What Happens When Your Furnace Stops Working in the Winter?

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Sinclaire Enterprises, Inc.

140 South St., Walpole, MA 02081
P 508.668.8200 Toll Free 877.668.8822
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Master Plumber License #9530,
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The Massachusetts winter is no time to discover that your furnace isn’t working. During those cold days and nights, you count on your furnace to run properly and keep you and your family comfortable and safe from frigid temperatures. Dealing with a malfunctioning furnace is one of the last things you need.

Unfortunately, your furnace might still break down even when you do all the proper maintenance. If you know what the most common causes of furnace problems are, you can troubleshoot. Following are some of the winter HVAC problems people experience most often, what causes them, and what you can do about them.

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Poor Airflow

Does air not seem to be flowing through ducts and vents efficiently? Is the airflow weak or even nonexistent even though the system is on?
It might be that your air filters are dirty or clogged. When that happens, air circulation can be reduced or cut off. If it’s really bad, the system itself might shut down.

The solution for this one is simple: check your air filters to see if they’re dirty or clogged. If they are, change them. Actually, a general rule is to change air filters once per month.

Don’t have extra air filters at home? You can find them in home goods stores and many larger grocery stores, and you can also order them online and get fast delivery.

The Furnace is Cycling On and Off

If your system is switching on and off, especially if the intervals are more frequent than usual, the thermostat might have a problem. A thermostat that isn’t working properly may keep a furnace from warming a house effectively and may need to be calibrated.

The first thing you should do if you suspect a thermostat issue is to check the thermostat’s batteries. If the problem is as simple as replacing dead batteries, that’s great!

If the batteries are fine, you should check the setting on the thermostat to ensure you have it set at the right temperature. Whoever set it might have mistakenly set it too high or low, affecting the cycles.

Should the trouble not be the batteries or the setting, it’s probably best to call an HVAC technician who can come out and calibrate your thermostat for you.

The System Isn’t Coming On

When your furnace isn’t coming on at all, the culprit might not be the furnace. Instead, you could be dealing with the result of a power loss due to a winter storm. Although we typically think of power losses in terms of events that can last hours or days and which we have no control over, a short power outage can cause your furnace to stop working, too, and if you were out when the outage occurred, you might not even know that one happened.

Check your furnace’s pilot light. If it’s out, you can relight it. Make sure you know how to do this safely and correctly.

Another possibility is that a circuit breaker has tripped, so check the panel and see if the circuit breaker needs to be reset. If you reset the circuit breaker and it trips again, and this keeps happening, you should call a professional because this is a sign of a bigger problem.

Temperatures Feel Colder Than What the Thermostat’s Set To

Sometimes home feels cooler than what you have your thermostat set for ideally. When that happens, your home might be having an issue with dry air, which is more common in the winter. Just as a humid day in summer can feel warmer than what the thermometer says, the drier air in winter can make things feel colder than you would expect of a given temperature.

For trouble with dry air in winter, you can consider having a residential humidification system installed. This will not only help make things feel warmer but will improve indoor air quality as well. When air is too dry, skin feels dry as well, and it can get itchy, too. Another common effect of dry air is that some people experience nosebleeds more frequently.

Your Furnace Is Warming Up Too Slowly

A lot of people set their thermostats lower during the day. This might be because no one is home all day, sunlight coming through windows creates a warming effect, or they want to save on energy bills.

If you’re doing this and finding that the house is taking too long to warm up in the evening and overnight, you might be setting your thermostat too low during the day, meaning the furnace has more work to do in the evening and can’t get there as quickly as you want it to be doing so.

One remedy to this is to set the thermostat higher during the day. This might cause your energy bills to go a little higher, but it might be worth it if it helps keep your home warm enough at night. Another remedy is using a programmable thermostat, improving energy efficiency.

One way it does that is by allowing you to start increasing the temperature before you get home without having to leave it at a higher setting all day.

If changes in settings are not the issue, it might be that your furnace is old or failing, in which case you might want to get a new furnace.

Call a Pro!

When your furnace stops working in the winter, every minute counts. That’s because every minute that passes is a minute that your home isn’t at the temperature you need for you and your family to stay comfortable and safe.

Instead of figuring out the problem and fixing it yourself, the best course of action might be to call a professional HVAC service. This will save you time and trouble, and you’ll benefit from knowing that a pro will know what to look for and how to fix the problem, so things are back to normal as soon as possible.

Sinclaire Home Service has been a family-owned HVAC services company since 1948. Our team comprises experts in designing, installing, maintaining, and repairing HVAC systems. Our reputation for expertise and professionalism helps make us a regional leader in our industry.

Don’t let the cold winter weather be a source of worry in your home. For HVAC repair in Norfolk or furnace repair in Franklin, contact us at Sinclaire Home Services!