furnace repair

Carson City is Getting Cold, but My Furnace Wont Turn On

Troubleshooting your furnace might feel like an overwhelming chore when your heat won’t start. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

There are several quick, 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 calling an HVAC professional.

If you find you need help from a professional and live in Carson City, Anderson Heating & A/C can provide assistance to you. We repair most makes of heating systems.

If you’re ready for a new heating system, we also provide furnace replacement in Carson City.

While you’re in touch with us, consider an annual furnace maintenance plan from Anderson Heating & A/C that might help you avoid breakdowns in the future. We can tell you how frequently your furnace should be examined by one of our NATE-certified experts.

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

Steps for Furnace Troubleshooting

Check the Thermostat

First, make sure your thermostat is signaling your furnace to turn on.

If you have a digital thermostat:

  • Swap out 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 right day and time and is set to “run.” If you’re having a hard time overriding the program, set the temperature by using the up/down arrows and press the “hold” button. This will force the furnace to turn on if thermostat programming is causing a problem.
  • 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 start, your furnace might not have 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.

  • Locate your house’s main electrical panel. If you have no idea where it is, keep an eye out 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 contact a professional from Anderson Heating & A/C at 775-230-7628 right away.

Regardless of your furnace’s age or brand, it has at least one standard wall switch located on or near 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 ignite. (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 issues, a grungy, clogged air filter is regularly the top culprit.

If your filter is too dirty:

  • Your furnace won’t be able to stay on, or it could overheat from reduced airflow.
  • Your energy bills could be higher because your furnace is turning on more than it should.
  • Your furnace could stop working prematurely because a dirty filter causes it to work harder.
  • Your furnace can be cut off from power if an extremely dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

Depending on what model 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.
  • Pull out the filter and tilt it toward 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 replace your filter more frequently.

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

Examine the Condensate Pan

Otherwise known as drain pans, condensate pans catch water your furnace draws 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 buy at home improvement or hardware stores.
  • If your pan contains a pump, take a look at the float switch. If the switch is stuck “up” with liquid in the pan, contact Anderson Heating & A/C at 775-230-7628, because you will probably need a new pump.

Peek Inside Your Furnace

If malfunctions persist, peek inside your furnace’s plastic window to check 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 other than a steady, colored light or blinking green light, call Anderson Heating & A/C at 775-230-7628. Your furnace may be emitting an error code that is calling for professional service.

Clean the Flame Sensor

If your furnace tries to start but shuts off without distributing heat, a dirty flame sensor could be at fault. When this occurs, your furnace will attempt to start 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 on your own. Or, one of our HVAC experts at Anderson Heating & A/C 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:

  • Turn off 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 lightly 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 go through a series of checks before continuing normal operation. If your furnace doesn’t start, the sensor may need to be replaced or something else may be wrong. If this happens, contact Anderson Heating & A/C at 775-230-7628 for assistance.

Relight the Pilot Light

If you own 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.

  • 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 starting a fire.
  • Turn the knob to “pilot.”
  • Push 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, get in touch with Anderson Heating & A/C at 775-230-7628.

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.

Anderson Heating & A/C Can Help with Furnace Problems

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

Call us today at 775-230-7628 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out and diagnose the problem.

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