furnace repair

Bakersfield is Getting Cold, but My Furnace Wont Turn On

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

There are a couple of fast, reasonable fixes you can do by yourself to skip 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 getting in touch with an HVAC professional.

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

If you’re ready for a new heating system, we also do furnace replacement in Bakersfield.

While you’re in touch with us, consider a routine furnace maintenance plan from Hillcrest Air Conditioning & Plumbing that could help you avoid breakdowns in the future. We can tell you how regularly your furnace should be examined by one of our NATE-certified experts.

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

Steps for Furnace Troubleshooting

Check the Thermostat

To start, make sure your thermostat is signaling 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” rather than “off” or “cool.”
  • Ensure the program is showing the appropriate day and time and is set to “run.” If you’re having trouble overriding the program, set the temperature by using the up/down arrows and press the “hold” button. This will cause the furnace to turn on if thermostat programming is causing a problem.
  • Increase the temperature setting to 5 degrees warmer than the room temperature.
Digital Thermostat

If your furnace hasn’t kicked 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 might not have power.

If you have a smart thermostat—like one made by Nest, Ecobee, Lux, Honeywell or Bosch—troubleshooting is very model-specific. Check 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.

  • Find your house’s main electrical panel. If you aren’t sure where it is, look 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.
  • Find 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 Hillcrest Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 661-437-3499 right away.

No matter your furnace’s age or brand, it has at least one standard wall switch located on or near 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 start. (If you don’t know where to find your furnace, take a look at 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 breakdowns, a filthy, clogged air filter is regularly the top culprit.

If your filter is too dirty:

  • Your furnace won’t keep heating your home, or it could overheat from restricted airflow.
  • Your energy bills could go up because your furnace is turning on more often.
  • Your furnace could fail prematurely because a dirty filter causes it to overwork.
  • Your furnace can be cut off from power if an extremely dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

Depending on what make of furnace you use, 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.
  • Pull out the filter and angle it toward the light. If you can’t see light through it, replace it.
  • Put in the new filter with the arrow pointing toward the furnace to avoid damage.

Flat filters should be replaced monthly, while pleated filters should last about three months. You can also use a washable filter that will last about 10 years. If you have children or pets, you may have to replace your filter more frequently.

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

Examine the Condensate Pan

Otherwise known as drain pans, condensate pans capture water your furnace draws from the air.

If water is seeping 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 isn’t full. If it needs to be drained, use a special pan-cleaning tablet you can purchase at home improvement or hardware stores.
  • If your pan uses a pump, inspect the float switch. If the switch is stuck “up” with standing water in the pan, contact Hillcrest Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 661-437-3499, because you will probably need a new pump.

Peek Inside Your Furnace

If malfunctions keep on happening, take a look inside your furnace’s plastic window to check the status of the blower motor. Depending on the model, the light could also be fixed on the outside of your furnace.

If you see anything other than a steady, colored light or blinking green light, call Hillcrest Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 661-437-3499. 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 shuts off without distributing heat, a dirty flame sensor could be at fault. When this happens, your furnace will try to start three times before a safety feature turns it off 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 Hillcrest Air Conditioning & Plumbing 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 trace the wire to the flame sensor.
  • Unscrew the rod and use your sandpaper, steel wool or emery cloth to lightly 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 run through a set of checks before continuing usual operation. If your furnace doesn’t start, the sensor may need to be replaced or something else may be wrong. If this happens, call Hillcrest Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 661-437-3499 for assistance.

Relight the Pilot Light

If you own an older furnace, the pilot light could be extinguished. To relight it, find the instructions on a label on your furnace, or follow these steps.

  • Locate 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 creating a fire.
  • Turn the knob to “pilot.”
  • Hold down 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, get in touch with Hillcrest Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 661-437-3499.

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.

Hillcrest Air Conditioning & Plumbing Can Help with Furnace Problems

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

Call us today at 661-437-3499 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out and figure out the problem.

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