furnace repair

Madera is Getting Cold, but My Furnace Wont Turn On

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

There are several quick, low-cost fixes you can do on your own 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 calling an HVAC professional.

If you find you need help from a professional and live in Madera, Brian's Heating & Cooling, Inc. can provide assistance to you. We repair most makes of heating systems.

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

While you’re talking with us, think about an annual furnace maintenance plan from Brian's Heating & Cooling, Inc. that might help you avoid problems in the future. We can tell you how frequently your furnace should be checked by one of our NATE-certified professionals.

Follow our easy guide below to start troubleshooting your furnace. Most of these steps don’t require mechanical skills.

Steps for Furnace Troubleshooting

Check the Thermostat

To begin, make sure your thermostat is telling your furnace to ignite.

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 set to the appropriate 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 make the furnace to start if thermostat programming is causing trouble.
  • Increase the temperature setting to 5 degrees warmer than the room temperature.
Digital Thermostat

If your furnace hasn’t turned on within few minutes, make sure it has power by toggling the fan switch from “auto” to “on.” If the fan doesn’t run, your furnace could be without 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.

  • Find your house’s main electrical panel. If you don’t know where it is, look 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.
  • Find 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 call a professional from Brian's Heating & Cooling, Inc. at 559-900-1170 right away.

Regardless of your furnace’s age or brand, 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, anticipate your furnace could take up to five minutes to start. (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 breakdowns, a dirty, clogged air filter is regularly to blame.

If your filter is too dirty:

  • Your furnace won’t stay on, or it could overheat from limited airflow.
  • Your energy bills could go up because your furnace is turning on too often.
  • Your furnace could break down sooner than it should because a dirty filter causes it to work harder.
  • Your furnace can lose power if an overly dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

Depending on what make of furnace you use, your air filter can be found 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.
  • Remove the filter and hold it up to the light. If you can’t see light through it, get a new one.
  • Insert the new filter with the arrow pointing toward the furnace to avoid damage.

Flat filters should be replaced once a month, 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 put in a new filter sooner.

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

Examine the Condensate Pan

Commonly known as drain pans, condensate pans catch water your furnace pulls 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 buy at home improvement or hardware stores.
  • If your pan contains a pump, check the float switch. If the switch is stuck “up” with water in the pan, contact Brian's Heating & Cooling, Inc. at 559-900-1170, because you will possibly need a new pump.

Peek Inside Your Furnace

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

If you see anything else besides a steady, colored light or blinking green light, call Brian's Heating & Cooling, Inc. at 559-900-1170. Your furnace may be giving an error code that needs professional help.

Clean the Flame Sensor

If your furnace tries to start but switches off without blowing heat, a dirty flame sensor could be at fault. When this happens, your furnace will try to turn on three times before a safety feature shuts 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 professionals at Brian's Heating & Cooling, 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.
  • Remove the furnace’s front panel and follow the wire to the flame sensor.
  • Unscrew the rod and use your sandpaper, steel wool or emery cloth to gently 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 might run through a series of checks before proceeding with normal operation. If your furnace doesn’t ignite, the sensor may need to be replaced or something else could be wrong. If this happens, get in touch with Brian's Heating & Cooling, Inc. at 559-900-1170 for assistance.

Relight the Pilot Light

If you are using an older furnace, the pilot light could be turned off. 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 sparking a fire.
  • Turn the knob to “pilot.”
  • Press 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, contact Brian's Heating & Cooling, Inc. at 559-900-1170.

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.

Brian's Heating & Cooling, Inc. Can Help with Furnace Problems

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

Call us today at 559-900-1170 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out and figure out the problem.

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