Tuesday, March 5

Troubleshooting your Furnace, When to call a Pro

Reader John Hopper asks "What do you do if your furnace runs and runs but no heat comes out? What would cause this? Is it an easy fix or do you need a repairman?" Here are five things that you can check before you call in a professional.

Is the pilot light lit?

Yes it is a simple question and it's a simple solution. Check this first and you just might save yourself from having to do anything else!  The location of the pilot is usually at the bottom of the unit, behind the door.

Great air filters!

Check your filter.

Has it been changed recently? A dirty filter can prevent the heat from reaching the rest of the house. If you have a combo Furnace/Ac Unit it's a good idea to change the filter every single month, even if it does not look dirty. If it's just a furnace, change the filter throughout the time period that you use it and be sure to change out your AC filter when you use that unit! Many people will check the filter, see that it is not dirty and leave it in there. Bad idea. You can get filters for $ and avoid spending $$$ for repairs caused by a dirty system.

Check for warm air.
While you are checking the filter, check the furnace, is there warm air coming out? If Yes then check your blower fan, does it spin freely? It may just need more oil.

Check your thermostat.

It can fail and if your thermostat is not working properly, it can affect the furnace and/or AC. If you have not already, it's a great opportunity to install a programmable thermostat. The Nest is a great concept for techie fans but the reality is this Honeywell brand works well for most people, the savings associated with the Nest relative to the cost of the Nest will take many years to see an ROI. 

Turn your furnace completely off. 

Teamwork logo
Teamwork logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Turn it on. Turn it to a higher temperature than the current room temperature. Stand in front of the furnace. There will be a very distinct sequence of events. Take note of the sequence. You may need someone to handle the turn on/ turn off so you can stay in front of the furnace.

These are items that most homeowners can check easily. If the issue is not resolved, you can call the manufacturer of your unit's 1-800 number and describe the sequence of events you noted in step five. They may be able to offer additional troubleshooting items specific to your unit. If you are more mechanically inclined, using the sequence you noted in item five, you can use google to track down additional steps that might help you via online forums, there is a lot of information out there!

If you do need to call in a repairman, you will have a better idea of what the problem is. Knowledge is power. There are many dishonest companies out there, ALWAYS get at least three companies out to look at any home issue that you have, unless you have a service company that you know and trust. Anytime you are given an estimate that makes your head spin,  get a second and even a third opinion. Do not tell the second or the third service person anything more about the problem than you told the first service person. Example: "Company A was out and they said that it's the X and it will be $$ to replace." Treat each guy as the first service person. Be sure you let him know the trouble shooting that you have already undertaken.

Was this helpful? Do you have any other tips to share? Horror Stories to tell?

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