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5 Troubleshooting Techniques for Furnace Failure

Is your furnace giving you a run for your money? Does it refuse to maintain a consistent climate or stay on? Is your home’s temperature getting lower but your utility bill is getting higher?

Before you call in the professionals and perhaps, unnecessarily cost yourself more hard-earned money, take a look at this list of troubleshooting techniques, compiled by the pros!

1. Check the Thermostat

Step one, as simple as it may seem, is to ensure your thermostat is on the correct setting and is set to at least 5 degrees above room temperature. This may sound self-explanatory, but plenty of calls have been made without first checking this important factor of thermostat functionality.

Depending on how your thermostat is powered, it may require new batteries. Is there a low-battery notification? Try inserting a new battery, increasing the temperature or setting, and listening for the system to ignite.

You may also need to open the thermostat face or door and blow on the inside, to loosen any debris or dust that may have clogged it. There is also the possibility that the thermostat’s wiring has loosened with time. Be very careful when adjusting or moving the wires as they are running with electricity. If the wires are loose, just turn the power off to that part of the room or turn off the breaker entirely to appropriately move them without injuring yourself.

2. Check the Furnace Filter

It is best practice to check and replace your furnace filter regularly because normal use results in a build-up of dirt and dust, which impedes proper airflow and can release unhealthy pathogens into the air during use. A clogged furnace filter can even become a fire hazard. If maintenance and/or replacement has been neglected, your furnace filter should be one of the first things you check.

To begin this essential process, turn off your thermostat or locate your furnace switch (see below) and ensure power flow is cut off. Hold your furnace filter up to a light. If you are unable to see light through it, the time has come for a replacement. When installing a new furnace filter, ensure the arrows are in the correct direction (lined up with airflow). Set a reminder to check your furnace filter every 30 days.

3. Check Electrical Panel or Furnace Switch

Does your furnace have an on/off switch nearby? It’s possible it was accidentally bumped and therefore turned off.

Additionally, if your thermostat is not battery-run, but rather is connected to your home’s electrical system, it is a beneficial idea to check the electric panel or breaker box for a power source problem.

First, ensure that power is flowing to the breaker or fuse box. Then, if your system is properly labeled, check to see that the HVAC breaker is on. If so, it is advisable to turn it off and on again (you should hear a “click”) as this may reset the power flow. If you are not able to locate proper labels in the fuse box, look for the breaker switch that is facing the opposite direction as the remaining switches. This is most likely the source of the issue. Flip this switch in the same direction as the others, and refer back to your thermostat for any change in activity.

4. Check Furnace Flame

The color of your furnace’s flame is an important indicator of your furnace’s proper functioning. The flame should be bright blue, with a tip of yellow on the top of the flame.

To check the flame’s color, begin by removing the furnace cover panel to expose the burner assembly and pilot. You may need to relight the pilot. Refer to your furnace’s manual before attempting to do this, and make sure to turn off gas flow for 10-15 minutes before proceeding.

Caution: if you smell gas, do not continue. This could be a sign of a gas leak, for which you will need to evacuate all persons from the home.

If the flame is any other color than described above, contact a professional right away. This is beyond a simple DIY fix.

5. Check Vents and Registers

It is possible that your furnace is running properly, but the airflow in your home has been restricted or cut off to some rooms in particular. Inspect each room of the house to ensure that the supply and return grills are open, unobstructed, and unclogged.

It is not a good idea to intentionally close vents in certain rooms or have any furniture, rugs, or belongings close to the grills. Not only will these practices not save money, but they can also be extremely unsafe and eventually cause problems for your heating system.

Call the Professionals

If your furnace continues to cause trouble, is leaving you out in the cold, or is responsible for high utility bills, it may be time to get the professionals involved. Contact WM Buffington in Highspire, Pennsylvania for all your HVAC needs. We are dedicated to providing high-quality services for both residential and commercial spaces in Central Pennsylvania. You can trust our extensively trained technicians to take care of your furnace and other projects that come up.

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