Pinpointing the affecting issue in a broken furnace isn't easy without professional help.

Broken Furnace – 10 Essential Tips to Keep in Mind

Tips and Advice

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Broken Furnace – 10 Essential Tips to Keep in Mind


Just like any household appliance, your home furnace will no doubt reach a day when it requires some level of repair. It could be that it’s making a minor noise or, worse yet, isn’t producing consistent heat. Regardless of the issue, you’ll need a specialist (such as Brian Plumbing & Heating) to repair your broken furnace and have it up and running again ASAP.

Additionally, after repairing hundreds of furnaces and gas appliances in the Edmonton area, one common question we’re asked is: “my furnace isn’t working, what should I do?”. You’re of course welcome to contact us and we can help with the repair, but you may be surprised to learn that you might not need us at all! With the advice shared in this guide, you may be able to troubleshoot or fix your furnace yourself.

10 Essential Tips When You Have a Broken Furnace

When the day arrives that you are dealing with a broken furnace, we recommend ten important tips:

  1. Is the Main Power on?
  2. Re-boot furnace
  3. Batteries in the thermostat
  4. Furnace filter isn’t blocked
  5. Ice buildup
  6. Check that the condensate trap isn’t clogged
  7. Ensure the vents are not obstructed
  8. Inspect Chimney 
  9. Call your furnace repair company 
  10. Use other sources of heat

1. Is the Main Power on?

As silly as it may sound, there have been times when a client has called us with a failing furnace only to discover the power is turned off.

So before anything, do yourself a favor and double check that your furnace’s power is turned *on*!

2. Re-boot furnace


On occasion, on modern, high efficient furnaces, a simple reboot of the furnace is all that is required, Simply turn the power off then back on after a couple minutes. Its a long shot, but you never know till you try.

3. Batteries in the Thermostat

Dead batteries are a fairly common problem, it is recommended to change your thermostat batteries yearly.

4. Inspect Furnace Filter

New vs. old dirty filter. If yours looks anything like the filter on the right, then it may be time for a replacement.

The furnace filter’s job is to protect the blower fan from dust, hair, and any other harmful contaminants that enter the furnace through the return duct.

After much use, the filter may become clogged and so dirty that it blocks the airflow and over heats the  furnace tripping it out. Thus, with the furnace power turned *off*, pull the filter out from the appliance and see how it compares to a new filter (such as the image above). Filters should be changed twice a year.

5. Ice buildup

On high-efficiency furnaces and particularly in cities with cold winters (such as Edmonton), a common reason for furnace failure is ice buildup in the air intake or exhaust of a furnace on the outside of the house.

Check that there isn’t a buildup of ice on the air intake or exhaust  preventing proper airflow.

6. Check that the condensate trap isn’t clogged


Furthermore, another frequent issue with high-efficiency furnaces is the tremendous amount of moisture and condensate produced, which must be collected in a “trap” and drained out of the furnace.

Although the trap is a highly effective draining mechanism, it’s also quite rudimentary in nature and can be easily blocked. More information on condensate drains can be found at HVAC School.

7. Ensure the vents are not obstructed.

On a high efficient furnace, in addition to ice build up mentioned in step 5,  the air intake and exhaust vent may be blocked  with  foreign objects such as a bird’s nest or dead rodents. Check the vents and remove any foreign objects that may be clogging the airflow.

8. Inspect Chimney


On your older, gravity vented furnaces and mid efficient furnaces, you may have a obstructed chimney.. We have have found children’s toys, bird’s nests, and even one of Santa’s boots in a chimney. A yearly inspection of your chimney is advised.

Photo Above: An extreme example of one of  a obstructed chimney – birds nests.

9. Call your furnace repair company

In addition, if tips 1 through 8  are not effective in reviving your furnace to working order, then it is best to give us call. We are available 7 days a week for Heating and Plumbing emergencies.

10. Use other sources of heat


Lastly, if your furnace is failing to produce warm air and you are left with a cold home, then it never hurts to find another source of heat temporarily, such as a electric portable heater, fireplace, and of course, a few extra layers of clothing to get you through until your furnace is repaired.

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