Furnace Repair Checklist
1. Inspect the Thermostat
First, make certain that your thermostat is signaling your heat to start.
- Swap out the batteries if the screen is empty. If the digital screen is messed up, the thermostat may need to be changed.
- Make certain that the button is on “heat” instead of “off” or “cool.”
- Make certain the program is showing the right day and time and is scheduled to “run.” If you’re having a hard time turning off the program, regulate the temperature by using the up/down arrows and holding the “hold” button. This will cause the furnace to turn on if thermostat is causing a problem.
- Set the temperature setting to 5 degrees above the room temperature.
If your furnace hasn’t turned on within a few minutes, make sure it has electricity by toggling the fan switch from “auto” to “on.” If the fan doesn’t operate, your heating system might not have power.
If you have a smart thermostat—for example one manufactured by Nest, Ecobee, Lux, Honeywell or Bosch—troubleshooting is very model-specific. Refer to the manufacturer’s website for support. If you’re still unable to get your Wi-Fi thermostat to work, reach us at 503-213-4433 for heating and cooling service.
2. Check Breakers and Switches
Next, verify your breaker and furnace switch are on.
- Find your main electrical panel. If you don’t know where it is, search for a gray metal box in your basement, garage or closet.
- Make certain that your hands and feet are dry in advance of using the panel or breakers.
- Look for the breaker labeled “furnace” or “heat,” and ensure it’s turned “on.” If the breaker has tripped, it will be in the middle or “off” spot.
- With one hand, firmly switch the breaker to the “on” position. If the breaker instantly trips and pops back to “off,” don't try to reset it and get in touch with a professional from Three Rivers Heating & Cooling at 503-213-4433 quickly.
Regardless of your furnace’s age or brand, it has at minimum one regular wall switch situated on or close to it.
- Make certain the switch is flipped up in the “on” placement. If it was turned off, anticipate your furnace could take up to five minutes to start. (If you’re unsure where to find your furnace, take a look at your basement, garage or utility closet. It can also be in a crawl space or attic.)
3. Get a New Air Filter
When it comes to furnace breakdowns, a grungy, full air filter is often the top culprit.
If your filter is too dusty:
- Your heat won’t stay on, or it could get too hot from limited airflow.
- Your utility costs may go up because your heating system is working more often.
- Your heating system could stop working sooner than it should due to the fact a dusty filter causes it to work overtime.
- Your heater may be disconnected from power if an extremely dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.
Based on what make of furnace you use, your air filter is located within the blower compartment of your furnace, an attached filter case or wall-mounted return air grille.
To put in a new filter:
- Turn off your heating system.
- Take out the filter and angle it toward the light. If you can’t see light through it, use a new one.
- Insert the new filter with the arrow pointing toward the furnace to keep damage from happening.
Flat filters need to be replaced once a month, while pleated filters should last about three months. If you have children or pets, you may have to change your filter more frequently.
To make the process smoother down the line, draw with a permanent marker on your heating system housing or ductwork to list the airflow direction and filter size.
4. Check the Condensate Pan
Otherwise known as drain pans, condensate pans capture liquid your furnace removes from the air.
If water is dripping from within your heater or its pan is overflowing, use these steps.
- If your pan has a drain (look for a PVC pipe), double-check that it isn’t clogged. If it requires draining, get a special pan-cleaning tablet you can buy at home improvement or hardware retailers.
- If your pan uses a pump, check the float switch. If the button is jammed “up” with water in the pan, call us at 503-213-4433, because you will probably need a new pump.
5. Check for Furnace Error Codes
If failures continue, look within your heating system’s plastic window to check the blower motor’s status. Depending on the brand, the light may also be fixed on the surface of your heater.
If you see anything other than a steady, colored light or flickering green light, contact us at 503-213-4433 for HVAC service. Your heater may be communicating an error code that is calling for professional assistance.
6. Clean the Flame Sensor
If your furnace attempts to run but shuts off without blowing warm air, a dusty flame sensor can be at fault. When this occurs, your heating system will make an attempt to start three times before a safety mechanism powers it down for about an hour.
If you feel confident with taking the panels off your furnace, brushing off your flame sensor is work you are able to do personally. Or, one of our heating service experts is able to complete it for you.
If you are fine with cleaning the sensor yourself, you need:
- A 1/4” hex screwdriver or wrench
- Portion of light grit sandpaper, steel wool or emery cloth
- An unused paper towel
As the next step:
- Turn off the heater’s power with its wall switch or breaker. If you don’t have an electric gas valve, you have to switch off the gas along with it.
- Remove the heating system’s front panel and follow the wire to the flame sensor.
- Unscrew the rod and use your sandpaper, steel wool or emery cloth to lightly scrub the metal rod.
- Clear the rod with a paper towel.
- Put the sensor back in.
- Replace the furnace doors.
- Turn the furnace’s power back on. It may proceed through a set of examinations before resuming regular operation. If your heating system doesn’t turn on, the sensor could require replacement or something else might be causing a problem. If this occurs, contact us at 503-213-4433 for heating and cooling repair assistance.
7. Reignite the Pilot Light
If you have an aging heating system, the pilot light could be out. To light it, find the steps on a sheet on your heating system, or follow these guidelines.
- Locate the toggle below your heater that says “pilot,” “on” and “off.”
- Turn the switch to the “off” position.
- Don’t do anything for at least five minutes to avoid creating a fire.
- Push the dial to “pilot.”
- Press the “reset” button as you push the flame of a long lighter to the pilot light opening.
- Release the “reset” switch once the pilot light is lit.
If you have used the guide twice and the pilot light still won’t light or remain lit, get in touch with us at 503-213-4433 for furnace service.
Inspect Your Energy Source
Try switching on an additional gas appliance. If it doesn’t operate, your natural gas service may be switched off, or you may have run out of propane.