furnace repair

Hudsonville is Getting Cold, but My Furnace Wont Turn On

Fixing your furnace might feel like an intimidating chore when your heat won’t work. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

There are several fast, low-cost fixes you can do by yourself 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 calling an HVAC professional.

If you find you need help from a professional and live in Hudsonville, West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services can provide assistance to you. We work on most makes of heating systems.

If you need a new heating system, we also do furnace replacement in Hudsonville.

While you’re chatting with us, think over a routine furnace maintenance plan from West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services that could help you avoid breakdowns in the future. We can tell you how regularly your furnace should be examined by one of our NATE-certified professionals.

Follow our easy guide below to get started on troubleshooting your furnace. Most of these steps don’t require mechanical abilities.

Steps for Furnace Troubleshooting

Check the Thermostat

To begin, make sure your thermostat is telling your furnace to start.

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” instead of “off” or “cool.”
  • Ensure the program is set to the appropriate 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 force the furnace to ignite if thermostat programming is causing trouble.
  • Increase the temperature setting to 5 degrees warmer than the room temperature.
Digital Thermostat

If your furnace hasn’t kicked on within a couple minutes, make sure it has power by toggling the fan switch from “auto” to “on.” If the fan doesn’t run, your furnace could be without power.

If you have a smart thermostat—like one made by Nest, Ecobee, Lux, Honeywell or Bosch—troubleshooting is very model-specific. Refer to 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 have no idea where it is, look 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.
  • Find 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 West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services at (616) 669-3961 right away.

No matter your furnace’s age or brand, it has at least one standard wall switch located on or by it.

  • Make sure the switch is flipped up in the “on” position. If it was turned off, expect your furnace to take up to five minutes to turn on. (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 grungy, clogged air filter is frequently to blame.

If your filter is too dirty:

  • Your furnace won’t stay on, or it could overheat from limited airflow.
  • Your energy bills could be higher because your furnace is turning on too often.
  • Your furnace could stop working prematurely because a dirty filter causes it to work overtime.
  • Your furnace can lose power if an overly dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

Depending on what model of furnace you have, your air filter can be found 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.
  • Pull out the filter and tilt it toward the light. If you can’t see light through it, replace it.
  • Put in the new filter with the arrow pointing toward the furnace to avoid damage.

Flat filters should be replaced once a month, 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 sooner.

To make the process go more quickly 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

Otherwise known as drain pans, condensate pans hold water your furnace removes 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 get at home improvement or hardware stores.
  • If your pan has a pump, inspect the float switch. If the switch is stuck “up” with standing water in the pan, contact West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services at (616) 669-3961, because you will probably need a new pump.

Peek Inside Your Furnace

If malfunctions keep on happening, take a look inside your furnace’s plastic window to verify the status of the blower motor. Depending on the model, the light could also be mounted on the outside of your furnace.

If you see anything else besides a steady, colored light or blinking green light, call West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services at (616) 669-3961. Your furnace may be emitting an error code that needs professional assistance.

Clean the Flame Sensor

If your furnace tries to start but shuts off without distributing heat, a dirty flame sensor could be to blame. When this takes place, your furnace will attempt to start three times before a safety feature shuts it down for about an hour.

If you feel comfortable with opening up your furnace, cleaning your flame sensor is something you can do yourself. Or, one of our HVAC experts at West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services 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:

  • Shut off 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.
  • Take off the furnace’s front panel and track 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 could run through a series of checks before resuming usual operation. If your furnace doesn’t ignite, the sensor may need to be replaced or something else may be wrong. If this happens, get in touch with West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services at (616) 669-3961 for assistance.

Relight the Pilot Light

If you are using an older furnace, the pilot light could be out. 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 starting a fire.
  • Turn the knob to “pilot.”
  • Press 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, contact West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services at (616) 669-3961.

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.

West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services Can Help with Furnace Problems

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

Call us today at (616) 669-3961 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out and diagnose the problem.

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