furnace repair

Front Royal is Getting Cold, but My Furnace Wont Turn On

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

There are a couple of fast, low-cost fixes you can do on your own to avoid 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 getting in touch with an HVAC professional.

If you find you need help from an expert and live in Front Royal, Dave's Diversified Services can assist you. We repair most makes of heating systems.

If you’re ready for a new heating system, we also do furnace replacement in Front Royal.

While you’re in touch with us, consider an annual furnace maintenance plan from Dave's Diversified Services that could help you avoid problems in the future. We can tell you how regularly your furnace should be examined by one of our NATE-certified experts.

Use our easy guide below to get to work on troubleshooting your furnace. Most of these steps don’t require mechanical know-how.

Steps for Furnace Troubleshooting

Check the Thermostat

To begin, make sure your thermostat is instructing your furnace to start.

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” instead of “off” or “cool.”
  • Ensure the program is displaying the appropriate day and time and is set to “run.” If you’re having problems overriding the program, set the temperature by using the up/down arrows and press the “hold” button. This will make the furnace to turn on 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 kicked on within several 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 aren’t sure 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.
  • Locate 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,” leave it alone and call a professional from Dave's Diversified Services at 540-369-3971 right away.

No matter 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 filthy, clogged air filter is often the top offender.

If your filter is too dirty:

  • Your furnace won’t stay on, or it could overheat from reduced airflow.
  • Your energy bills could go up because your furnace is turning on more than it should.
  • Your furnace could break down prematurely because a dirty filter causes it to work overtime.
  • Your furnace can be cut off from power if an excessively dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

Depending on what make of furnace you own, 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.
  • Take out the filter and tilt it toward the light. If you can’t see light through it, use a new one.
  • Install the new filter with the arrow pointing toward the furnace to avoid damage.

Flat filters should be replaced every month, while pleated filters should last about three months. You can also get a washable filter that will last about 10 years. If you have children or pets, you may have to change your filter sooner.

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

Examine the Condensate Pan

Commonly known as drain pans, condensate pans hold water your furnace pulls from the air.

If water is dripping 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 isn’t clogged. If it needs to be drained, use a special pan-cleaning tablet you can get at home improvement or hardware stores.
  • If your pan has a pump, inspect the float switch. If the switch is stuck “up” with liquid in the pan, contact Dave's Diversified Services at 540-369-3971, because you will possibly need a new pump.

Peek Inside Your Furnace

If malfunctions continue, look inside your furnace’s plastic window to verify the status of the blower motor. Depending on the model, the light could also be attached on the outside of your furnace.

If you see anything else besides a steady, colored light or blinking green light, call Dave's Diversified Services at 540-369-3971. Your furnace may be communicating an error code that requires professional help.

Clean the Flame Sensor

If your furnace tries to start but shuts off without blowing heat, a dirty flame sensor could be at fault. When this takes place, your furnace will attempt to ignite 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 yourself. Or, one of our HVAC specialists at Dave's Diversified Services 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.
  • Take off 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 carefully 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 could go through a sequence of checks before resuming regular operation. If your furnace doesn’t start, the sensor may need to be replaced or something else may be wrong. If this happens, call Dave's Diversified Services at 540-369-3971 for assistance.

Relight the Pilot Light

If you are using an older furnace, the pilot light could be extinguished. To relight it, find the instructions on a label on your furnace, or follow these steps.

  • Find 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.”
  • Hold down 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 Dave's Diversified Services at 540-369-3971.

Check Your Fuel Source

Try switching on another gas appliance. If it doesn’t work, your natural gas service could be turned off, or you could be out of propane.

Dave's Diversified Services Can Help with Furnace Problems

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

Call us today at 540-369-3971 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out and diagnose the problem.

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