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Troubleshooting 10 Common Furnace Problems: What You Can Do Before Calling a Professional

By: Nate Schick

As winter approaches, ensuring your furnace is in top condition is crucial. However, furnace problems are not uncommon. Here, we’ll discuss common issues and DIY troubleshooting steps. Remember, for expert help, especially in the Edmonton area, ProSolutions Inc. is your go-to professional service.

In case of an emergency furnace repair, check out our detailed guide on How to fix Your Furnace In An Emergency.

Disclaimer: Please note that while DIY furnace troubleshooting can be effective for minor issues, it is not without risks. ProSolutions Inc. will not be held responsible for any mishaps. Always prioritize safety and consider consulting a professional before attempting repairs yourself.

Essential Do’s and Don’ts for Furnace Troubleshooting


  • Do Regularly Check and Replace Your Furnace Filter: A clean filter ensures efficient operation and can prevent overheating.
  • Do Inspect Thermostat Settings: Before assuming a furnace issue, verify if the thermostat is correctly set to heat.
  • Do Ensure Clear Air Vents: Regularly inspect vents for blockages to maintain proper airflow.
  • Do Utilize Safe Alternative Heating Sources in Emergencies: When necessary, use safe methods like electric heaters, ensuring they are directly plugged into an outlet.


  • Don’t Ignore Safety Switches: Always check that safety switches and emergency shut-offs are properly functioning.
  • Don’t Overlook Strange Noises or Smells: Any unusual odors or sounds should be a prompt for professional inspection.
  • Don’t Run Space Heaters Indefinitely: Limit their use and never leave them unattended.
  • Don’t Use Extension Cords with Space Heaters: This can be a fire hazard. Always plug heaters directly into wall outlets.

1. Thermostat Check

First, ensure your thermostat is on and set to heat, with the temperature higher than the room’s. Check batteries and smart thermostat connections.

2. Clean/Replace Furnace Filter

A dirty filter can hinder furnace efficiency. Regular cleaning or replacement, ideally twice a year, is recommended.

3. Ensure Power Supply

Verify the furnace’s main switch is on. Some furnaces have a delay in starting up, so give it a few minutes.

4. Check Circuit Breaker

If the furnace isn’t heating despite being on, inspect the circuit breaker for any tripped switches.

5. Unblocked Outdoor Vents

Ensure all home vents are free from obstructions for optimal heat distribution.

6. Secure Front Panel Door

A partially open panel door can prevent the furnace from operating due to a triggered safety switch.

7. Use Alternative Heating Sources

In emergencies, use methods like running the dryer, opening the oven, boiling water, using an electric or gas fireplace, and employing space heaters, especially near water lines, to prevent freezing.

8. Gas or Burning Smells

If you detect gas or burning smells, shut down the furnace, open windows, and call a professional immediately.

9. Fire Hazard

Overheating can cause furnace shutdowns & potential for fires. Check for clogged filters or malfunctioning thermostats, which are common culprits.

10. Strange Noises

Odd noises from the furnace could indicate a serious problem. If simple troubleshooting doesn’t work, it’s time to call a professional.

Additionally, we have provided you with an easy-to-print Furnace Troubleshoot checklist that contains

Troubleshooting Checklist:

  • Emergency Switch: Verify it’s in the ‘on’ position.
  • Flame Sensor: Check and clean if necessary.
  • Fuel Supply: Confirm gas/oil supply.
  • Reset Main Power: Try resetting the home’s main power.
  • Condensate Pan: Ensure it’s not full or clogged.
  • Safety Switches: Check if they are properly closed.
  • Air Ducts: Look for leaks or blockages.
  • Unusual Sounds: Listen and identify any strange noises.
  • Heating Cycle: Observe the frequency of the heating cycle.
  • Pilot Light: Check if it’s lit (for older furnaces).

Advanced Troubleshooting

For those comfortable with more advanced troubleshooting:

  • Inspect the Flame Sensor: A dirty sensor can prevent the furnace from lighting.
  • Check the Condensate Pan: If your furnace has one, make sure it’s not full.
  • Evaluate Electrical Connections: Loose wiring can lead to malfunctions.

When to Call a Professional

If you’ve gone through these troubleshooting steps and your furnace is still not working, or if you’re not comfortable performing any of these actions, it’s time to call in a professional. For residents in the Edmonton area, ProSolutions Inc. offers reliable and efficient furnace repair services.

Understanding basic furnace maintenance and troubleshooting can be incredibly beneficial, especially during colder months. Remember, regular maintenance is key to prolonging the life of your furnace and ensuring your home stays warm and safe. For any issues beyond basic troubleshooting, don’t hesitate to contact ProSolutions Inc. in Edmonton for expert assistance.


Additional FAQ’s that can help

Can a dirty furnace filter cause my furnace to shut down?

Yes, a severely clogged filter can restrict airflow, causing the furnace to overheat and shut down as a safety measure.

What should I do if my furnace is running but not producing enough heat?

Check for blocked air vents in your home and ensure the furnace filter is clean. If the issue persists, it may be a problem with the furnace's burner or heat exchanger.

Is it normal for a furnace to frequently turn on and off?

Short cycling is often a sign of an oversized furnace, a malfunctioning thermostat, or a clogged filter. It's advisable to have a professional evaluate the issue.

Why is there a strange smell when I turn on my furnace?

A musty smell can indicate mold in your ducts, while a burning smell could be dust burning off. However, if you smell gas or something similar to rotten eggs, turn off your furnace immediately and call a professional.

How can I tell if my furnace is energy efficient?

Check the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating of your furnace. A higher AFUE rating indicates better energy efficiency. Regular maintenance also helps in maintaining its efficiency.

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