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Turning on the Heater

A little anxiety is common the first time the crisp feel of fall forces you to turn your furnace on each year. You anticipate a little musty smell from dust that has settled on the burners. You hear the igniter clicking for several seconds and then the big woosh as the burners come to life. But what if there is no woosh? Here are a couple things you might want to check before calling us.

Thermostat And Breakers

Check the thermostat for power and proper settings. If it’s a digital unit, do you see a readout? Maybe the back-up battery needs replacing. After having it on A/C for many months, make sure you’ve switched to HEAT. Set the thermostat way up; like to 90. If that doesn’t do it, check the furnace breaker switch on your main electrical panel. Flip it off and on just in case it was tripped during the summer. Next check the heating unit itself. Make sure all the panels and doors are secure since some have safety breakers that may prevent your unit from operating if they’re left open.

Dirty or Clogged Filters

We keep coming back to this, don’t we? But it’s a huge problem and we see it all the time. Make sure the filters on your cold air returns (you probably only have one) are serviceable.  They don’t have to be snow white but they need to be changed at least two to four times a year.  Otherwise your home won’t heat properly and your furnace will wear out quicker. 

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Igniter or Pilot Light

This isn’t one that we recommend doing yourself but it may help you identify the problem.

Gas and propane central heating units light the gas or propane via an electronic igniter. After verifying that the thermostat has power and is operational, and the heat doesn’t come on after setting the thermostat to call for heat, shut off the gas reset valve inside the unit. Wait five minutes before turning it back on. If this reset action doesn’t reset the igniter, verify that you have gas. If gas is available, and the igniter doesn’t light after the reset, replace the igniter or,  preferably, call us. CLICK HERE to arrange an appointment.

Other Considerations

Check that registers are open and there is good air flow. Closed registers affect the ability of your system to deliver heated air properly. After cleaning the filters and checking for power and ignition, and you still don’t have air flow, check the blower motors in the furnace. Some blower motors are belt-driven, and require belt replacement periodically. Look for a frayed or cracked belt that has lost its tension.

Seasonal Check Up

Of course, when you call us to do your winter system tune-up, we’ll check all this. Often we can spot problems before they occur and eliminate the discomfort of problems that always seem to happen at the worst time. Call us today so that the next winter storm doesn’t take you by surprise.