Is Your Furnace Not Working Properly: Why it May Not Be Turning On or Why It’s Blowing Cold Air

It’s that time of year. The temperature drops, it can get cold and downright blustery, and you seek the warmth of your home to shield you from the elements. What happens though if your furnace fails to work as it should? How can you possibly keep your home warm if the furnace isn’t turning on or is blowing cold air? Fortunately, whether the issue is cold air coming out of your furnace, the furnace not turning on or the furnace won’t start for that matter, the fix is generally an easy one.

The primary reason why there’s an issue with your furnace and as a result it seems to blowing cold air is due to a clogged or dirty air filter. Filters are so essential to your HVAC unit. When that filter gets dirty to the point of being clogged, when no air can efficiently get through, then the furnace will react accordingly. And this usually means that it will not turn on or that yes, it might start blowing cold air. The way to rectify this furnace issue is quite easy. You can clean the filter if it is still cleanable, or you might be better off replacing that filter with a brand new one. Generally, most furnace filters can be purchased at big box stores.

That said, there could be other issues making it so that the furnace won’t turn on or won’t start properly. Keep reading to find out more!

5 Reasons Your Furnace Isn’t Working as It Should

  1. If after changing your filter, there is still the problem of cold air (or no air) coming out of the furnace, then it could be the pilot light. Have you checked your pilot light lately? Older Furnaces have a standing flame pilot light, and it may have gone out—and this can happen for any number of reasons.  If you don’t see a lit pilot light, then this is likely why your furnace may be malfunctioning.  You will have to follow the instructions in order to relight that pilot. If you are unsure and don’t want to attempt this yourself, then it may make sense to call an HVAC professional to help in this situation. However, most newer furnaces do not incorporate pilot lights and instead use a spark igniter or hot surface igniters, which may need to be cleaned to function properly.
  2. Sometimes if a furnace won’t start or shuts down it could be that you have a blocked condensate line. Higher efficiency, condensing-style furnaces, utilize a condensate line where water drains out. If this line gets clogged or blocked, the furnace will almost always shut down. Some of the more common causes of such blockages include debris buildup, ice, and dirt. If you do suspect a blocked or clogged condensate line is causing the problem, it is usually best to call a trained technician to deal with the issue at hand. Also, keep in mind that yearly furnace maintenance can prevent most of these issues. Having an annual maintenance/cleaning done on your system is therefore highly recommended.
  3. Sometimes if the furnace is blowing cold air, this could be a sign that there is not enough gas pressure. In other words, the gas/propane supply into the home is in some way being restricted and the furnace as a result cannot function as it needs to. If this is the case, it is always best to call a professional HVAC company. Dealing with gas/propane line issues on your own is never advised.
  4. One simple reason why the furnace may be blowing cold air has to do with your thermostat setting, and fortunately, this can be a rather simple fix in most cases. There are usually (2) primary settings on your thermostat one controls the general mode and the options are usually (Auto/Heat/Cool) and in the winter you need to ensure that it is set to Auto or Heat for the furnace to function properly.  There is also a fan setting, which is usually set to (ON/AUTO).  Is your fan set to “auto” or is it switched to “on”? If you notice that the thermostat is set to “Auto or Heat” and your fan is in fact set to “on,” this means that the furnace is continuously blowing air—even when not producing any heat. You want to ensure that it is set to auto, and this could potentially take care of your cold air problem.
  5. Have you recently had your ductwork inspected? If not, you could be overlooking damage and/or cracks and holes in the ductwork as a reason for your furnace not functioning properly. Having a routine inspection conducted of your ductwork is so important for the overall health of your system. If the ductwork is in some way damaged, this could in turn spur your HVAC system to work harder than it would otherwise need to. A furnace that works too hard is not one that is running optimally. Duct sealing is one way to help the problem. Again, this may be a job better performed by an experienced HVAC tech.

The Importance of Routine Furnace Checkups

One way to help ensure your furnace operates smoothly and offers maximum climate control within the home is to have yearly checkups performed. As with any major system in your home, over time things happen, wear and tear and just daily use take their toll. Having your furnace cleaned every year and serviced allows it to run at optimal efficiency. Otherwise, what could happen if you neglect your system, is that clogs can occur, cracks in the ductwork will have a negative effect and other minor issues can potentially turn into bigtime problems—expensive problems!

Staying on top of your system and getting a maintenance contract which includes yearly checkups will only benefit your system and ensure that you have a comfortable, temperature-appropriate home. An experienced check knows what to look for and can thus pinpoint any furnace issues early on and rectify the problem immediately.

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