Night Chills: What to Do When Your Furnace Stops Cold

There are times when a furnace slowly deteriorates, when it just doesn’t heat as well as it used to.

And then there are times when it just stops cold, too often on one of the coldest nights of winter. If this happens to you, what should you do? First off, don’t panic. There are a few things to quickly check to be sure it isn’t something simple. Often it is. Rather than immediately calling for an emergency repair service, take a few minutes to go through this checklist. You may need urgent repairs. You may need a new furnace. Or you may only need to throw a switch. Let’s take the simple and cheapest actions first.

The Furnace Doesn’t Turn On or Only Blows Cold Air

  • Check your thermostat. Make sure it is set to “Heat” and the thermostat is set high enough to call for heat. This may seem obvious, yet it’s surprisingly often overlooked. Think of how embarrassing it is to call in a repairman only to have him come over and turn on the thermostat, not to mention the service call fee.
  • If the furnace runs constantly, but only blows cold air, check to be sure the fan is set to “Auto”
  • If the thermostat is set properly, check to be sure the power is on and reaching the furnace. Check the circuit breaker to see if it’s in the “Off” position, and if it is, throw it to “On.” Also check the power switch connected to the furnace to be sure it’s in the “On” position.

All of That Checks, but the Furnace Still Doesn’t Work

  • Check your fuel source. If you use propane or oil, make sure the tank isn’t empty. If you use gas, check to make sure your gas supplier hasn’t turned off your gas and put a lock on the meter.
  • If you had to turn the circuit breaker on, does it flip back to off when you turn up the thermostat? If it does, now you need to call for a repair. There’s an electrical system problem leading to or in your furnace.

If all of the above checks out and the furnace still doesn’t work, calling Engelsma Heating and Cooling for repair service is in order. But there may be trouble signs you can spot before a furnace gives out entirely.

Is Your Furnace Running Ok but Your Family is Feeling Lousy?

Furnaces can develop cracks in the heat exchanger as they age, leaking carbon monoxide into the home. Signs may include frequent headaches, a burning feeling in the eyes or nose, even nausea and disorientation. If you develop these systems, turn off the furnace, open the windows and call for a repair. Carbon monoxide is deadly.

Is Your Burner Flame Yellow?

It should be blue. A yellow or flickering flame could be a sign that inefficient burning is creating carbon monoxide. Other signs include streaks of soot around your furnace, no updraft in your chimney, excessive moisture on windows and other cold surfaces, and excessive rusting on flue pipes.

Is Your Furnace Getting Noisy?

If you’re hearing strange noises from your basement such as banging, popping, rattling or squealing, you don’t have ghosts. What you may have is an old furnace nearing its end. If the furnace seems to run constantly, or if it turns on and off frequently, you could have a problem with temperature sensors.

If you do run into any issues that you can’t resolve quickly, or better yet, you’d like a seasonal inspection of your heating before you get into the heart of winter, Give Engelsma a call and we’ll inspect your furnace and be sure it’s running in great shape.

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