furnace repair

Kearney is Getting Cold, but My Furnace Wont Turn On

Fixing your furnace might feel like a daunting chore when your heat won’t start. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

There are several time-saving, inexpensive fixes you can do by yourself 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 calling an HVAC professional.

If you find you need help from a professional and live in Kearney, Thurston Heating & Air Conditioning can help you. We service most brands of heating systems.

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

While you’re in touch with us, think about an annual furnace maintenance plan from Thurston Heating & Air Conditioning that could help you avoid repairs in the future. We can tell you how frequently your furnace should be checked by one of our NATE-certified specialists.

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

Steps for Furnace Troubleshooting

Check the Thermostat

To start, make sure your thermostat is instructing your furnace to ignite.

If you have a digital thermostat:

  • Swap out 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 showing the correct 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 force 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 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 run, 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. Take a look at 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.

  • Locate your house’s main electrical panel. If you don’t know 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.
  • Locate 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,” leave it alone and call a professional from Thurston Heating & Air Conditioning at 308-624-3485 right away.

Regardless of your furnace’s age or brand, 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, it could take your furnace 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 often the top culprit.

If your filter is too dirty:

  • Your furnace won’t stay on, or it could overheat from reduced airflow.
  • Your energy bills could go up because your furnace is turning on more than it should.
  • Your furnace could break down prematurely because a dirty filter causes it to work harder.
  • Your furnace can be cut off from power if an excessively dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

Depending on what type of furnace you own, your air filter is located 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.
  • Take out the filter and angle it toward the light. If you can’t see light through it, use a new one.
  • Install the new filter with the arrow pointing toward the furnace to avoid damage.

Flat filters should be replaced every 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 change your filter more often.

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

Examine the Condensate Pan

Also known as drain pans, condensate pans catch water your furnace removes from the air.

If water is leaking 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’s clear. If it needs to be drained, use a special pan-cleaning tablet you can buy at home improvement or hardware stores.
  • If your pan contains a pump, inspect the float switch. If the switch is stuck “up” with liquid in the pan, contact Thurston Heating & Air Conditioning at 308-624-3485, because you will likely need a new pump.

Peek Inside Your Furnace

If malfunctions persist, peek inside your furnace’s plastic window to confirm 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 else besides a steady, colored light or blinking green light, call Thurston Heating & Air Conditioning at 308-624-3485. Your furnace may be communicating an error code that is calling for professional help.

Clean the Flame Sensor

If your furnace tries to start but turns off without distributing heat, a dirty flame sensor could be responsible. When this occurs, your furnace will try to start three times before a safety feature powers it down 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 HVAC specialists at Thurston Heating & 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:

  • Turn 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 carefully 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 could proceed through a series of checks before proceeding with normal operation. If your furnace doesn’t turn on, the sensor may need to be replaced or something else may be wrong. If this happens, call Thurston Heating & Air Conditioning at 308-624-3485 for assistance.

Relight the Pilot Light

If you have an older furnace, the pilot light could be turned off. 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 sparking 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, contact Thurston Heating & Air Conditioning at 308-624-3485.

Check Your Fuel Source

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

Thurston Heating & Air Conditioning Can Help with Furnace Problems

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

Call us today at 308-624-3485 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out and pinpoint the problem.

*Required fields