You rely on your furnace to keep you warm and comfortable during the cold winter weather, so when an unexpected malfunction occurs, it’s a serious matter. As most of us aren’t experts when it comes to heating systems, it can be a frustrating situation to not know what is wrong with your furnace, or if there’s anything you can do before calling for a repair. There are a few simple things you can do that don’t require an advanced level of HVAC knowledge, and could save you money or, at the least, help you better understand what went wrong.

1. Thermostat Issues

Your thermostat tells your furnace how to act, so it’s usually the first place to check if your furnace isn’t working right! If your thermostat’s batteries have died, a child played with the settings, or your thermostat isn’t adjusted properly, you won’t see normal operation from your furnace. You can check your thermostat by making minor increases in the temperature and examining whether or not your furnace responds correctly. It could be as simple as fresh batteries or a few button presses!

2. Check Your Filters

A clean furnace filter traps the dirt, dust, and debris that circulate in your indoor air, keeping the unwanted particles from staying in your air supply. The filter also prevents the debris from infiltrating the components of your furnace, which can lead to inefficiency and part failures. Over time, your filter will accumulate debris and become dirty to the point where it’s no longer able effectively trap particulates, and will actually “choke” your furnace because of the inability for air to flow with little resistance through the clogged filter. We recommend visually inspecting your filter every three months or more depending on how much use your furnace is getting, or as often as the manufacturer’s guidelines. You can find information about where your filter is and how to change it by referring to your owner’s manual, or by contacting your system manufacturer directly.

3. Pilot Light Problems

The pilot light is the ignition for the fuel in your furnace, and when it goes out, you won’t have any heat. While a little bit more technical than the first two items on our list, checking your pilot light is still a relatively simple task that may resolve your issues. To locate your pilot light, you’ll need to identify the burner chamber door on your furnace. This is usually towards the base of your furnace, and the door will typically be found on the front of the housing. You can find the exact location by referring to your owner’s manual. When you open the burner chamber door, you’ll notice a small metal tube. This is the pilot gas line. If all is working correctly, you’ll notice a small flame at the top of this tube. If you don’t, your pilot light is out. Most furnaces have instructions for relighting labeled on your system, so if you’re attempting to relight your pilot light, be sure to follow all safety precautions and guidelines recommended by the manufacturer. You can always call a professional furnace technician like one from Fire 'n' Ice Heating & Cooling, Inc. to help with this!

4. Malfunctioning Blower Motor

If the first three items on our list haven’t narrowed down your problem, another thing you can inspect is your blower motor. This is the most advanced task on the list, but with a bit of technical knowledge you may be able to locate and inspect the motor on your own. The blower motor is essentially the fan that forces the heated air to circulate around your house, and your manufacturer’s guide will show you its location. If it isn’t working, you’ll notice right away, because hot air won’t be blowing. Most thermostats have a “fan only” setting, so setting it to this mode and inspecting whether or not the blower motor is activated can give you some insight into where your problem may be.

5. Inadequate Maintenance/Servicing

The vast majority of these common issues can be avoided with regular maintenance! Having a trusted furnace technician from Fire 'n' Ice Heating & Cooling, Inc. give your heating system a comprehensive inspection and cleaning will give you peace of mind, and greatly increase your chances of a warm and cozy winter in your home. Our team recommends a minimum of once-yearly maintenance for best results, and we’re always here to answer any of your heating questions.

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