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5 Common Reasons Furnaces Fail

Furnace Technician inspecting a furnace.

Canadian winters are harsh, and nothing makes them harder to endure than a broken furnace. Most furnace problems can be avoided through regular maintenance, but that knowledge can offer little comfort when the temperature in your house drops.

It is essential to give your furnace a good once-over each fall, so you can hopefully address any potential problems before they escalate. Here are the five most common reasons furnaces fail.

The Filters Are Dirty Or Clogged

You probably already know that the air filter in your furnace is designed to trap dust, pollen and other particulates, so they don’t circulate throughout your home. However, many people don’t realize that the air filter is also an essential component that keeps your furnace operating efficiently. If your filter gets too dirty or becomes clogged, air can no longer flow freely through your furnace, rendering it inoperable.

To prevent your furnace filters from becoming clogged make sure you check them at least every three months and replace them if they have become clogged or damaged.

The Thermostat Is Broken

The thermostat is not critical to the actual operation of the furnace, but if it begins to malfunction the furnace may stop functioning. If you are unsure what is wrong with your furnace, you should start by testing your thermostat before you begin to look for other faults or damage.

To test your thermostat first ensure its switch is in the “on” position, and that it is set to either “heat” or “cool”. If you have a programmable thermostat make sure you check its settings and ensure the batteries are not dead. If it is still not working enlist someone to assist you and check to make sure the furnace itself is working. Slowly have your assistant turn the thermostat up while you stand by the furnace. The thermostat should emit a clicking noise, and the furnace should also make noise as it heats up. If your furnace remains silent, then the problem lies with your thermostat, which will need to be replaced.

The Pilot Light Or Electrical Ignition Fails

Your furnace is gas fuelled it is likely equipped with either a pilot light or an electrical ignition system, depending on its age. If this system fails, then the furnace is unable to ignite the burners, which means the furnace can’t produce any heat. Check that this system is working correctly and that the light is turning on as it should.

The Motor Blows

Furnaces come equipped with a blower motor, also known as a fan motor. If this component fails, then your furnace is unable to move the warm air throughout your home. The blower motor, belts, and bearings are part of a larger subsystem which is responsible for moving warm air throughout your home. Check these components carefully, and replace any items that show visible signs of wear or damage.

There Is A Problem With The Fuel Supply

Most furnaces used in Alberta are fuelled using natural gas. If there is a problem with the fuel supply, then the furnace can’t run. Due to the volatile and highly toxic nature of natural gas, you should not attempt to fix any fuel supply related problems on your own. Instead, call a licensed furnace technician or your natural gas supplier for assistance.

Don’t Forget The Importance Of Regular Inspections And Maintenance

By performing routine inspections and maintenance on your furnace, you can drastically extend its lifespan. Addressing potential problems before they manifest you will also help you ensure your family stays warm and happy all winter long.

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