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December 20, 2018
Here’s a scenario that may sound familiar to Upstate NY homeowners: You get home from work on a blustery winter day to find that your house is cold — a little too cold. At first, you think you simply tracked the snowy weather in behind you on your way in; but after just a few minutes inside your home, you realize the problem is something much worse. Apparently your heating system isn’t turning on at all!
We’ve met a number of homeowners who have had to put up with furnace issues in the dead of winter — which, as you know, isn’t fun for anyone in the Utica and Rome areas. Sometimes the cause is something simple, and sometimes it’s something a little more complex.
If your furnace doesn’t seem to want to turn on, here are some potential reasons why.
Your Thermostat Settings Are Incorrect
Often, it really is this simple! Check your thermostat to make sure it is indeed in heating mode and that it hasn’t gone into vacation mode. Be sure that it has working batteries and is properly connected as well.
You Have a Tripped Circuit Breaker
If everything looks right with the thermostat, the problem could have something to do with your electrical panel. Head to the circuit breaker box and find the breaker for your furnace. (Even gas furnaces have electrical components like the ignition system and fan.) If the breaker is in the middle position, you’ve got a tripped circuit on your hands. Simply turn the breaker to the off position and then back to the on position, and this should resolve the problem.
The Pilot Light Has Gone Out
If you have an older furnace with a pilot light system, your furnace relies on a continually burning flame (also known as the pilot light) to ignite the gas. When this flame goes out (either due to a nearby draft, dirt buildup, or a malfunctioning thermocouple), your heating system cannot operate properly.
Sometimes resolving the issue is as simple as relighting the pilot light. Other times, you’ll need a furnace repair. In this scenario, it’s best to let an HVAC professional diagnose and repair the issue.
A Safety Switch Is Malfunctioning
Your furnace has safety switches which shut your heating system off when they detect a potentially dangerous furnace issue. For example, the pilot light switch shuts off the gas supply when it detects that there is no pilot light. The limit switch turns your furnace off when it detects overheating.
Sometimes when your furnace doesn’t turn on, it’s a sign that these safety switches are doing their job and that it’s time to schedule a heating repair. At other times, there could be an issue with the safety switch itself.
Trust the Local Experts with Your Furnace Issues
When in doubt, it’s best to trust your local heating specialist when a furnace issue arises. Having been in the business for over 80 years, Fred F. Collis & Sons is here to help you diagnose the root cause behind a furnace that won’t stay on.