Four Furnace Issues You Can Fix Yourself

Not all furnace problems require a repair visit. There are several common issues that you may not know about, but that don't require the assistance of a furnace repair professional. The following guide can help you do a little preliminary troubleshooting so you can possibly fix the problem yourself. If not, you can rest easy knowing that the repair call is necessary and not because you overlooked something obvious.

Issue #1: Check the Thermostat

If your furnace isn't kicking on, chances are that you already verified the thermostat settings. What you may not have checked the level of the thermostat. A wall-mounted thermostat must be perfectly level to work properly. Several things can affect the thermostat so it is no longer level, such as it getting bumped or the house settling. Use a simple bubble level or a digital level to verify that the top horizontal edge is level. If not, you can adjust it on its mounting screws until it is.

Issue #2: Turn It On

In some cases, there is more than one switch to turn on your furnace. Although most homeowners are aware of the switch on the thermostat, there is also often a switch near the furnace itself that needs to be flipped on. It may resemble a standard light switch, so any switches of unknown use could be the one. If the furnace still doesn't fire up, check its switch in the breaker box to make sure it hasn't been tripped.

Issue #3: A Bird in the Works

All furnaces have an exhaust flue. Birds will sometimes find their way into the flue when seeking out warmth. When this happens they may fall down the flue and clog up the works so the exhaust doesn't port out properly. This causes a safety switch to flip the furnace off until the flue is cleared. Shut off the furnace and open the duct that feeds into this exhaust flue. Clear out any debris and then close the duct back up before turning the furnace back on.

Issue #4: Clear the Drains

This is a common occurrence with high-efficiency furnaces located in moist or humid climates. These furnaces drain off moisture via attached drain lines. If mold, algae, or sediments in the water collect inside the lines, they become clogged and the furnace will quit operating. Turn off the furnace and then remove the drain hoses. Rinse them out with solution of bleach diluted in water, which will remove and kill any mold. Once cleared, you can reattach them and try running the furnace again.  

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