When your furnace won’t start, doing your own furnace repair in Richmond, British Columbia, can feel pretty overwhelming.

Troubleshooting your furnace might feel like an intimidating job when your heat won’t work. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

There are a few speedy, inexpensive 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 contacting an HVAC professional.

If you find you need help from a heating and cooling pro and live in Richmond, Refrigeration Systems Ltd. can assist you. We can repair most makes of heating systems and also provide emergency furnace repair.

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

While you’re talking with us, consider an annual furnace maintenance plan that could help you avoid problems in the future. We can tell you how frequently your furnace should be inspected by one of our Certified Pros.

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

Furnace Repair Checklist

1. Check the Thermostat

To begin, make sure your thermostat is telling your furnace to ignite.

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” rather than “off” or “cool.”

Ensure the program is showing 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 make the furnace to start if thermostat programming is causing trouble.

Increase the temperature setting to 5 degrees warmer than the room temperature.

If your furnace hasn’t turned on within a couple 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.

Smart Thermostat

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, call us at 778-693-2532 for heating and cooling service.

2. 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, 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 touch it and get in touch with a professional from Refrigeration Systems Ltd. at 778-693-2532 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, check your basement, garage or utility closet. It could also be in a crawl space or attic.)

3. Replace the Air Filter

When it comes to furnace problems, a grungy, clogged air filter is frequently the top offender.

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 more than it should.
  • Your furnace could stop working prematurely because a dirty filter causes it to work harder.
  • Your furnace can lose power if an overly dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

Depending on what model of furnace you have, your air filter is located inside the blower compartment of your furnace, an attached filter case or wall-mounted return air grille.

To replace your filter:

  1. Turn off your furnace.
  2. Pull out the filter and hold it up to the light. If you can’t see light through it, use a new one.
  3. 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 use a washable filter that will last about 10 years. If you have children or pets, you may have to replace your filter sooner.

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

4. Inspect the Condensate Pan

Also known as drain pans, condensate pans catch water your furnace removes 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 clogged. If it needs to be drained, use a special pan-cleaning tablet you can purchase at home improvement or hardware stores.
  • If your pan has a pump, check the float switch. If the switch is stuck “up” with standing water in the pan, contact us at 778-693-2532, because you will likely need a new pump.

5. Check for Furnace Error Codes

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 us at 778-693-2532 for HVAC service. Your furnace may be giving an error code that requires professional assistance.

6. Clean the Flame Sensor

If your furnace tries to start but turns off without blowing heat, a dirty flame sensor could be responsible. When this takes place, 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 by yourself. Or, one of our heating service experts can do it for you.

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