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Furnace Repair FAQ’s: Common Problems and Solutions

There’s nothing quite like the first morning of crisp fall weather. You step our to get the paper and feel the slight chill in the air. Then, you go to turn on your heat for the first time this season and nothing happens.

You get that familiar pit in your stomach. You know, the one. It comes around anytime an expensive household expense rears its ugly head. The good news? You have a good chance of fixing this furnace problem yourself.

With a little know-how, a DIY furnace repair is simple. Here we give you our top reasons why furnaces don’t work. We also go over how to fix them before you call the heating and air conditioning companies.

DIY Furnace Repair 101: Most Common Problems and Their Solutions

Furnace not working? The answer is simpler than you would expect. According to HVAC experts, almost 75% of no-heat calls are due to a lack of maintenance by the homeowner.

Most homeowners don’t know what they should be doing to maintain the system. Here we will address the most common reasons your furnace is not working. We will also walk you through solving the problem.

Check Your Thermostat

If you call your furnace company their first advice will be to check your thermostat. Make sure the heat setting is where the slider is. Make sure the thermostat is on.

Check the temperature settings. The heat won’t kick on unless the home temperature dips below the set temp. Replace the batteries in your unit to be sure the signal to the system is strong.

Furnace still not working? Let’s move on to our next suggestion.

Reset Your Home Breaker

The next step in furnace troubleshooting is to check your breaker panel.

Make sure none of the circuit breakers have blown out. Are any tripped? The breakers should all be in the on position.

Turn the circuit that controls the furnace off and on again. Note the position when you got to the box. Was it flipped to off or was it in the middle? When you flipped the breaker did it stay in the on position?

If not, your problem is the circuit itself. Get yourself a digital multimeter and check the home’s circuit wiring.

Dirty Filters

The next most common cause of furnace issues is dirty clogged filters. When was the last time you changed your furnace filter? If you don’t know, or it’s been a long time, this may solve the problem.

Make sure you get the correct filters for your furnace. Remove the old filters and make sure there is no debris left in the opening. Insert the new filter and reset the breaker. Filters need replacing every 90 days every month in times of heavy use.

Now go back to your thermometer and test the furnace. Still nothing? Let’s move on to our next potential solution.

Neglected Furnace Maintenance

There is a certain level of maintenance a furnace requires to operate at 100% for the life of the furnace. Besides the filters, you also need to check the safety switch on the furnace door.

Checking the Safety Switch

A good safety switch should keep the fan and burner of your unit from turning on while the panel is open. This is a great way to keep your eyebrows and not burn your face. But, if the safety switch breaks the fan and burner will never turn on.

Open the furnace door and check for the safety switch to pop out when you close the door. If it isn’t working you can install a new safety switch yourself in a few easy steps.

Keep The Area Around the Furnace Clean and Clear

Make sure the entire area around the furnace is clear and clean. As tempting as it is to use the area for extra storage, it’s not worth the risk. Cluttering up space around the furnace makes the furnace work harder.

There is also a higher risk of unexpected fires. Dust and debris can also affect the unit so make sure the vacuum around it as well.

Dust and Clean Your Burners

Make sure your burners are clean and free of debris. A clean burner will have a flame that is blue with a yellow tip. Is it another color? Turn off the burners and clean them and their area around them with a non-flammable cleaner.

The best bet is a damp rag with a little water on it to help catch dust and anything else in there.

Oil Furnace Blower

The blower’s job is to take the heat from the furnace and send it throughout your home. As you can imagine, this component works hard in the wintertime. Extra hard if it’s the blower of an HVAC in Seattle.

Keeping this piece well oiled can give your furnace many more good years than neglecting it. Add oiling the furnace to the before the winter season to-do list.

Still having trouble? There’s one more solution to try.

Blocked Heat Pumps or Intake and Exhaust Vents

Does your unit vent to the outside of the house? Go outside and check that the vents are free of leaves and debris. Clear away any grass or leaves from the heat pump as well.

Before your main heating season, you should rinse the top with a hose to remove dirt as well. Is ice clogging the vent or pump? This is not a DIY issue. Call a professional HVAC technician right away.

Ignition and Pilot Control Issues

Is your unit turning on but cycling all the time? Is the blower running a ton but there is no heat coming out? These issues point to a faulty ignition or other pilot control issue.

Check the pilot light. Is it off? You need to try and re-ignite the pilot.

Turn off the furnace and wait 15 minutes for all the gas to clear the lines. Once the gas is clear, turn the furnace back on and find the ignition switch. Most electric furnaces have an ignition button with a smaller red button next to it. Press the two buttons at the same time. If your pilot lights, let go of the ignition button and continue to hold the smaller, red button for one minute.

If the pilot won’t light you’ll need to check the gas line. If you smell gas, evacuate your home and call a professional right away. If not, check all along the line for faults. Check the line’s on/off valve. Make sure the seal is strong and the valve is working.

Is the furnace banging, scraping, or making other strange noises? Don’t attempt a DIY repair. Call a professional and get out of the house.

Check the Age of the Furnace Itself

You need to know how old your furnace is. If none of the fixes above helped solve the issue it could be time for a furnace replacement. A furnace can last around 15 years. With proper ongoing maintenance, you may get 20 years out of your unit.

Is your unit older than that? You should replace the unit for safety purposes even if the unit isn’t malfunctioning. Replacing your furnace can be overwhelming. There are tons of options when it comes to furnaces. Pay attention to these factors when replacing your furnace:

  • Fuel type: Does your furnace run on gas, oil, or electricity? It’s easiest to go with a unit that runs on the same type of fuel.
  • Energy Efficiency: Make sure you choose a unit that is energy efficient and highly rated. This will save you money in the long run and help the environment.
  • Size Needed: Calculate the heating needs of your home is tricky. There is a formula including area and insulation levels of the home. Let an HVAC professional do these calculations. This guarantees you’re choosing a unit that will heat your home.

After you buy your new unit, you’ll want to find a reputable furnace installer. In the Seattle area? We do furnace installation Seattle. We can advise on the best unit for your home and have you warm in no time.

Keep It Warm and Toasty Whenever You Need It

We hope your furnace repair ended up being a simple fix. Remember to take care of your furnace. The better you maintain your system the longer it will keep your family warm.

Make a to-do-list of pre-winter activities to do around the home. Include oiling the furnace blower. Also, cleaning the area around the furnace and clearing the vents. Making sure your pipes are all winterized. Throughout the year, remember to replace the filters. Not only in your furnace but the entire HVAC system.

Doing these regular maintenance activities can save you tons of money and time. It helps avoid costly repairs and replacements. But, even the most attentive homeowner will still need repair from time to time. Make sure to hire a reputable HVAC company. One who will come and do a thorough inspection and provide a quote for services.

Still having an issue with your furnace? We all know that’s an emergency in the Seattle area. Contact us today and we will help you out.


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