furnace repair

Excelsior Springs is Getting Cold, but My Furnace Wont Turn On

Figuring out a furnace-related problem might feel like an overwhelming chore when your heat won’t start. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

There are several time-saving, inexpensive fixes you can do on your own to skip 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 Excelsior Springs, Colvin's Heating and Cooling can assist you. We work on most makes of heating systems.

If it’s time for a new heating system, we also offer furnace replacement in Excelsior Springs.

While you’re chatting with us, consider a regular furnace maintenance plan from Colvin's Heating and Cooling that might help you avoid problems in the future. We can tell you how frequently your furnace should be checked by one of our NATE-certified professionals.

Use our easy guide below to start troubleshooting your furnace. Most of these steps don’t require mechanical skills.

Steps for Furnace Troubleshooting

Check the Thermostat

First, make sure your thermostat is telling your furnace to ignite.

If you have a digital thermostat:

  • Replace 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 correct day and time and is set to “run.” If you’re having problems overriding the program, set the temperature by using the up/down arrows and press the “hold” button. This will cause the furnace to start if thermostat programming is causing a problem.
  • Increase the temperature setting to 5 degrees warmer than the room temperature.
Digital Thermostat

If your furnace hasn’t kicked on within few minutes, make sure it has power by toggling the fan switch from “auto” to “on.” If the fan doesn’t begin to run, your furnace might not have 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.

  • Look for your house’s main electrical panel. If you aren’t sure where it is, keep an eye out 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.
  • Look for 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,” leave it alone and call a professional from Colvin's Heating and Cooling at 816-379-3918 right away.

Regardless of your furnace’s age or brand, it has at least one standard wall switch located on or close to it.

  • Make sure the switch is flipped up in the “on” position. If it was turned off, it could take your furnace up to five minutes to start. (If you don’t know where to find your furnace, check 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 issues, a filthy, clogged air filter is frequently to blame.

If your filter is too dirty:

  • Your furnace won’t be able to stay on, or it could overheat from restricted airflow.
  • Your energy bills could increase because your furnace is turning on too often.
  • Your furnace could stop working sooner than it should because a dirty filter causes it to work overtime.
  • Your furnace can be cut off from power if an excessively dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

Depending on what make of furnace you use, your air filter will be 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.
  • Take out the filter and angle it toward the light. If you can’t see light through it, replace it.
  • Install 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 buy a washable filter that will last about 10 years. If you have children or pets, you may have to replace your filter more frequently.

To make the process easier in the future, use a permanent marker on your furnace housing or ductwork to indicate the airflow direction and filter size.

Examine the Condensate Pan

Otherwise known as drain pans, condensate pans capture water your furnace pulls from the air.

If water is seeping 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 isn’t full. If it needs to be drained, use a special pan-cleaning tablet you can buy at home improvement or hardware stores.
  • If your pan uses a pump, inspect the float switch. If the switch is stuck “up” with liquid in the pan, contact Colvin's Heating and Cooling at 816-379-3918, because you will possibly need a new pump.

Peek Inside Your Furnace

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

If you see anything other than a steady, colored light or blinking green light, call Colvin's Heating and Cooling at 816-379-3918. Your furnace may be giving an error code that requires professional assistance.

Clean the Flame Sensor

If your furnace tries to start but shuts off without blowing heat, a dirty flame sensor could be at fault. When this takes place, your furnace will try to ignite three times before a safety feature powers it down for about an hour.

If you feel comfortable with opening up your furnace, cleaning your flame sensor is something you can do on your own. Or, one of our HVAC professionals at Colvin's Heating and Cooling 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 trace the wire to the flame sensor.
  • Unscrew the rod and use your sandpaper, steel wool or emery cloth to gently 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 may proceed through a set of checks before continuing normal operation. If your furnace doesn’t turn on, the sensor may need to be replaced or something else may be wrong. If this happens, get in touch with Colvin's Heating and Cooling at 816-379-3918 for assistance.

Relight the Pilot Light

If you are using an older furnace, the pilot light could be turned off. 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 sparking a fire.
  • Turn the knob to “pilot.”
  • Hold down 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, get in touch with Colvin's Heating and Cooling at 816-379-3918.

Check Your Fuel Source

Try switching on another gas appliance. If it doesn’t work, your natural gas service could be turned off, or you could be out of propane.

Colvin's Heating and Cooling Can Help with Furnace Problems

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

Call us today at 816-379-3918 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out and diagnose the problem.

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