furnace repair

What to do When Your Furnace Will Not Start

It might appear scary to troubleshoot your furnace when your heat won’t run. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You could be able to skip a furnace repair call with our DIY troubleshooting guide. You don’t need any technical skills. And many of these fixes are quick and inexpensive (or even free).

This checklist will walk you through how to fix your furnace when it won’t turn on, won’t stay on or won’t light.

When you require a pro in Muskogee, Hix Air Conditioning Service, Inc. can help.

We repair and maintain most makes and models of furnaces. If you need a more modern heating system, we also offer furnace replacement and furnace installation.

Furnace breakdowns are often caused by a lack of routine maintenance. These checkups often highlight an expensive problem before it gets worse—and causes your HVAC system to stop working.

During your appointment, our NATE-certified professionals will thoroughly inspect your furnace, make sure it’s working properly and lubricate moving parts. A well-kept furnace often lasts longer and operates more efficiently, saving you more on your heating costs.

Ready to begin troubleshooting your furnace? Follow our step-by-step guide below.

Steps for Troubleshooting Your Furnace

Check Your Thermostat

Start by looking at your thermostat. Is it telling your furnace to start?

If you have a digital thermostat:

  • Replace the batteries if the screen is unresponsive. If the digital screen is scrambled, you may need a new thermostat.
  • Confirm that the switch is set to “heat” instead of “off” or “cool.”
  • Find out if the program is displaying the correct day and time and is set to “run.” If you can’t alter the program, change the temperature by using the up/down arrows and press the “hold” button. This will require the furnace to turn on if thermostat programming is causing a problem.
  • Set the temperature to 5 degrees warmer than the room’s temperature.
Digital Thermostat

Your furnace should kick on fairly quickly. If it doesn’t, see if it has power by sliding the fan switch from “auto” to “on.” If the fan doesn’t work instantly, your furnace may not have power.

If you’re connected to a Wi-Fi thermostat—like one made by Nest, Ecobee, Lux, Honeywell or Bosch—turn to the manufacturer’s website for advice. If you can’t get your smart thermostat to function properly, call us at 918-682-8238 for support.

Smart Thermostat

Check Breakers and Switches

If you’ve already checked your thermostat, you will have to make sure your breakers and furnace switch are on.

  • Head to your house’s main electrical panel. It’s the gray metal box on the wall in your basement, garage or closet.
  • Dry off your hands and feet before working with the panel or breakers.
  • Pinpoint the breaker labeled “furnace” or “heat” and double-check that it’s switched in the “on” position. If the breaker has tripped, it will be in the center or “off” position.
  • With one hand, firmly move the breaker to the “on” position. If the breaker trips and pops back to “off” after you do this, leave it alone. Contact an expert from Hix Air Conditioning Service, Inc. at 918-682-8238 as soon as possible.

Your furnace has at least one wall switch placed on or near it—no matter how old it is or who made it.

  • This switch should be flipped up in the “on” position. It can take your furnace up to five minutes to start if the switch was off. (Not sure where your furnace is located? Look in your basement, garage or utility closet. It could also be in a crawl space or attic.)

Replace Your Air Filter

Dirty, closed off air filters often create issues that are easily avoidable.

  • Your furnace can overheat and shut down too soon, due to dust in the filter restricting airflow.
  • Your energy bills could climb, because your furnace is starting up more often.
  • Your furnace may not last as long, because it has to work harder.
  • Your furnace could lose power, because an excessively dirty filter can cause the breaker to trip.

You can get to your air filter inside your furnace’s blower component, attached filter case or wall-mounted return air grille. Its position depends upon what type of furnace you have.

Replace furnace filter

When switching out your filter:

  • Turn off your furnace completely.
  • Grab the filter, hold it up to the light and look through it. Place a new filter in your system if you can’t see light through it.
  • Put in the new filter with the arrow pointing toward the furnace to avoid damage.

To make the process easier for yourself, use a permanent marker on your furnace housing or ductwork to indicate the airflow direction and filter size.

We suggest replacing flat filters monthly. Pleated filters generally last about three months. You can also get a washable filter that will be good for about 10 years.

If you have children or pets, you may need to switch out your filter on a more regular basis.

Look at Your Condensate Pan

Condensate pans, or drain pans, catch water your furnace pulls from the air.

Follow these steps if your furnace is seeping water or there’s standing water in the pan.

  • If your pan has a PVC pipe/drain: Make sure that it’s open. If it’s not, you can use a special pan-cleaning tablet from a home improvement or hardware store.
  • If your pan has a pump: Take a look at the float switch. If the switch is “up” and there’s fluid in the pan, call us at 918-682-8238. You will probably need a more modern pump.

Check Inside Your Furnace

You can check the condition of your furnace’s blower motor by looking inside the plastic window. Depending on the kind, this light could be located on the outside of your furnace.

Contact us at 918-682-8238 if you see anything other than a stable, colored light or blinking green light. Your furnace is likely giving an error code that needs professional assistance.

Clean Your Flame Sensor

Is your furnace attempting to start but turning off without blowing heat? A soiled flame sensor could be to blame. When this happens, your furnace will try to start three times. Then, a safety feature will shut it down for about an hour.

You can clean the flame sensor yourself if you feel confident opening up your furnace. We can also do it for you.

Hoping to take on cleaning the sensor yourself? You’ll need the following:

  • A 1/4” hex screwdriver or wrench
  • Piece of light-grit sandpaper, steel wool or emery cloth
  • A dry, clean paper towel

Next:

  • Use your furnace’s wall switch or breaker to shut off the power. Shut off the gas also if your gas valve is not electric.
  • Take off your furnace’s front panel and trace the wire to the flame sensor, which looks like a thin, bent rod.
  • Unscrew the rod and use your sandpaper, steel wool or emery cloth to gently clean the metal rod.
  • Use a paper towel to wipe off the rod.
  • Put back the sensor.
  • Put your furnace’s doors back on.
  • Turn the furnace’s power back on. Your furnace may run through a series of checks before it starts normally. If it doesn’t turn on, the sensor might need to be switched out for a new one. Or something else could be the issue. Call us at 918-682-8238 for help if this happens.

Relight the Pilot Light

If your furnace is an older design, its pilot light could be blown out. Relight it following the instructions on the label. You can find the label on your furnace’s doors.

Or you can follow these steps:

  • Locate the switch on the bottom of your furnace labeled “pilot,” “on” and “off.”
  • Rotate the switch to the “off” position.
  • Wait at least five minutes. This avoids the possibility of starting a fire.
  • Move the knob to “pilot.”
  • Hold down the “reset” button as you deliver the flame of a long lighter to the pilot light opening.
  • Release the “reset” button once the pilot light is lit.

Reach out to us at 918-682-8238 if you’ve followed the steps twice and the pilot won’t light or stay lit.

Check Your Fuel Source

Are other gas appliances operating? If they’re not, your natural gas service could be off. Or you could be out of propane.

We Can Diagnose Furnace Problems

Made it through our troubleshooting guide but your furnace still won’t turn on?

Call us today at 918-682-8238 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out to your home and find out what’s wrong.

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