Troubleshooting Your Furnace

A functional furnace is essential to most homeowners. As the chilly weather starts to settle in Toronto, having a non-functional furnace can be frustrating.

If you find your furnace not working as well as you would like it to, there is no need to break a sweat. A switch click may be all it takes to resolve the issue. Some of the problems you experience with your furnace might be common issues that do not require a technician. You might incur little or no cost in trying to troubleshoot by yourself.

It is, therefore, essential to try and resolve issues with your furnace by yourself before engaging a professional.

If you find the problem difficult to solve, you can seek professional help. The Boiler Shoppe team is always available for service.

Here are some simple steps you can follow when troubleshooting the furnace, yourself.

Thermostat controls check

You can check a few things to ensure your thermostat is working well.

  • Obvious as it may be, the first step in troubleshooting should be to check that the thermostat is in the "heat" position. The "heat" option communicates to the furnace to heat up.
  • Confirm that the temperature setting on your thermostat is high enough to turn on the furnace. Temperatures above room temperature by at least five degrees are enough to kick-start it. After setting the temperatures, give it some time to warm up and activate the blower.
  • Look for any cuts or breaks on the wires connecting to the thermostat. If you are not confident with splicing the parts back, you can leave it to a professional. However, if you are familiar with electrical wires, you may need some electrical tape to wrap around them, which is enough to do the trick.
  • Change your batteries. Most thermostats use batteries, and it could be your batteries are dead. Most programmable thermostats give a warning when the cells are almost out. When the "low battery" icon flashes, it indicates it is time to install new batteries.
  • Clean out dust and debris, as they can occasionally cause electrical system disruption. A blower is recommendable for cleaning the thermostat.
  • Reset your schedule and temperature settings. Some thermostats tend to reset to default in case of a power outage. Try programming your schedule and temperature again to get the thermostat back to your desired state.

Power switch check

If the thermostat is in good condition, but the furnace is yet to start working, check to see whether the power switch is on. The power switch is mainly on the wall around the furnaces.

Some furnaces have a power switch at the back that needs to be in the "on" position. If turned on but the problem persists, confirm whether the fuse in the furnace power switch is okay. If it looks blackened, the fuse is most likely burnt and requires replacement. You can open it and replace the fuse yourself or call for a professional to handle it.

Circuit Breakers Check.

If the power switches are on but still the furnace is not working, you need to check the breakers. It is a common problem for a circuit breaker to trip. Below is a guide on how to inspect your breakers.

  • Look for a box around the furnace labeled "furnace." It contains several circuit breakers that look like switches.
  • Confirm that circuits are in the "on" position. If one of them is not, gently push it to the "on" position.
  • It will be up and running if nothing else is troubling your furnace.

Otherwise, when all circuits are in the "on" position and your furnace is not working, you might have a bigger problem.

Check your front panel door

Modern furnaces are equipped with safety switches on their front panels, preventing them from engaging if the door is not closed completely. A well-fastened door pushes a control under it that allows the furnace to operate. If you are unsure, review the owner's manual for guidance.

Check your filter

Another common problem with furnaces is a dirty and clogged filter. Filters trap dust and dirt. The trapped dust and dirt clog the filter, which restricts airflow. The heat exchanger can overheat and shut down when it does not get enough airflow. Consider changing your filter if your blower is still running, but the house is not warming up.

The newer furnace models have a detector that prevents the furnace from working if the filters are clogged to minimize damage. Read the owner's manual if unsure where the filter is and how to remove or replace it.

To know whether a filter is clogged, you can hold it to the light. If the light coming through is not clear, it is time to change your filter. Most filters can be replaced after one to three months of use, depending on the nature of your home. If your home is prone to more pet fur and dust, consider changing the filter after a month.

Pilot light check

Gas furnaces have a pilot light that detects whether gas is flowing through your system. Here is how to check the pilot light.

  • The gas valve must be on for the furnace to operate. The gas valve looks like a handle on the gas pipe. For it to be on, the handle needs to be parallel to the gas pipe.
  • Once the handle is on, remove the front panel to check that the light is on.

If the pilot light does not turn on, it is best to engage a professional for further troubleshooting and repair. The Boiler Shoppe repair service is your best bet for a solution provider.

Check your intake and exhaust vents

Modern furnaces do not vent through chimneys. Instead, they feature exhaust and fresh air intakes running down the house's side. It is more likely that leaves, snow, insects, and other windblown debris can block these vents. Cleaning out that which is possible to clean out can help get your furnace back on track.

If the furnace does not get back up after cleaning the debris, your problem might be more extensive. Consult a technician for any further exhaust issues.

Chimney exhaust check

Birds can fall into the chimney exhaust after being drawn in by the warmth. These birds or their feathers can cause a blockage of the exhaust that may affect the efficiency of your furnace. To clear the exhaust of any debris;

  • You need to turn off the thermostat and furnace first.
  • Disassemble the duct where it leaves the furnace.
  • Check for litter and clean out any refuse.
  • Reassemble the parts using the same order and direction as you took them apart.

Check for leaky or blocked ducts

If some rooms are warming up but others are not, confirm that the registers are open.

  • In most homes, the heating ducts are on the floor and can easily get blocked. Look out for rugs, curtains, or furniture blocking the vents. Ensure you clear the ducts of any obstruction to allow unrestricted airflow.
  • Inspect any ductwork you can access, looking for openings between branching points or sections. If there are gaps, use metal duct tape to seal them. Avoid using cloth duct tape as it may cause a leakage in the duct.

Flush your drain lines

During the heating season, most furnaces drain a lot of water in a single day. If mold growth or debris blocks drain lines, furnaces turn off. If the hose draining the water appears dirty, remove it, fill it with water and bleach solution and flush it after a few minutes.

Call an expert

After trying all the troubleshooting steps and your furnace is still not functioning as desired, it is time to engage an expert. Reach out to The Boiler Shoppe, GTA's experts for HVAC and heat pump solutions that guarantee satisfaction for your furnace repair in Toronto, Ontario.