furnace repair

Columbus is Getting Cold, but My Furnace Wont Turn On

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

There are several quick, reasonable fixes you can do by yourself to skip 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 a professional and live in Columbus, Wolfe & Sons Inc can assist you. We repair most types of heating systems.

If it’s time for a new heating system, we also provide furnace replacement in Columbus.

While you’re talking with us, consider a regular furnace maintenance plan from Wolfe & Sons Inc that could help you avoid breakdowns in the future. We can tell you how often your furnace should be checked by one of our NATE-certified specialists.

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

Steps for Furnace Troubleshooting

Check the Thermostat

First, make sure your thermostat is telling 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 set to the correct 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 cause the furnace to start 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 turned 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 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. Check 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, 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.
  • 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,” leave it alone and get in touch with a professional from Wolfe & Sons Inc at 614-362-9123 right away.

Regardless of your furnace’s age or brand, it has at least one standard wall switch located on or by 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 ignite. (If you don’t know where to find your furnace, look in 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 culprit.

If your filter is too dirty:

  • Your furnace won’t be able to stay on, or it could overheat from restricted airflow.
  • Your energy bills could increase because your furnace is turning on more often.
  • Your furnace could fail sooner than it should because a dirty filter causes it to work harder.
  • Your furnace can be disconnected from power if an excessively dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

Depending on what make of furnace you use, your air filter is located 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 hold it up to the light. If you can’t see light through it, get a new one.
  • Put in 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 replace your filter more often.

To make the process smoother 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

Also known as drain pans, condensate pans catch water your furnace removes 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 get at home improvement or hardware stores.
  • If your pan contains a pump, check the float switch. If the switch is stuck “up” with liquid in the pan, contact Wolfe & Sons Inc at 614-362-9123, because you will probably need a new pump.

Peek Inside Your Furnace

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

If you see anything else besides a steady, colored light or blinking green light, call Wolfe & Sons Inc at 614-362-9123. Your furnace may be giving an error code that is calling for professional service.

Clean the Flame Sensor

If your furnace tries to start but switches off without blowing heat, a dirty flame sensor could be at fault. When this happens, your furnace will try to ignite 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 on your own. Or, one of our HVAC experts at Wolfe & Sons Inc 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.
  • Remove 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 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 might proceed through a series of checks before resuming normal operation. If your furnace doesn’t start, the sensor may need to be replaced or something else might be wrong. If this happens, contact Wolfe & Sons Inc at 614-362-9123 for assistance.

Relight the Pilot Light

If you own 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.

  • Look for 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.”
  • 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 Wolfe & Sons Inc at 614-362-9123.

Check Your Fuel Source

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

Wolfe & Sons Inc Can Help with Furnace Problems

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

Call us today at 614-362-9123 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out and diagnose the problem.

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