Going cold turkey might seem like a pretty good idea if you're trying to kick a bad habit. On the other hand, having your heating system suddenly shut down in the middle of a cold night has substantially fewer benefits. While some heating issues may come with many early warning signs and symptoms, others can appear out of the blue and leave you shivering.
If your furnace just shut down with no warning, don't panic! You can take a few steps to investigate the problem yourself and determine if you need to contact a professional to kick your furnace back into action.
Step 1: Check Your Thermostat
Your furnace can't decide by itself when your home requires heat. Instead, your furnace relies on a signal from your thermostat. Your thermostat monitors the surrounding air temperature, compares it to your set point, and turns the furnace on when the temperature falls too low. If your thermostat stops sending control signals, your furnace won't turn on.
Check the usual suspects on your thermostat if your furnace shut off and won't turn back on. Is the thermostat in heating mode? Is your set point higher than the ambient temperature? If you have multi-zone heating, check each thermostat. If your furnace turns on for other zones, you probably have a faulty thermostat.
Step 2: Check for Power
Even gas furnaces require electricity to run. Modern furnaces need electricity to run components such as the igniter and draft inducer motor, as well as the electronics on the control board. If your furnace shuts off suddenly, a power interruption is one possible culprit. Confirm that the furnace's switch is on, then check and, if necessary, reset the breaker for the furnace circuit.
Older breakers can sometimes trip erroneously, but they don't ignore repeated breaker problems. If your furnace continuously trips its breaker, stop using your heating system and contact a professional HVAC contractor. Frequent trips may indicate a wiring problem or an issue with an electrical component in the furnace, such as the draft inducer motor.
Step 3: Check for Error Codes
Finally, you can check your furnace's control board for error codes. You may need to consult your owner's manual to find where your particular model displays these codes. In most cases, your furnace will tell you something is wrong by blinking a small LED or displaying a two-digit code on a small screen. Your manual will tell you how to interpret these codes.
While you shouldn't usually try to diagnose a problem yourself, the presence of a code can confirm that something is wrong with your furnace. Once you know the furnace has a stored code, switch it off, and stop using your heating until help arrives. Turning the furnace off will stop it from repeatedly trying and failing to ignite, saving on wear and tear and potentially avoiding more damage.
Contact a local heating service to learn more.
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