When Winter arrives, it always seems to be a shock and many of us turn on our heaters for the first time in months. At this time, it’s pretty common to notice run into a few issues. Some homeowners may notice that their thermostat is “On” and yet their furnace is not working. There are a few reasons why this may be happening and in this article, we will offer a few pointers on what you can do to fix the problem.

Check the Safety Switch

All furnaces that were built after the 90s were installed with a safety shut out, which is commonly referred to as a safety switch. This is a critical component because it makes the heater safer for the health of your family and it protects your home. A prime example would be the detection of gas in the furnace that has not been properly ignited. This could have devastating consequences for your home, such as a house fire or even an explosion! Another common problem is the release of carbon monoxide (CO) which is a poisonous gas that’s often referred to as “the silent killer”. Every year people are affected by a carbon monoxide leak and this is why it’s important to install a CO alarm within a few feet of your furnace. The safety switch acts as a final line of defense because it shuts off the heating system automatically when a problem arises. So, if the safety switch has been triggered for some reason, the heater will not work.

Technical Problems

When the thermostat is working properly, and you can still feel no heat from the furnace there are a few possible causes. They are clogged pipes, a blocked air filter, a wiring issue, a broken control board, a dead blower motor, and dirty evaporator coils. When these issues arise, the entire heating system may fail to start and you need some professional help. Fault finding and working on a furnace is not a job for a DIY enthusiast and you may do more damage, leading to a higher repair bill. Call your local HVAC specialist if you experience technical problems with your heating and cooling equipment.

A Lack of Fuel

Every furnace needs some kind of fuel or power to generate the heat for your home. If you have an electric furnace and the power grid is out, the heater will not start. If you have a supply of natural gas coming into your furnace, and it is interrupted for some reason, the heater will not start. In many cases, this is a temporary interruption in service, but there could be a problem with the circuit breaker, the home wiring or the gas line. If you are not sure how to proceed and the problem persists, contact your local heating and cooling specialist.

Essential Maintenance is Required

Your heating and cooling system is extremely complex and it represents a significant investment in your home comfort. As such, it makes sense to protect that investment with regularly scheduled maintenance before the start of each heating or cooling season. Well maintained equipment is less likely to fail, the energy efficiency is improved and the system may have an extended lifespan. If you have not had the system maintained in a while, don’t despair because even a single visit can restore the functionality. If you want to schedule some essential furnace maintenance, contact your local HVAC specialist.

Changing the Air Filter

This can have a huge impact on many aspects of your heating and cooling system and it’s one of the easiest things you can do without professional help. Every HVAC system relies on a steady supply of air to work correctly and the distribution of air is crucial to deliver heating and cooling. Every day, the air in your home will pass through the system multiple times and airborne particulates will be deposited on the surface of the filter. This material will build up gradually until it becomes too thick for the air to pass through easily. The airflow needs to be maintained, so the HVAC system will work harder to force the air through the clogged air filter. This can result in the furnace delivering ambient room temperature air to the vents instead of the warm air that you want.

Another annoying aspect of a clogged air filter is that the system is working harder and that will drive up the utility bills for no appreciable benefit to your indoor comfort. In fact, the additional stress on the heating and cooling equipment can lead to a failure and an expensive repair bill. A dirty air filter is one of the common causes of a phenomenon known as “short cycling” in the HVAC industry.

Short cycling refers to the cycle of the HVAC system when you need to send heated or cooled air through the home and it stops when the indoor temperature matches the thermostat setting. This cycle typically lasts around 15-20 minutes, but if this period is too short, the system becomes confused and the equipment turns on and off again repeatedly. Again, this causes a lot of extra stress on the components, it drives up the energy bills and it’s ineffective for the heating or cooling in your home. Short cycling can be caused by other problems, including a faulty flame sensor, a badly placed thermostat, an incorrectly sized furnace, and overheating equipment.

You can avoid a lot of potential problems with a simple air filter change and full instructions for this process should be in the owner’s manual.

A Faulty Gas Valve in Your Furnace

If your furnace uses natural gas and a valve is installed in the heater to bring it into the burner. But, if that valve has become stuck in one position or the control board is damaged the gas will not flow.  At this point, the furnace is prepared to heat your home, but it cannot continue because it is impossible to build a flame with no fuel source. The quickest way to test this theory is to light a gas stove burner to check that the gas line is working. If the stove burner lights, you know that the problem lies in your furnace.

If you are experiencing problems with your furnace or you want to schedule some essential maintenance, contact your local HVAC specialist today.