furnace repair

Ontario is Getting Cold, but My Furnace Wont Turn On

Figuring out a furnace-related problem might feel like a daunting job when your heat won’t work. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

There are a couple of quick, low-cost fixes you can do on your own to prevent 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 contacting an HVAC professional.

If you find you need help from someone who is experienced and live in Ontario, Stan's Heating, Inc can help you. We work on most types of heating systems.

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

While you’re in touch with us, think over an annual furnace maintenance plan from Stan's Heating, Inc that could help you avoid repairs in the future. We can tell you how regularly 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 know-how.

Steps for Furnace Troubleshooting

Check the Thermostat

To start, make sure your thermostat is signaling your furnace to ignite.

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” as opposed to “off” or “cool.”
  • Ensure the program is showing 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 cause the furnace to ignite 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 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 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 don’t know where it is, search 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 Stan's Heating, Inc at 541-286-6602 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 ignite. (If you don’t know where to find your furnace, take a look at 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 dirty, clogged air filter is regularly the top offender.

If your filter is too dirty:

  • Your furnace won’t keep heating your home, or it could overheat from limited airflow.
  • Your energy bills could increase because your furnace is turning on too often.
  • Your furnace could break down sooner than it should because a dirty filter causes it to work harder.
  • Your furnace can be disconnected from power if an overly dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

Depending on what make of furnace you own, 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, use 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 use 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 list 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 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 buy at home improvement or hardware stores.
  • If your pan uses a pump, take a look at the float switch. If the switch is stuck “up” with liquid in the pan, contact Stan's Heating, Inc at 541-286-6602, because you will possibly need a new pump.

Peek Inside Your Furnace

If malfunctions keep on happening, look inside your furnace’s plastic window to confirm 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 Stan's Heating, Inc at 541-286-6602. Your furnace may be communicating an error code that is calling for professional help.

Clean the Flame Sensor

If your furnace tries to start but shuts off without blowing heat, a dirty flame sensor could be to blame. When this occurs, your furnace will attempt 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 by yourself. Or, one of our HVAC professionals at Stan's Heating, 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.
  • Lift 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 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 run 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 may be wrong. If this happens, call Stan's Heating, Inc at 541-286-6602 for assistance.

Relight the Pilot Light

If you own 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.

  • 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 creating 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, get in touch with Stan's Heating, Inc at 541-286-6602.

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.

Stan's Heating, Inc Can Help with Furnace Problems

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

Call us today at 541-286-6602 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out and pinpoint the problem.

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