furnace repair

Lincoln is Getting Cold, but My Furnace Wont Turn On

Figuring out a furnace-related problem might feel like an intimidating task when your heat won’t turn on. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

There are a couple of quick, low-cost fixes you can do on your own 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 Lincoln, AW Heating & Air Conditioning can assist you. We service most brands of heating systems.

If it’s time for a new heating system, we also provide furnace replacement in Lincoln.

While you’re in touch with us, think over a regular furnace maintenance plan from AW Heating & Air Conditioning that might help you avoid repairs in the future. We can tell you how frequently your furnace should be examined by one of our NATE-certified experts.

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

Steps for Furnace Troubleshooting

Check the Thermostat

First, make sure your thermostat is signaling your furnace to turn on.

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 right 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 trouble.
  • Increase the temperature setting to 5 degrees warmer than the room temperature.
Digital Thermostat

If your furnace hasn’t turned on within several minutes, make sure it has power by toggling the fan switch from “auto” to “on.” If the fan doesn’t start, 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. Take a look at 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, search 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,” don’t try to reset it and call a professional from AW Heating & Air Conditioning at 402-318-5351 right away.

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

  • Make sure the switch is flipped up in the “on” position. If it was turned off, anticipate your furnace could take up to five minutes to turn on. (If you don’t know where to find your furnace, look in 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 filthy, clogged air filter is often the top culprit.

If your filter is too dirty:

  • Your furnace won’t stay on, or it could overheat from reduced airflow.
  • Your energy bills could increase because your furnace is turning on too often.
  • Your furnace could break down prematurely because a dirty filter causes it to work overtime.
  • Your furnace can be cut off from power if an overly dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

Depending on what type of furnace you have, 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.
  • Pull out the filter and tilt it toward the light. If you can’t see light through it, get a new one.
  • Insert 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 get a washable filter that will last about 10 years. If you have children or pets, you may have to put in a new filter more frequently.

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

Also known as drain pans, condensate pans capture water your furnace draws 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 standing water in the pan, contact AW Heating & Air Conditioning at 402-318-5351, because you will probably need a new pump.

Peek Inside Your Furnace

If malfunctions continue, 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 except a steady, colored light or blinking green light, call AW Heating & Air Conditioning at 402-318-5351. Your furnace may be communicating an error code that needs professional service.

Clean the Flame Sensor

If your furnace tries to start but switches off without distributing heat, a dirty flame sensor could be at fault. When this occurs, your furnace will try to turn on three times before a safety feature turns it off 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 specialists at AW Heating & Air Conditioning 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:

  • Disable 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.
  • Remove the furnace’s front panel and follow 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 might proceed through a set of checks before proceeding with usual 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 AW Heating & Air Conditioning at 402-318-5351 for assistance.

Relight the Pilot Light

If you own 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 creating 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, call AW Heating & Air Conditioning at 402-318-5351.

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.

AW Heating & Air Conditioning Can Help with Furnace Problems

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

Call us today at 402-318-5351 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out and figure out the problem.

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