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My Furnace isn’t Working — What’s Gone Wrong?

Your furnace breathes just like you do, so when it isn’t working well, it may not be circulating heated air properly or venting flue gases like it should. Regular maintenance keeps your furnace healthy and working at its best, but sometimes problems arise. When it comes to furnace troubleshooting, it can be hard to know where to start.

Reasons Why Your Furnace Isn't Working

Cold toes and fingers aren't fun for anybody. When your heater isn’t working, it can ruin your mood, but that’s not all: Whether your furnace is blowing cold air or it’s not turning on, you could be risking your health if you leave the problem unresolved.

Potential Issues

  • not reaching temperature set on thermostat
  • no heat coming from vents
  • heating unit won't turn on

Inside your home's heating and cooling system, there is a blower motor that spins the fans to circulate air and keep the temperature even throughout your home. If debris gets into the fan or the bearings wear down, the motor can break down. When the blower motor fails, that circulation stops and your cooling or heating system will not work properly. But, before either system shuts down, the first thing you'll likely notice is that your home won't reach the temperature set on your thermostat. To get your systems back in line, you'll need to repair or replace your blower motor.

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  • furnace is blowing cold air
  • heating unit won't turn on
  • no heat coming from vents

The pilot light is the internal flame that keeps the heart of your furnace running. Each time your thermostat tells the furnace to turn on the heat, it uses the small, ever-burning pilot light to relight the burners. If it goes out for any reason, then the burners won't be able to light and your furnace won't be able to produce heat. In most cases, the pilot light can simply be relit. If it won't relight, there may be more significant issues with your furnace.

  • heating unit won't turn on
  • no heat coming from vents

Your gas furnace has an ignitor. Gas flows over the ignitor to create a flame within the heat exchanger. Air warms up as it passes over the flame. So without the ignitor, your furnace cannot produce warm air.

  • no power in some rooms
  • air conditioner won’t turn on
  • no power to devices
  • heating unit won't turn on
  • power is out
  • no heat coming from vents
  • thermostat is blank

A circuit breaker is the central source of electrical power in your home that supplies your network of electrical control circuits that run power to outlets, lights, alarms, etc with power. When your circuit breaker is overloaded with too much power for one reason or another, it trips. A tripped circuit breaker may cause you to lose power in one room or more, depending on how many rooms are powered by a circuit. It’s important to remember that tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses are not a cause, they are a symptom. Something else is going on with your system to cause it to overload.

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  • thermostat is blank
  • no heat coming from vents
  • heating unit won't turn on

If your furnace isn't working, the issue could be as simple as a flipped power switch or emergency switch. A furnace switch can also be referred to as a furnace disconnect switch, which describes exactly what it does: disconnects furnace power to turn it on and off when needed. This switch often gets turned off accidentally, in situations such as by a contractor who was performing service, children playing around the furnace, or otherwise.

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  • no hot water
  • no heat coming from vents

The gas valve is a small switch with a large effect on your home. This little valve stands between your home and the gas supply lines, allowing you to stop gas from entering your home when something breaks or you need to replace a gas-powered appliance. If it gets turned or bumped and shuts off the gas accidentally, it can cause quite a headache before you figure out what's wrong. Once you do, relief is as easy as turning it back on.

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