Surviving frigid temperatures during the winter is nearly impossible without a reliable house heater. Without giving it much thought, many Canadians turn on their furnaces in the fall and expect it to run without a glitch. Realizing that you’re not getting any heat in your home when temperatures drop will send any homeowner into a frenzy. You might be scrambling for alternative heating methods while you desperately try to get a hold of an HVAC technician to come to your home as quickly as possible. Trying to determine what the problem is can be stressful if you don’t know what to look for. But whatever the problem is, you need to get to the root of the matter quickly to get your home warm again as soon as possible.

As seasoned HVAC specialists, we’ve received many calls from homeowners asking ‘why won’t my furnace turn on?’ So we’ve provided a list of the reasons why your furnace may not be heating.

Needs Maintenance

If your furnace won’t turn on, you may be surprised to learn that the solution is a little cleaning. This is the leading cause of furnace problems during the winter. Many people are under the impression that their furnace doesn’t need any upkeep for it to operate at its best.

Like any other appliance in your home, your furnace needs routine maintenance for it to continue to perform well. Because it’s tucked away in your home, it’s often forgotten. In many cases, dirt buildup is a contributing factor to furnace problems. If your motor is dirty, your furnace may malfunction. This is because the heat exchanger will only work if there is an adequate amount of cool air flowing through it. This cool air prevents the furnace from overheating. Dirt in your motor can interfere with this exchange and cause your system to give out.

Dirty air filters also reduce airflow and compound the issues you may be experiencing with your furnace. You should change your filter every 90 days or as needed. Dirt on your flame sensor will prevent your furnace from being able to light the burners and cause your system to shut off as soon as you turn it on. Dirt buildup on your burners can also create problems for your furnace. While it may still work, you won’t be getting the best use out of it. Hiring an HVAC technician to clean your furnace once a year can help you keep furnace problems at bay.

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Too Much Gas

Companies that manufacture furnaces design each model specifically to burn a certain amount of gas. During the installation process, the furnace should be calibrated to make sure it is set up correctly.

If this is not done, your furnace may stop working when you least expect it. One of the common errors during installation (if your furnace insulation is not done by a professional) is being improperly calibrated, which will lead to your furnace burning too much gas.

Over time one of two things may occur: your furnace will consume more gas than needed and result in higher utility bills during the winter, or your furnace may overheat and force it to default to a limit switch.

When your furnace underperforms, it will be unable to keep up with your heating needs, particularly on very cold days.

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Dead Blower Capacitor

The blower capacitor on your furnace looks like a huge battery and is what helps start your furnace based on the temperature setting on your thermostat. In other words, when the temperature of the room falls below the set temperature, the capacitor is triggered and begins to blow warm air into your room to bring up the temperature.

The blower capacitor only operates within a certain tolerance range. It works in a similar way as a battery and contains stored energy that the blower uses to pump hot air through the ducts throughout your home.

Sometimes, you may hear a clicking sound coming from your capacitor just before it fails. Tend to this as soon as you notice signs that the blower capacitor is in distress. If it breaks down completely, it will be an expensive part to repair. And your furnace won’t turn on if the dead blower capacitor is dead.

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Low Refrigerant Levels

If you are heating your home with a heat pump, there’s a possibility that your refrigerant level may drop too low. If this occurs, you may notice that the heat strips will engage more frequently than you would prefer, causing your utility bills to skyrocket. You’ll end up spending significantly more money heating up your home than necessary.

If you notice that the heat strips are turning on more frequently, increasing your refrigerant charge should be the first thing you try. This is something you should do early on because if the refrigerant levels remain low for a long period of time, this may lead to your compressor overheating and breaking down. It costs less to recharge the refrigerant and repair any leaks than it does to replace your compressor.

Dead Heat Pump

The heat pump failing to work could be due to a variety of reasons. Whatever the cause, you won’t get any function out of your furnace if the heat pump is dead. To find out what the problem is, you will need to examine the components that make up the heat pump. If the heat pump is malfunctioning, your blower will not work, which translates to a furnace that cannot heat your home.

It’s imperative that you have a professional determine what the faulty parts are and have them replaced. Routine maintenance and regular inspection can help detect problems with your heat pump before they turn into bigger problems. By conducting regular maintenance, you can save yourself from having to conduct costly repairs.

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Cracked Heat Exchanger

A crack in your heat exchanger can become problematic. It may not cause problems immediately, but over time the crack can diminish the efficiency of your furnace. Heat exchangers contain carbon monoxide so a crack will cause carbon monoxide to leak out into your indoor air and could make you sick. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a danger to your health and can even be fatal so it’s important that you have any crack tended to as soon as possible.

Many times, a cracked heat exchanger is a symptom of a deeper issue that can interfere with the performance of your furnace and ultimately cause it to fail.

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Bad Inducer Draft Motor

This component is also known as a draft inducer. Its function is to help the heat exchanger rid itself of excess gas from a previous cycle and eliminate the gases produced during the combustion process. The inducer motor will crash eventually if it continues to work overtime. Dirt can cause the safety switches to shut down the furnace. Regular tune-ups can help keep the draft motor working well.

At some point, you will need to replace your draft inducer. When this time comes, the technician will test how well your burners are working and whether your heat exchanger is performing well. This can be determined by taking samples from the flue gas.

Improper Ductwork Design

Your furnace malfunctioning may have nothing to do with your actual furnace.

Sometimes, the problem is with the ductwork.

How ductwork is designed and installed is a complex task that needs to be done diligently and professionally by experts who are qualified and experienced in installing HVAC systems.

The sad truth is that inexperienced HVAC contractors, or those of ill repute, sometimes do subpar work.

And instead of doing things correctly, they may resort to cutting corners when installing ducts.

This can lead to problems with your furnace.

If there are minor issues with the ductwork, you may experience reduced efficiency with your furnace, but if they are major errors in ductwork, your home won’t receive the proper airflow.

Your furnace will not be able to achieve a comfortable temperature in your home and will work overtime to try to make up for the deficit, which may lead to your furnace overheating and eventually failing.

Call the Pros 

A furnace not heating in the winter is a big problem. The key to maintaining an efficient furnace is hiring experienced HVAC specialists to perform regular maintenance that will keep your furnace in tiptop shape.

Is your house heater not working? Call the pros! Our team at ThermEnergy is happy to come to your aid and troubleshoot any issues you have with your furnace. The best way to minimize furnace trouble is to have your system serviced annually. With the best HVAC team in the city on your side, you’ll be able to stay one step ahead of furnace trouble and have the coziest winters possible.

Reach out to us today for more information about furnace care and repairs.