Furnace Troubleshooting

What Do You Do If You Realize Your Heating System Is Not Functioning Properly?

Quality West is happy to provide you with several tips that can possibly help you avoid a service call if you only discover a minor issue with your furnace. However, most of the repairs listed are only temporary solutions and it is highly recommended that you follow up with a professional to ensure the proper operation and safety of your system.

Tips for Troubleshooting Your Heating System:

If you smell gas or suspect a gas leak, leave the property immediately, and call 911 or Xcel Energy at 800-895-4999.
When a furnace unexpectedly stops working or fails to start, there are some simple procedures you can try before calling professionals. Naturally, do not hesitate to call for service if you feel uncertain about how to proceed or if you suspect danger.

Check the furnace filter.

If it hasn’t been replaced or cleaned in a while and appears very dirty, it may be restricting the airflow to the furnace (which can inhibit the normal furnace operation). Replace or clean the filter, then reset the furnace by turning the power switch off, then back on. It is surprising how often this simple solution will correct a furnace problem. Remember, furnace filters should be changed or cleaned monthly, or per manufacturer recommendation.

Check the thermostat.

The thermostat governs the automatic operation of the furnace. Check to make sure the batteries in the thermostat are working…yes, most thermostats have batteries. If the controls or dial is set to a lower temperature that the thermostat is showing, set the control 5 to 10 degrees higher than the the current indoor temperature displayed. If the thermostat has a timer, see that its settings allow the furnace to be on at the time you are checking it. Making these adjustments may start the furnace.

Check the power switch.

If the furnace still won’t power on after checking the thermostat then check the switch governing the power to the furnace. Most resemble ordinary wall switches and can be switched off inadvertently. You can find the switch in the furnace room on the wall near the furnace. Returning the switch to the “on” position should restart the furnace.

Check the breaker box.

If the furnace still does not start, go to the electrical service panel (or fuse box) and check whether the circuit breakers or fuses governing the furnace have tripped or blown. Be sure to turn the emergency switch (see previous step) to the off position before resetting breakers or replacing fuses. Tripped circuit breakers are easily spotted. But it is not obvious when the cartridge fuses for furnaces have blown. To be on the safe side, replace fuses that are more than five years old, or you can try the remaining restart procedures and if they fail, then try replacing the fuses.

Check the pilot.

In older gas furnaces, check to see if the pilot flame has gone out. To see the flame, you usually must remove the access panel. This will also reveal the gas valve, which must be closed and reopened when relighting a pilot flame. If the pilot flame is out, set the thermostat to its lowest setting. Then shut off the gas supply and relight the pilot by one of the methods described below, or as specified in the instructions printed on the furnace.
There are two common types of gas valves. One, called a combination valve, has a dial that can be pushed inward and rotated to settings marked “pilot” and “on” The other, a single-function valve, has a small lever or button that can be pushed.

  • To shut off the gas supply to a combination valve, close the single large-handled valve on the gas pipe leading to the furnace. To shut off the gas to a button valve, close both the large-handled valve and the adjacent smaller valve, which controls the pilot gas. Wait five minutes to allow unburned gas in the furnace to escape. Then, if you have a combination valve, turn the setting to “pilot” and reopen the gas supply valve.
  • Hold a burning match beside the pilot burner inside the furnace while pressing on the dial. After the burner lights, continue pressing the dial for one minute. If the flame goes out when the dial released, repeat the procedure once; if the flame goes out again close the gas supply and call for service.

If you have a button valve, open only the small gas supply valve. Press and hold the button for one minute while relighting. If the pilot does not stay lighted after two attempts, close the gas supply and call for service.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us to schedule an appointment or call 303-522-9597.

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