As the weather gets chillier and chillier, your home should feel like your refuge from the harsh outdoors. Ensuring that your home is warm and cozy during the winter is not only a matter of comfort, but a matter of staying healthy and safe.

If you notice your gas furnace acting up, you may be able to do a little troubleshooting to see whether or not it will be an easy fix. Even if you need to call in the professionals, some quick investigative work will provide you with more information you can provide the HVAC repair company when you call in. If your furnace is acting finicky, check on the items below to see if you can figure out what’s going on.

Check Your Thermostat

Before you investigate your home furnace unit to locate the potential cause of trouble, check your thermostat. It’s possible your furnace malfunction may be an easier fix than you think. The first thing you should do is double check that your thermostat is set to “heat”. This may sound like a no-brainer, but the switch that changes your thermostat from “cool” to “heat” can get easily bumped when cleaning, and if you have children, it’s very possible that someone may have been touching the setting buttons.

If your thermostat is set correctly and your heat still isn’t on or the temperature listed on the thermostat obviously doesn’t match the temperature of the room, it’s time to check out your furnace unit and see if something else is going on. It’s still possible that your thermostat might be malfunctioning and will need to be checked out by a professional.

Is Your Pilot Light Out?

If your furnace suddenly stops working or pushing air through your home, the first thing you should check on is the pilot light. The gas flame that stays ignited to keep your system running to heat your home can easily be blown out by a draft or dirt found in the gas tube.

To check on your pilot light, find the burner chamber door on your furnace; this will be located at the bottom of your unit. Once you open the chamber door you can look for the pilot light tube—a small metal tube that turns up at the end. If the pilot light is lit, you’ll see a small flame at the end of the tube. If not, if needs to be re-ignited, which is an easy fix! You can follow the instructions outlined in the user manual for your furnace to get things up and running again. If you follow the process correctly and your pilot light won’t stay ignited, call our professionals; there is likely a larger issue that our team can investigate further.

Do You Need a New Furnace Filter?

If your furnace isn’t pumping enough air through your vents or isn’t turning on at all, it could be as simple as needing a new air filter. Over time, furnace filters collect a build-up of dust and dirt which prevents air from flowing through, and if it’s dirty enough, it could even prevent your HVAC system from turning on when it should. It’s also important to regularly check your furnace filters as an unclean filter can quickly become a fire hazard or wear out your heating system prematurely because of the extra effort required by the system to pump air through a dirty filter.

Here’s how to check the condition of your filter:

  • Be sure to start by switching off your thermostat before you investigate to avoid the system turning on and off while you work.
  • Go to your heating unit, locate the filter, and remove it. Hold the filter up to a light source (ideally an overhead light or a lamp). If it’s difficult for the light to pass through the filter, it’s time to clean it or replace it with a new one.
  • If installing a new filter, be sure that the arrows on the filter are pointing in the direction of the airflow to ensure it filters the air properly when the system gets turned back on.

After you’ve checked the filter and confirmed it’s clean, cleaned it, or replaced it with a new one, turn the thermostat back on and see if that solved your heating issue. You should leave yourself calendar reminders to check your furnace filter every 30 days to make sure that your system runs to its full potential safely all winter.

Have You Checked Your Electrical Panel and Furnace Switch?

If it doesn’t seem like your thermostat, pilot light, or filter is causing the problem, the next place you should look is your furnace switch. This is located near the furnace; it’s possible it could have been accidentally switched off in passing or by a child while playing. Locate the furnace switch and ensure that it’s switched to “on.” If it is, check the electrical panel next.

Open your electrical panel and find the circuit that is connected to the furnace. If it’s been thrown into the “off” position, it simply needs to be switched back to “on.” If you aren’t sure which switch goes to your furnace, see if you can identify if any of the switches are in the “off” position while the rest are in “on.” If your furnace is malfunctioning, that is likely the correct switch.

These tips can help you play amateur investigator if your home heating system is showing signs of trouble. Some of these easy fixes can save you an unnecessary call to the HVAC company! We at Wyckoff are all about making sure homeowners are armed with  the information needed to keep their HVAC systems running as smoothly as possible. Some fixes are better left to the professionals, though; if none of the fixes above work for your heating system or if you’ve noticed something else concerning about your home furnace, please give us a call and one of our experienced professionals will put you on their schedule for a visit as soon as possible.