The last occasion on which you want to worry about your furnace not producing any heat is the dead of winter, when the outside is chilly you just want to seek refuge in your own Takoma Park home…only to discover that it’s not much warmer than the outdoors.
This may seem like a total emergency, and the combination of chill and frustration may cause panic to set in. Don’t start fretting too much just yet, though. There are some potentially simple causes and solutions for this problem, such as:
- The thermostat may be set too low or on the wrong setting. Yes, it seems obvious, but sometimes the solution is staring you right in the face. Check that your thermostat is set high enough to call for heat and that it is on HEAT mode.
- A circuit breaker may be tripped or a fuse may be blown. It could be the one dedicated to the thermostat, glow coil igniter or furnace itself. Check the breaker or fuse box in your home and either flip the breaker or replace the fuse. If it continues to trip or blow, get it looked at professionally—there may be a bigger problem going on.
- The thermostat may not be working, so it is either improperly detecting the temperature or improperly reporting it to the furnace, so the heat does not kick on. Either way, it probably needs to be replaced.
- The furnace is not igniting properly. This could mean the pilot light is out on furnaces without electric ignition, the gas valve is closed and can’t ignite or some other ignition malfunction. Check the pilot and gas valves to make sure they are on and working.
If you have checked all these things and the thermostat still is not working, or if you don’t feel comfortable looking into these causes on your own, you are best served by calling a professional repairman to diagnose and fix the furnace.
Often, these big failures are just the symptom of a smaller problem, so in all likelihood you won’t have to replace the furnace or do any major repairs, especially if it has been well-maintained throughout its life.