Three Reasons Your Gas Heater Doesn't Light Your Fire

Are you experiencing problems getting your gas furnace to heat your home? Perhaps it heats up fine, although the noise and vibration is driving you bonkers. Maybe your heating bills have soared recently, although you can't see a difference in your usage. If your gas heater is not providing satisfactory results, look to these overlooked possibilities:

1. The Thermostat is Malfunctioning

What could cause your gas heater's thermostat to suddenly malfunction? It could be something as simple as a dead battery. If your thermostat is a modern digital unit, it requires a battery to maintain the setting.

If the thermostat is turned to the "On" and "Heat" position and it still doesn't register, try placing a fresh battery in the designated compartment. A dead battery will mess up the programmable feature or cause the unit to stop functioning altogether. After replacing the battery, you may need to hit the reset button for a kick-start.

If a new battery doesn't resolve the problem, you might want to unscrew the thermostat cover and examine the wiring. Be sure the wiring is connected to the terminals. If they are loose, you'll need to tighten them. If they are damaged, you might need to call an HVAC service technician for repair.

2. The Filter Needs to Be Cleaned or Replaced

A dirty heater filter may not heat your home efficiently. Cleaning your filter every month or two will prevent soot build up and unhealthy air quality in your home. If the filter is torn, replace it with a new one. Be sure to obtain the designated size for the unit, and turn off the furnace before removing the old filter and replacing it.

3. The Gas Valve is Shut Off or Broken

Replacing the gas valve could become costly, so before doing so, check to be sure it is fully open. If your heating contractor suggests replacing a faulty gas valve, you should heed the advice. A gas valve that leaks could become extremely hazardous.

To test for a leaking gas valve, apply a bit of soapy water to the part and look for bubbles. Bubble formation is indicative of a leak. If this happens, shut off the unit at once and call for service.

4. The Exhaust Vents Are Clogged

Check the exhaust vents and intake valves from outside of the heating unit. Are they clogged from debris, or from ice and snow? This may be the reason your furnace is not heating your home. More importantly, a blocked exhaust vent could lead to a dangerous build-up of carbon monoxide in your home. This odorless gas causes toxicity when inhaled, and if left unchecked it may be fatal.

5. The Inducer Motor or Blower Motor May Be Faulty

If you hear a vibrating noise emitting from your furnace, you could have a faulty blower or inducer motor. Your HVAC repairman can check for this issue, and order a replacement part if necessary. Your repairman might also check the blower belt and tighten it or replace a worn one. Another reason for the loud noise could be dirt accumulation on the gas burners. This is easily resolved by scheduling routine maintenance from a heating specialist.

Before Calling a Technician

Something as simple as an unlit pilot light could be the issue. If the pilot is lit, new thermostat batteries are installed and the filter has been changed, another thing to check is the furnace circuit breaker. It may have tripped a fuse.

You can reset the circuit breaker by turning it off, then on again quickly. If the circuit trips frequently, have a technician from a place like HomeSmart From Xcel Energy check for an electrical system short and have it repaired if necessary.