furnace repair

Newton is Getting Cold, but My Furnace Wont Turn On

Troubleshooting your furnace might feel like an overwhelming chore when your heat won’t turn on. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

There are a few time-saving, inexpensive fixes you can do by yourself to skip a furnace repair call.

If your furnace won’t turn on, won’t stay on or won’t ignite, try the troubleshooting list below before getting in touch with an HVAC professional.

If you find you need help from someone who is experienced and live in Newton, Brookwood Inc can help you. We service most brands of heating systems.

If you’re ready for a new heating system, we also do furnace replacement in Newton.

While you’re in touch with us, consider a regular furnace maintenance plan from Brookwood Inc that may help you avoid breakdowns in the future. We can tell you how often your furnace should be examined by one of our NATE-certified professionals.

Use our easy guide below to get started on troubleshooting your furnace. Most of these steps don’t require mechanical skills.

Steps for Furnace Troubleshooting

Check the Thermostat

First, make sure your thermostat is telling your furnace to turn on.

If you have a digital thermostat:

  • Change the batteries if the screen is blank. If the digital screen is jumbled, the thermostat may need to be replaced.
  • Make sure the switch is set to “heat” rather than “off” or “cool.”
  • Ensure the program is showing the right day and time and is set to “run.” If you’re having trouble overriding the program, set the temperature by using the up/down arrows and press the “hold” button. This will force the furnace to turn on if thermostat programming is causing a problem.
  • Increase the temperature setting to 5 degrees warmer than the room temperature.
Digital Thermostat

If your furnace hasn’t kicked on within several minutes, make sure it has power by toggling the fan switch from “auto” to “on.” If the fan doesn’t start, your furnace may not have power.

If you have a smart thermostat—like one made by Nest, Ecobee, Lux, Honeywell or Bosch—troubleshooting is very model-specific. Take a look at the manufacturer’s website for help. If you still can’t get your Wi-Fi thermostat to work, contact us for assistance.

Lennox Smart Thermostat

Examine Breakers and Switches

Next, you will need to check if your breaker and furnace switch are on.

  • Look for your house’s main electrical panel. If you have no idea where it is, search for a gray metal box in your basement, garage or closet.
  • Make sure your hands and feet are dry before touching the panel or breakers.
  • Locate the breaker labeled “furnace” or “heat,” and make sure it’s switched “on.” If the breaker has tripped, it will be in the middle or “off” position.
  • Using one hand, firmly switch the breaker to the “on” position. If the breaker immediately trips and pops back to “off,” don’t touch it and contact a professional from Brookwood Inc at 641-316-9803 right away.

It doesn’t matter how old your furnace is or what brand it is, it has at least one standard wall switch located on or close to it.

  • Make sure the switch is flipped up in the “on” position. If it was turned off, it could take your furnace up to five minutes to ignite. (If you don’t know where to find your furnace, check your basement, garage or utility closet. It could also be in a crawl space or attic.)

Replace Your Furnace’s Air Filter

When it comes to furnace issues, a grungy, clogged air filter is frequently the top culprit.

If your filter is too dirty:

  • Your furnace won’t keep heating your home, or it could overheat from reduced airflow.
  • Your energy bills could be higher because your furnace is turning on more often.
  • Your furnace could stop working sooner than it should because a dirty filter causes it to work overtime.
  • Your furnace can lose power if an overly dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

Depending on what type of furnace you own, your air filter is located inside the blower compartment of your furnace, an attached filter case or wall-mounted return air grille.

Replacing a furnace filter

To replace your filter:

  • Turn off your furnace.
  • Take out the filter and tilt it toward the light. If you can’t see light through it, get a new one.
  • Put in the new filter with the arrow pointing toward the furnace to avoid damage.

Flat filters should be replaced monthly, while pleated filters should last about three months. You can also buy a washable filter that will last about 10 years. If you have children or pets, you may have to replace your filter more often.

To make the process easier in the future, use a permanent marker on your furnace housing or ductwork to list the airflow direction and filter size.

Examine the Condensate Pan

Otherwise known as drain pans, condensate pans hold water your furnace removes from the air.

If water is leaking out of your furnace or its pan has standing water in it, follow these steps.

  • If your pan has a drain (look for a PVC pipe), check that it’s clear. If it needs to be drained, use a special pan-cleaning tablet you can get at home improvement or hardware stores.
  • If your pan contains a pump, check the float switch. If the switch is stuck “up” with standing water in the pan, contact Brookwood Inc at 641-316-9803, because you will possibly need a new pump.

Peek Inside Your Furnace

If malfunctions keep on happening, take a look inside your furnace’s plastic window to verify the status of the blower motor. Depending on the model, the light could also be attached on the outside of your furnace.

If you see anything else besides a steady, colored light or blinking green light, call Brookwood Inc at 641-316-9803. Your furnace may be emitting an error code that is calling for professional service.

Clean the Flame Sensor

If your furnace tries to start but switches off without blowing heat, a dirty flame sensor could be responsible. When this happens, your furnace will try to ignite three times before a safety feature powers it down for about an hour.

If you feel comfortable with opening up your furnace, cleaning your flame sensor is something you can do by yourself. Or, one of our HVAC experts at Brookwood Inc can do it for you.

If you want to clean the sensor yourself, you’ll need:

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

Next:

  • Disable the furnace’s power by using its wall switch or breaker. If your gas valve is not electric, you will need to shut off the gas as well.
  • Lift off the furnace’s front panel and trace the wire to the flame sensor.
  • Unscrew the rod and use your sandpaper, steel wool or emery cloth to lightly rub the metal rod.
  • Wipe off the rod with a paper towel.
  • Remount the sensor.
  • Replace the furnace doors.
  • Turn the furnace’s power back on. It may run through a set of checks before resuming normal operation. If your furnace doesn’t ignite, the sensor may need to be replaced or something else might be wrong. If this happens, contact Brookwood Inc at 641-316-9803 for assistance.

Relight the Pilot Light

If you are using an older furnace, the pilot light could be extinguished. To relight it, find the instructions on a label on your furnace, or follow these steps.

  • Locate the switch on the bottom of your furnace labeled “pilot,” “on” and “off.”
  • Turn the switch to the “off” position.
  • Wait at least five minutes to avoid possibly creating a fire.
  • Turn the knob to “pilot.”
  • Push the “reset” button as you bring the flame of a long lighter to the pilot light opening.
  • Release the “reset” button once the pilot light is lit.

If you have followed the instructions twice and the pilot light still won’t light or stay lit, call Brookwood Inc at 641-316-9803.

Check Your Fuel Source

Try turning on another gas appliance. If it doesn’t work, your natural gas service could be turned off, or you could be out of propane.

Brookwood Inc Can Help with Furnace Problems

Followed our troubleshooting guide but your furnace still won’t work?

Call us today at 641-316-9803 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out and pinpoint the problem.

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