furnace repair

Lodi is Getting Cold, but My Furnace Wont Turn On

Figuring out a furnace-related problem might feel like an intimidating chore when your heat won’t start. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

There are several time-saving, low-cost fixes you can do by yourself to skip 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 calling an HVAC professional.

If you find you need help from an expert and live in Lodi, Tokay Heating and Air Conditioning can assist you. We repair most types of heating systems.

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

While you’re in touch with us, think over an annual furnace maintenance plan from Tokay Heating and Air Conditioning that may help you avoid repairs in the future. We can tell you how regularly your furnace should be checked by one of our NATE-certified experts.

Follow our easy guide below to start troubleshooting your furnace. Most of these steps don’t require mechanical abilities.

Steps for Furnace Troubleshooting

Check the Thermostat

To begin, make sure your thermostat is signaling your furnace to start.

If you have a digital thermostat:

  • Replace 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” instead of “off” or “cool.”
  • Ensure the program is set to 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 cause the furnace to turn on if thermostat programming is causing trouble.
  • Increase the temperature setting to 5 degrees warmer than the room temperature.
Digital Thermostat

If your furnace hasn’t started within a couple minutes, make sure it has power by toggling the fan switch from “auto” to “on.” If the fan doesn’t start, your furnace could be without power.

If you have a smart thermostat—like one made by Nest, Ecobee, Lux, Honeywell or Bosch—troubleshooting is very model-specific. Refer to the manufacturer’s website for help. If you still can’t get your Wi-Fi thermostat to work, contact us for assistance.

Lennox Smart Thermostat

Examine Breakers and Switches

Next, you will need to check if your breaker and furnace switch are on.

  • Find 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.
  • Find 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 contact a professional from Tokay Heating and Air Conditioning at 209-257-3156 right away.

It doesn’t matter how old your furnace is or what brand it is, it has at least one standard wall switch located on or close to it.

  • Make sure the switch is flipped up in the “on” position. If it was turned off, expect your furnace to 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.)

Replace Your Furnace’s Air Filter

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

If your filter is too dirty:

  • Your furnace won’t stay on, or it could overheat from reduced airflow.
  • Your energy bills could be higher because your furnace is turning on too often.
  • Your furnace could break down too soon because a dirty filter causes it to overwork.
  • Your furnace can lose power if an excessively dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

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

Replacing a furnace filter

To replace your filter:

  • Turn off your furnace.
  • Pull out the filter and tilt it toward the light. If you can’t see light through it, replace it.
  • 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 get a washable filter that will last about 10 years. If you have children or pets, you may have to put in a new filter more frequently.

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

Examine the Condensate Pan

Otherwise known as drain pans, condensate pans hold water your furnace draws 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 full. If it needs to be drained, use a special pan-cleaning tablet you can buy at home improvement or hardware stores.
  • If your pan has a pump, inspect the float switch. If the switch is stuck “up” with water in the pan, contact Tokay Heating and Air Conditioning at 209-257-3156, because you will possibly need a new pump.

Peek Inside Your Furnace

If malfunctions continue, look inside your furnace’s plastic window to verify the status of the blower motor. Depending on the model, the light could also be mounted on the outside of your furnace.

If you see anything other than a steady, colored light or blinking green light, call Tokay Heating and Air Conditioning at 209-257-3156. Your furnace may be giving an error code that requires professional assistance.

Clean the Flame Sensor

If your furnace tries to start but switches off without putting out heat, a dirty flame sensor could be to blame. When this occurs, your furnace will try to turn on three times before a safety feature shuts it down for about an hour.

If you feel comfortable with opening up your furnace, cleaning your flame sensor is something you can do on your own. Or, one of our HVAC professionals at Tokay Heating and Air Conditioning can do it for you.

If you want to clean the sensor yourself, you’ll need:

  • A 1/4” hex screwdriver or wrench
  • Piece of light grit sandpaper, steel wool or emery cloth
  • A dry, clean paper towel

Next:

  • Shut off the furnace’s power by using its wall switch or breaker. If your gas valve is not electric, you will need to shut off the gas as well.
  • Remove the furnace’s front panel and track the wire to the flame sensor.
  • Unscrew the rod and use your sandpaper, steel wool or emery cloth to gently rub the metal rod.
  • Wipe off the rod with a paper towel.
  • Remount the sensor.
  • Replace the furnace doors.
  • Turn the furnace’s power back on. It may proceed through a set of checks before continuing usual operation. If your furnace doesn’t turn on, the sensor may need to be replaced or something else may be wrong. If this happens, contact Tokay Heating and Air Conditioning at 209-257-3156 for assistance.

Relight the Pilot Light

If you are using an older furnace, the pilot light could be extinguished. To relight it, find the instructions on a label on your furnace, or follow these steps.

  • Find the switch on the bottom of your furnace labeled “pilot,” “on” and “off.”
  • Turn the switch to the “off” position.
  • Wait at least five minutes to avoid possibly starting a fire.
  • Turn the knob to “pilot.”
  • Push the “reset” button as you bring the flame of a long lighter to the pilot light opening.
  • Release the “reset” button once the pilot light is lit.

If you have followed the instructions twice and the pilot light still won’t light or stay lit, get in touch with Tokay Heating and Air Conditioning at 209-257-3156.

Check Your Fuel Source

Try turning on another gas appliance. If it doesn’t work, your natural gas service could be turned off, or you could be out of propane.

Tokay Heating and Air Conditioning Can Help with Furnace Problems

Followed our troubleshooting guide but your furnace still won’t work?

Call us today at 209-257-3156 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out and figure out the problem.

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