How Do You Troubleshoot a Heating System?

woman next to thermostat

When your furnace stops working, it could be the thermostat or something as simple as a dirty air filter or an ignition issue. Troubleshooting home heating before calling in a pro will give you a head start on diagnosing the issue and may get the furnace back on track quickly. When experiencing heating issues, check these three areas before you do anything else.

Area 1: Thermostat

How Do I Know If My Thermostat Is Working?

The thermostat controls the system and if it's not working, the heat won't come on.

  • Turn it up and you should hear some kind of sound at the thermostat or the furnace shortly afterward.
  • If the thermostat uses batteries, test their charge or replace them.
  • When neither of these solves the problem, make sure that the furnace door is closed tightly.
  • Check to see if the one for the burner is closed too.

A tripped circuit breaker or fuse will also keep the system from running, and sometimes a malfunction can trigger either of these. Try resetting the circuit breaker or replacing a fuse. If this solves the problem, but the breaker continues to trip or the fuse blows, ask an HVAC contractor to inspect the heating system.

Area 2: Dirty Air Filters

Furnaces have a safety switch inside them that shuts it off when the burner or heat exchanger gets too hot, which is often caused by an overly dirty air filter.

  • Replacing it may be all you need to do for troubleshooting home heating.
  • Checking it monthly and changing it when dirty will lower energy consumption and lengthen the life of your system.

Area 3: Ignition Problems

Sometimes problems crop up with either electronic ignitors or pilot lights.

How Do You Test an Electronic Igniter?

  • Turn off the gas valve inside the furnace and wait five minutes.
  • When you turn it back on, the ignitor should start the furnace.
  • If not, it may need to be replaced. These are electronic devices that wear out over time.

How to Check Your Pilot Light

  • If yours has a standing pilot, turn the gas off and check it and the nearby thermocouple for soot or dirt.
  • Clean and follow the manufacturer's instructions for relighting.

If you'd like more information about troubleshooting home heating, contact Avery Heating & Air Conditioning. We proudly serve homeowners in Boone, Marion, Blowing Rock, and surrounding areas since 1971.

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