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How to Troubleshoot your Furnace

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Tips for Troubleshooting Your Heating System

Quality West is happy to provide you with troubleshooting tips that may help you avoid a service call if you only discover a minor issue with your furnace.

If you smell gas or suspect a gas leak, leave the property immediately, and call 911 or Xcel Energy at 800-895-2999.

When a furnace unexpectedly stops working or fails to start, there are some simple procedures you can try before calling professionals. Naturally, do not hesitate to call for service if you feel uncertain about how to proceed or if you suspect danger.

What you should check before calling for service:

  • 1) Check the Thermostat.  Is the thermostat set to HEAT mode? Check to make sure the batteries in the thermostat are working…yes, most thermostats have batteries. If the controls or dial is set to a lower temperature that the thermostat is showing, set the control 5 to 10 degrees higher than the the current indoor temperature displayed. If the thermostat has a timer, see that its settings allow the furnace to be on at the time you are checking it (check AM and PM).  If you suspect the thermostat is the source of the problem, many thermostat operation manuals can be found online.  Honeywell offers terrific customer assistance by phone  (877) 271-8620.
  • 2) Check the furnace filter.  If it hasn’t been replaced or cleaned in a while and appears very dirty, it may be restricting the airflow to the furnace (which can inhibit the normal furnace operation).  Replace or clean the filter, then reset the furnace by turning the power switch off, then back on. It is surprising how often this simple solution will correct a furnace problem. Remember, furnace filters should be changed or cleaned monthly, or per manufacturer recommendation.
  • 3) Check the power switch. If the furnace still won’t power on after checking the thermostat then check the switch governing the power to the furnace. Most resemble ordinary wall switches and can be switched off inadvertently.  You can find the switch in the furnace room on the wall near the furnace. Returning the switch to the “on” position should restart the furnace.
  • 4) Check the breaker box. If the furnace still does not start, go to the electrical service panel(or fuse box) and check whether the circuit breakers or fuses governing the furnace have tripped or blown. Be sure to turn the emergency switch(see step 2) to the off position before resetting breakers or replacing fuses. Tripped circuit breakers are easily spotted. But it is not obvious when the cartridge fuses for furnaces have blown. To be on the safe side, replace fuses that are more than five years old. Or you can try remaining restart procedures and if they fail, then try replacing the fuses.
  • 5) Check the pilot. In older gas furnaces, check to see if the pilot flame has gone out. To see the flame, you usually must remove the access panel. This will also reveal the gas valve, which must be closed and reopened when relighting a pilot flame. If the pilot flame is out, set the thermostat to its lowest setting. Then shut off the gas supply and relight the pilot as specified in the instructions printed on the furnace.
    • If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us to schedule an appointment.
    • Call Xcel Energy at 800-895-2999 or 911 in case of a gas emergency.

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