Furnace Troubleshooting To Prep Your Home For Winter

furnace troubleshooting tips

Furnace Troubleshooting To Prep Your Home For Winter

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE), heating and cooling use about ½ of our annual energy costs. So, as winter approaches, now is the time to inspect your home heating system. To help, there are some common furnace troubleshooting steps any homeowner can complete. If there are any warning signs, then contact a GHA Qualified contractor or other reputable HVAC technician to conduct a more thorough investigation.

Heating System Misconceptions

Prior to completing any furnace troubleshooting, it is worthwhile to understand the basic elements of your heating system. This is an important first step because there are many different types and efficiencies of heating systems used in homes today.

furnace troubleshooting helps avoid heating misconceptions

To begin, do you know if you have a furnace or boiler type of heating system?

Furnaces are heating systems that heat the air in the home and circulate the air through a series of heating ducts. Conversely, boilers heat water and circulate the heated water through a series of pipes to heat your home. Both furnaces and boilers function as the main heating system in your home when the weather gets cold outside. Therefore, it is important to make sure the furnace or boiler in your home is reliable and energy efficient.

Second, it is a common misconception that the bigger the system, the better.

Remember, when it comes to furnaces and boilers (or even air conditioners), bigger typically does not mean better. Like Goldilocks, the best system is the right size.


If the furnace or boiler is too large, you will not only pay more for the furnace installation, but you often won’t enjoy the home comfort or efficiency you expect. This is because over-sized equipment operates in short run times, which means the unit is constantly cycling on and off.

Also, don’t assume your existing heating system is the right size. For example, the original equipment may be over-sized. As a result, it is important to have an HVAC technician complete an in-home evaluation of what size heating system you need. It is not possible to determine the right size system over the phone.

Additionally, there are home improvements, such as installing the proper insulation and air sealing in your home to reduce the need for a larger heating system. GreenHomes America quality contractors provide home energy audits in order to improve the overall comfort of your home. These expert auditors understand how homes operate and provide recommendations that could help significantly downsize your furnace. As a result, you’ll experience lower upfront costs and the home comfort and efficiency you expect.

Furnace Troubleshooting 101

Many homes across our country have an older, inefficient furnace or boiler for their home’s heating system. These systems are unreliable when you need them most and are more expensive to operate and maintain.

Fortunately, there are some simple signs that help tell you when its time to call a GreenHomes America or other qualified heating contractor to inspect your HVAC system. To help homeowners understand if they need a professional to inspect their heating system, here is some general information and furnace troubleshooting tips.

checking the thermostat is a big furnace troubleshooting tip

If you find any issues, then it is wise to call an experienced HVAC technician for further inspection.

1. Ensure the Thermostat Receives Power

Turn your heat on and ensure the thermostat works properly by turning the setting to a higher temperature to make sure the heat comes on. Some systems have a built-in time delay so be sure to wait a few minutes to see if the heat comes on. If the heat does not come on, then check the batteries in your thermostat. Still no heat? Check the circuit breaker and check if the circuit tripped.

2. Check the Blower Fan

Ideally, the blower fan turns on when you turn on the heat in your home. However, if it does not after a few minutes, then check the breaker or the furnace switch. If the breaker tripped, try to reset the breaker and see if the furnace works properly.

If the breaker re-trips or the furnace fan doesn’t operate properly with the breaker in the on position, contact a professional for further inspection.

3. Inspect the Furnace Filter

As part of any furnace troubleshooting efforts, inspect the furnace filter. A dirty filter creates an inefficient heating system. Always check filters every month during the heating/cooling season and replace filters when necessary.

4. Check For Air Leaks

Typically, a furnace connects to the ductwork in your home. Frequently, that distribution ductwork is very leaky and uninsulated. During your furnace troubleshooting work, locate the furnace ductwork (generally near an attic or basement) and feel along the sides. If the ducts are leaky, then you’ll feel hot air escaping. Additionally, if you see black marks, those indicate air leaking. GreenHomes recommends furnace ductwork be sealed where accessible and insulated in all unconditioned spaces or where condensation can occur.

Boilers are connected to a series of pipes that circulate hot water throughout your home to keep your house warm in winter. These heating pipes should be well insulated wherever they are accessible.

GreenHomes America believes home energy projects are more successful when homeowners understand the problems and possible solutions. As a result, we help you learn and understand home comfort issues. Only when you understand the root causes of a problem can you follow a process to resolve them. If you experience any issues during your preliminary furnace troubleshooting exercise, then contact GHA and work with a qualified technician that works to improve your home comfort.

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