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5 Common Furnace Problems and How to Fix Them

It’s that time of year again when wind, snow, and plummeting temperatures make having a functional furnace a number one priority. So what do you do when all of a sudden you wake up in a cold house or you turn your heater on only to experience the whir of a fan pushing out cool air?

When you think about the number of hours and days your furnace runs throughout the year, it really is one of the most reliable appliances in your home. However, things happen – parts can wear out, settings can get changed, or necessary maintenance can be delayed longer than it should. When your furnace suddenly stops working, it’s helpful to know how to troubleshoot some of the most common issues.    

Furnace is Running but No Heat is Coming Out

There may be times when you hear your furnace running but you can’t feel any heat coming out. If this happens, there are a few easy things you can check. First, look to see if the fan has been set to run continuously. If it has, you should know that it won’t blow warm air all the time. When it reaches the desired temperature, the burner will shut down but your furnace fan will continue to blow.

Another reason for no heat coming out is a dirty filter. When filters are clogged with dust, dirt, and debris, it limits airflow and can make your furnace overheat. When this happens, it can result in the failure of your high-limit switch, which in turn, can signal the fan to keep blowing nonstop. 

If you’ve checked the above two, one additional cause of your furnace not blowing warm air may be dirt and grime buildup on the burner that can cause it to get clogged so no fuel can get through. 

Furnace Won’t Kick On

If your furnace seems to be completely dead and won’t turn on at all, there are several things that could be the culprit. First, check the power source. It’s possible that a blown circuit breaker could be the issue. Simply check your breaker panel to make sure the switch controlling your furnace is in the “on” position.

Second, inspect the thermostat. Simple things such as dead batteries or someone else in your household changing the temperature settings can cause your furnace to remain off when you expect it to be on.  

If your furnace has power and your thermostat appears to be functioning, then there could be a problem with the ignition sensor, or in older models, the pilot light. Ignition sensors need to be replaced every once in a while, but more often than not the problem can be attributed to dust and debris buildup. A quick visit by your local HVAC repair company can remedy the issue with a thorough cleaning of the sensor.      

If you have a pilot light, check to make sure that it’s still lit. If it isn’t, it could be because an air draft keeps blowing it out. In other situations, the element may be damaged and will need to be replaced. 

Furnace is Making Strange Noises

Your furnace should run quietly in the background with not much more than a low whirring sound. If you hear rattling, rumbling, or other unfamiliar noises, it’s a good indication that something is wrong. Some possible causes to consider include ductwork issues, loose parts, or issues with the fan. 

No matter what kind of noise you hear, if it’s something out of the ordinary, it's a good idea to have your furnace inspected by a professional HVAC technician.

Furnace is Running, but Your Home Still Feels Cold

Is everything working on your furnace but yet it still seems to be cold in your house? It could be because of things completely unrelated to your furnace such as having older windows that might need to be updated. However, your home could also feel cold because your furnace is too small for the area you’re trying to heat. Whether that’s because the wrong size was installed or you’ve added more square feet to your home, if you’re paying to run your furnace but still feel uncomfortably cold, you might need to consider an upgrade.  

Frequent Cycling

It’s normal for a furnace to turn on and off throughout the day as the temperature fluctuates both inside and outside of your home, but if you notice the furnace cycling more than usual, it could indicate a bigger problem. 

Frequent furnace cycling means your furnace isn’t running efficiently which could lead to higher energy bills, poor heating, and more wear and tear on your furnace. This is usually caused by one of two things – either poor airflow due to a dirty filter or a malfunctioning thermostat. Changing the filter is an easy fix that could remedy the problem. However, if you change the filter and you still notice it turning on and off frequently, it’s probably best to call in a professional to check out the thermostat.  

Simple Checks and Quick Fixes

When your furnace isn’t working, it’s easy to start thinking the worst. Will you be out of heat over the weekend or have to stay in a hotel until the furnace gets fixed? Do you have to start thinking about finding the money to pay for a new furnace? Although furnaces don’t last forever, many times a furnace problems can be fixed quickly and sometimes without even calling in a repair technician. 

There are several possible causes why your furnace isn’t working as it should. Before calling an HVAC company, try doing some quick troubleshooting on your own. 

  • Make sure the furnace is set to “heat”
  • Try replacing the batteries in your thermostat
  • Check your electrical panel for blown fuses
  • Replace your air filter  

If you’ve ruled out all of these things and your furnace still isn’t working it’s best to call a local HVAC company as soon as possible.

Call WM Buffington for All of Your Heating and Cooling Needs

If your furnace isn’t working – even if it’s after hours or on the weekend, give us a call. Our experienced technicians are ready to respond quickly so you be comfortable in your home once again. 

To prevent many common furnace problems, it’s important to keep up with routine maintenance. That’s why at WM Buffington of Highspire, we offer a variety of HVAC maintenance plans. Check out our heating page or call to sign up today and get peace of mind, consistent and efficient heating, and extend the life of your furnace!

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