The Best Heating System Troubleshooting Tips for Cincinnati Homeowners

With family in town and holiday parties scheduled, the last surprise you want to wake up to is a heating system problem. If your furnace or heat pump ends up on the naughty list this year, a service call isn’t always necessary – heating system troubleshooting helps Cincinnati area homeowners correct minor issues and restore system performance on their own!

While not all malfunctions are fixed by heating system troubleshooting, many issues are able to be resolved by homeowners before calling for service. With heating system troubleshooting, it’s possible that you can solve issues without the discomfort, wait, and cost of an emergency heating repair call over the holidays.

Thomas & Galbraith’s NATE-certified heating repair technicians outline easy heating system troubleshooting steps to try when facing several common heating issues. Before you call us for heating repair, give our heating system troubleshooting tips a shot!

Heating System Troubleshooting for Common Furnace and Heat Pump Problems

If you run into trouble from your heating system this holiday season, don’t panic! Our NATE-certified technicians share heating system troubleshooting steps to take before calling an HVAC contractor. Find your system issue below and run through the troubleshooting steps to see if heat is restored without professional help.

System Doesn’t Make Enough Heat

If your furnace or heat pump runs yet the rooms throughout your home just don’t get warm enough, you have a heating issue on your hands. An issue that causes such a malfunction is airflow blockage. These heating system troubleshooting steps help you check common sources of airflow restrictions and resolve them.

Dirty Filter

Dirty air filters in forced air heating systems prevent air from properly flowing through the system, so your home doesn’t receive as much heat as it needs. During the winter months, it is important to check your filter monthly, as it often needs a change earlier than anticipated because the system is in use so often.

  1. Access your heating system’s filter compartment.
  2. Remove the old filter and examine it. Hold it up to a light – are you able to see light through the filter? If not, the layer of debris on the filter media is too thick and your filter needs to be replaced.
  3. Throw away the old filter and purchase a new one – be sure to obtain a correctly sized replacement filter.
  4. Insert the new filter per the directional markings along the frame of the filter.
  5. Replace access door to the filter compartment, if applicable.

Blocked Vents

Blocked vents throughout your home also prevent your living areas from receiving adequate heat. Your furnace or heat pump may produce enough heat, but blocked vents restrict it so it does not enter your rooms.

  1. Check all vents and return air grilles throughout your home.
  2. If your vents are louvered, make sure the louvers are opened. 
  3. Remove any items that have blocked the vent or grille, including furniture, rugs, carpets, and other items sat over or in front of the vent or grille.

No Airflow

So your furnace or heat pump runs, but there is no heat exiting the vents throughout your home – blower motor issues are commonly to blame for this symptom. These heating system troubleshooting steps help you check the blower and correct malfunctions.

  1. Disconnect power.
  2. Open the access panel to the system’s blower compartment.
  3. Visually examine the blower motor for debris – clear them away if found.
  4. Examine the fan belt – is it loose, damaged, or has it fallen off? If the belt has slipped, replace it around the motor wheels. Replacement fan belts are available for purchase at many hardware stores. If you do not feel comfortable replacing the fan belt yourself, contact us for heating repairs.

Heating System Produces Cold Air

When your furnace or heat pump turns on but the air blown from vents is not heated, a few different issues are possible causes of this symptom. The heating system troubleshooting tips walk you through how to check and resolve these possible problems.

  • Fan setting errors. On your thermostat, there is a switch which operates the blower fan in your furnace or air handler. AUTO needs to be selected. If ON is selected, your blower fan constantly runs, even when the heating system is not on. Without a heating cycle to produce heat, all that comes out the vents is cold air. The AUTO setting allows the blower fan to run just during heating cycles.

  • Dirty filter. A dirty filter causes more issues than just not enough heat – it has the potential to stop heat altogether by severely restricting airflow through the system and into your home. Check the filter by following the above heating system troubleshooting steps. Replace it if necessary to allow free movement of air through the system to restore proper heating.

  • Pilot light is out. Older furnaces may be equipped with pilot lights, which initiate the heating process. If your pilot light is out, the furnace is able to run but no heat is made. Shut the gas valve off and wait 15 minutes for excess gas to dissipate. Then, check your owner’s manual for instructions on how to relight the pilot light – do not do so if there is still a gas smell in the area. If you are unable to relight the pilot light or it keeps going out, it’s time to call for furnace repair.

  • No fuel. Gas, oil, and liquid propane furnaces need fuel to create heat. If there is a fuel supply problem, the system runs but there is no heat. Check the gas valve and ensure it is open, and make sure your gas utility service has not been interrupted. For oil and liquid propane units, check the fuel tank reading to see if it is empty or too low – you may need to schedule fuel delivery before heat is restored. Also, check valves to ensure they are open to allow fuel to the furnace.

  • Iced over heat pump. If your heat pump has accumulated too much ice, it is unable to transfer heat, so your home doesn’t receive warmth. Turn off the unit’s power and remove ice by gently chipping it away. Also, clear out debris and snow drifts that have piled up around the outdoor unit. If a gutter leak is dripping water onto the unit, fix this issue to prevent future heat pump freezes.

System Always Runs

If your furnace or heat pump has turned on and just won’t stop, your home becomes way too hot! A control issue could be the source of such a problem, so heating system troubleshooting for this issue involves some thermostat checks.

  1. Replace old batteries with fresh, fully charged ones.
  2. If your thermostat is hardwired to your home’s electrical system, go to the electrical panel and locate the circuit the thermostat is on. If the breaker has tripped, reset it; if its fuse has blown, replace the fuse.

If your thermostat does not turn on after you have verified it has power, you may need a new thermostat. Call your HVAC contractor to perform thermostat replacement, which allows your heating system to be properly controlled.

System Won’t Start

Heating system troubleshooting helps homeowners solve problems that prevent their furnace or heat pump from coming on. There are multiple areas to check, which we outline below:

  • Thermostat settings. Make sure the thermostat is powered – heating system troubleshooting steps for this are outlined in the previous section. Verify the thermostat is set to HEAT, and the date and time programmed are correct. Verify the thermostat is not set to HOLD or VACATION mode. Improper settings prevent your furnace or heat pump’s operation as expected.

  • Power disruptions. Go to the electric panel to check for errors that may have disrupted power to your heating equipment – reset breakers or replace fuses as needed. Also, look at the ON/OFF switch on your furnace, air handler, and outside heat pump unit – make sure they are turned ON.

  • Loose panels. If access doors and panels on the furnace or air handlers are loose or removed, some heating equipment does not turn on as a safety control. Check the panels on your heating equipment – ensure they are attached and properly closed.

  • Dirty filter. Yet another issues that can be caused by a dirty filter, if the filter causes overheating, the system shuts down and doesn’t turn back on until inner temperatures drop. Follow the heating system troubleshooting steps above to check and replace the filter.

Get Heating Help Today!

After performing the heating system troubleshooting steps for the problem you face, if heat and proper system performance is not restored, it is time to request heating repair service from Thomas & Galbraith.

Our NATE-certified HVAC technicians are available anytime, day or night, even on holidays and weekends to help you out of a heating emergency. We dispatch technicians quickly to diagnose and repair your system. Don’t let heating system malfunctions disrupt your holiday fun – call for heating system repair from Thomas & Galbraith today.

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