My Furnace Won’t Turn On: Why So Many Florin Homeowners Are Replacing Their HVAC Systems
I can almost always guess how old a couple’s kids are. If parents are red-eyed and yawning constantly, chances are they’ve got an infant. If they’re nervous and checking their phones non-stop, they might just have a teenager, one starting to dabble in driving or, even worse, dating. In some ways, the towns I visit as an HVAC technician are just as easy to figure out.
Based on the type of furnace problems folks are having, I can usually guess when their town was built, or when it went through a big growth spurt. For example, I recently began to suspect many of the houses in Florin were built around the year 2000. I got this hunch because of a big uptick in calls for furnaces that wouldn’t turn on. Now, the lifespan of most furnaces is about 15 years. I looked it up, and, as it turns out, Florin’s population has almost doubled since the year 2000.
If you have one of those houses that was built 15 years ago and is due for a furnace replacement, or, heck, even if you have one of the historic homes that’s been around for decades, it’s important to realize that when a furnace won’t start, it’s often caused by the failure of a complex component within, like a sensor or motor, which can hint that the end of a furnace’s life is near.
Keep Calm and Check for Quick Fixes
A furnace’s failure to turn on can have many different causes, all of which become more common as the unit approaches its 15th birthday. However, there are a few basic questions you should ask yourself before preparing for the worst:
- Is the thermostat set to the correct temperature?
- Is the thermostat set to “heat,” not “fan” or “cool”?
- Is there a blown circuit breaker preventing the furnace from getting electricity?
- Is the pilot light lit? If not, are you able to light it by striking a match?
- Is the gas valve on your furnace fully opened? Or, if you have an oil or propane furnace, is there still fuel remaining?
These questions sound simple and, to be honest, they are, but you’d be surprised how often busy homeowners don’t have time to catch the small stuff. If you’ve gone over all those issues, and your furnace still won’t turn on, you should start wondering if it’s time to shop for a new one. This is especially true if you’re one of the 20,000 people who has moved to Florin in the past 15 years, buying one of the new houses built to accommodate the growth.
One last note, though, is that furnaces have condensation pans for catching excess water. If these pans get too full, the furnace won’t turn on. If that’s the issue, you’re still likely going to have to call a professional to find out why water isn’t draining, but chances are that the issue won’t be as severe as it could have been.
What’s Wrong? Well, It’s Complicated
If addressing the simple issues above doesn’t fix it, chances are decent that your furnace is going to need to be replaced, or at least extensively worked on by a trained HVAC technician. When a furnace approaches the end of its lifespan, its components begin to fail. Any number of parts could actually be the culprit for a furnace that won’t turn on, including:
- Electrical components: Frayed wires are often to blame in older furnaces for a failure to ignite. Parts of the system such as safety blowers and thermostats may require electricity to run, and if they can’t get it because of damage, you won’t be able to get any heat.
- The thermocouple: One of the most common reasons a furnace won’t turn on is that the thermocouple has died. Almost all units have this piece, which is a sensor used to measure temperature. It’s made of two wire legs comprised of different metals, one of which is almost always copper, and its job is to keep the gas controller from turning on the burners when the pilot isn’t lit. So, if the thermocouple is broken, there’s nothing to let your furnace know that the pilot light is lit, and it won’t generate heat.
- The blower motor: This is the piece of your furnace that powers the fans that distribute air throughout the unit and eventually into your home. If the blower goes down, there’s no cold air being pulled in, so there’s also nothing for it to heat up.
If any of these components have gone out, it’s best to call a trained HVAC professional as soon as you can, unless, of course, you don’t mind going the rest of the winter without heat. In a place like Florin, however, this is far from ideal, because the average daily temperature in January is somewhere in the 40s. So if any one of those three parts goes down, you’re likely going to need serious work.
The good news is that even if you have to replace your furnace, your overall HVAC situation is about to get much better. Another thing that happens toward the end of a furnace’s life is that as it wears down, it needs to work harder and burn more electricity or fuel to generate heat. This can slowly raise your heating bills, which you may not have even noticed. By working with a trained HVAC professional to find a perfect furnace option for your home, you may be able to sharply drop your monthly utility bill. There’s also been quite a bit of new heating and cooling technology come to market in the 15 years or so since Florin underwent all that growth. Instead of looking at this as a costly problem, see it as a chance to invest in a smart thermostat or solar heating. It’s a chance to add some new excitement to a home that now feels comfortable and lived in.
Don’t let a furnace that won’t turn on leave you frustrated and cold this winter. Contact the trained HVAC professionals at Bell Brothers today to learn more about your options.