furnace repair

Rocky Mount is Getting Cold, but My Furnace Wont Turn On

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

There are a couple of time-saving, low-cost fixes you can do by yourself 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 Rocky Mount, Davis Heating & Air Conditioning can provide assistance to you. We repair most makes of heating systems.

If you need a new heating system, we also do furnace replacement in Rocky Mount.

While you’re in touch with us, think over an annual furnace maintenance plan from Davis Heating & Air Conditioning that may help you avoid repairs in the future. We can tell you how often your furnace should be examined by one of our NATE-certified professionals.

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

Steps for Furnace Troubleshooting

Check the Thermostat

First, make sure your thermostat is signaling your furnace to ignite.

If you have a digital thermostat:

  • Replace 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 displaying the correct 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 make the furnace to ignite 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 started within few minutes, make sure it has power by toggling the fan switch from “auto” to “on.” If the fan doesn’t begin to run, your furnace may not have power.

If you have a smart thermostat—like one made by Nest, Ecobee, Lux, Honeywell or Bosch—troubleshooting is very model-specific. Refer to 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.

  • Look for your house’s main electrical panel. If you don’t know 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.
  • Look for 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 try to reset it and call a professional from Davis Heating & Air Conditioning at 540-369-3790 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, expect your furnace to take up to five minutes to turn on. (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 problems, a dirty, clogged air filter is often the top culprit.

If your filter is too dirty:

  • Your furnace won’t keep heating your home, or it could overheat from reduced airflow.
  • Your energy bills could be higher because your furnace is turning on more often.
  • Your furnace could stop working too soon because a dirty filter causes it to work overtime.
  • Your furnace can be disconnected from power if an extremely dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

Depending on what make of furnace you use, your air filter will be 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 tilt it toward the light. If you can’t see light through it, get a new one.
  • Install the new filter with the arrow pointing toward the furnace to avoid damage.

Flat filters should be replaced monthly, 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 change your filter sooner.

To make the process easier 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 purchase at home improvement or hardware stores.
  • If your pan uses a pump, check the float switch. If the switch is stuck “up” with standing water in the pan, contact Davis Heating & Air Conditioning at 540-369-3790, because you will possibly need a new pump.

Peek Inside Your Furnace

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

If you see anything except a steady, colored light or blinking green light, call Davis Heating & Air Conditioning at 540-369-3790. Your furnace may be giving an error code that is calling for professional assistance.

Clean the Flame Sensor

If your furnace tries to start but turns off without blowing heat, a dirty flame sensor could be at fault. When this happens, your furnace will make an attempt to turn on three times before a safety feature powers 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 Davis Heating & Air Conditioning 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 track 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 may go through a sequence of checks before continuing usual operation. If your furnace doesn’t turn on, the sensor may need to be replaced or something else could be wrong. If this happens, contact Davis Heating & Air Conditioning at 540-369-3790 for assistance.

Relight the Pilot Light

If you are using an older furnace, the pilot light could be out. 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 starting 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, get in touch with Davis Heating & Air Conditioning at 540-369-3790.

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.

Davis Heating & Air Conditioning Can Help with Furnace Problems

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

Call us today at 540-369-3790 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out and figure out the problem.

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