Furnace Troubleshooting 101

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Last updated: 
March 16, 2024

We owe the comfortable temperature and air quality within our houses to HVAC equipment. They do all the heavy lifting in the winter to keep us warm, while keeping us cool during torrid months. But none of these systems are immortal. Their life span varies depending on their quality and level of maintenance they’ve been receiving. You can take small steps in order to take care of your appliances’ longevity. High quality filters will not only make sure the air you’re breathing is bacteria and dust free, it will also keep the motor of your system clean and gunk free.

Nothing is more expensive than replacing your whole HVAC unit. So make sure to clean out any leaves or grass that can obstruct your air conditioning pipes. Stick to the two feet clearance rule and don’t place anything that close around your outdoor appliances. Another thing that’s worth remembering is to regularly check the filters. Replace them when they start looking shabby, and don’t use them for longer than three months. You should also keep an eye out for the refrigerant lines and on the carbon monoxide detector battery that might need changing every now and then.

Furnace not working?

If you’re unpleasantly surprised one morning by your furnace which broke down, there are some steps you can take in order to avoid spending a couple hundred dollars on a plumber’s bill. Don’t be intimidated by that big appliance in your basement. Chances are you’ll be able to save the day by trying out these quick suggestions:

Furnace Troubleshooting 101

  • The first step is to check the thermostat and make sure it’s not wrongly set on “cool” but on “heat”. Turn the heat up to see if the furnace starts working. If nothing happens, take a look at the thermostat’s wires. Is anything broken? You might also want to consider replacing the battery, opening the thermostat for a gentle cleaning and ultimately resetting it.
  • Make sure your furnace is actually switched on. There should be a wall switch next to your furnace. Also make sure to look at the circuit breaker for any tripped fuses.
  • When’s the last time when you changed your filter? A clogged filter is one of the main causes why furnaces shut off. Because air isn’t able to pass through the ducts, the furnace breaks down. All you have to do is replace the filters regularly, following the instructions in the manual.
  • Is the gas on? If the gas valve was turned off, your furnace will do the same. Check to see if the handle is perpendicular to the gas pipe. This way, you’ll know what the issue was.
  • The exhaust flue attracts birds because it’s warm. You should check to see if it’s clear or clogged with debris from birds. You can dismantle the duct to clean it thoroughly, but make sure to put it all back together in the correct order.

How does a thermostat work?

Used to control heating or cooling settings, thermostats have been one of mankind’s worst enemies since time immemorial. The more buttons they have, the more complicated they seem to be. To understand how they work, you should first know there are two types of thermostats. Mechanical thermostats will use physical ways to determine the temperature of the air and turn on a switch which activates a heating or cooling system. For example, a bimetallic strip made out of copper and iron will expand according to the room temperature. When the strip will bend and touch the electrical contact, the heating will be turned on. Digital thermostats have electronic sensors which detect the temperature and adjust the system accordingly.

Furnace Troubleshooting

One of the most popular Emerson thermostat is the White Rogers. As one of the leads in the industry, the multinational corporation offers a wide range of thermostats, varying from wifi devices with touchscreens to the traditional 80 series. If you’re having a hard time with the White Rodgers thermostat troubleshooting, you’re not the only one. A few things you can do before calling up a professional is to check the power supply for tripped breakers. You should also toy around with the heat setting and listen up for a clicking sound. If you can’t hear it, try resetting the thermostat. You might also want to open the cover of your thermostat and check the wires – nothing should be broken or sticking out.

Heater not working?

If all of a sudden you’re left with no hot water, the first thing you have to check is the circuit breaker, where a fuse might’ve tripped. Check the gas line. Someone might’ve accidentally switched it off. If the handle is parallel to the gas line, it means you have to keep looking for the issue. Another common cause is the emergency shutoff button. You can turn it off without noticing, which in turn switches off your heater.

Furnace Troubleshooting

If that’s not the case, head over to the thermostat. Keep an eye out for loose wires, old batteries and try to reset the thermostat according to the manual. If resetting the thermostat doesn’t prove successful, make sure the chimney exhaust flute is not clogged with debris. The flue’s warmth attracts birds in the autumn which could be the reason why the pipe is clotted and you heater broke down. You should also check the drain lines. These can easily get clogged with mold or sediment. To clean it up you’ll need a mixture of three parts water and one part bleach. Exhaust vents shouldn’t be blocked by anything. Make sure they’re clear and not clogged with ice or screen mesh.

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