How To Troubleshoot When Your Furnace Won’t Start

As the cold winter weather starts to settle in Billings, it can be downright frustrating to have furnace problems in the middle of a Billings winter.

It’s one thing to pull your covers up and enjoy the brisk weather, but its quite another issue to deal with a failing heating system. If you are unsure why your home’s furnace won’t kick on, then it may be time to troubleshoot how to your furnace repair yourself with these steps:

  1. Check your circuit breakers: A tripped circuit breaker can be an easy fix if your furnace won’t turn on.
  2. Check your thermostat settings: Your thermostat may have reset when the power went out, or your thermostat could be on a schedule to keep your home cool.
  3. Ensure your furnace filters are clean: Your furnace won’t start up if it does not get enough airflow. A dirty air filter can prevent airflow and prevent your furnace from starting up.
  4. Check your pilot light: If you have a gas furnace and gas supply is stopped your pilot light will go out.
  5. Check your blower motor: If the blower motor is not working then your furnace won’t pump out warm air.
  6. Check the furnace ignition switch.

Over the years, our team has done lots of troubleshooting, and we put this list of steps together to help you understand why your furnace won’t turn on.


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Be sure to look through the simple furnace troubleshooting tips to see how to diagnose the cause of furnace malfunctioning so you can get closer to a properly working furnace for you and your family!

Please note that this article will help you identify why your heating system won’t turn on, and you should check out this article if your furnace is blowing lukewarm air.

DIY Troubleshooting For Common Furnace Problems

You may be feeling defeated and confused as your thermostat continues to drop, and your family complains about the cold temperature in your home.
This section will go through the methodical process to help you understand if there are easy fixes to get your furnace back up and running.

We can’t guarantee that these steps will get your furnace to turn on, but at the very least, you will have your bases covered when you call a local HVAC technician. Grab your work gloves and some essential household tools, and let’s take a look at the most common issues that lead to furnace problems for most homeowners.

1. Check Your Circuit Breakers

The most common issue that can cause furnace problems is if the circuit breaker powering the furnace is tripped. Even if you own propane or natural gas furnace system, you will need to check the electric source early on in the troubleshooting process!

You will need to check the circuits powering your furnace. You can manually check that the circuits are in the “ON” position. If the furnace circuit breakers are in the “ON” position and your furnace won’t turn on, you will likely have an electrical issue that you will need to address.

  • Check other electrical devices around your house like your microwave and TV. If these devices are not working, then your power could be out, and you should call your electric company to learn more.
  • Check the circuit breaker for your furnace and other components to ensure the circuits are in the “ON” position. You should be able to find these circuits with your main power panel, which is usually located in your laundry room or basement.
  • Check the circuit breaker on your furnace. You can quickly see if your furnace circuit breaker is on by looking for a small light near the furnace unit’s back.

Safety tip- never tape a circuit breaker to “ON” if you find that the circuits are tripped to the “OFF” position.


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2. Check Your Thermostat Settings

The next step to troubleshoot if your furnace won’t turn on is to check your thermostat settings. Here are some points to check to ensure your thermostat is working properly:

  • It may sound silly even to recommend this, but if your furnace doesn’t turn on, then you should check that your thermostat is in the “ON” position.
  • Since most thermostats use batteries, you may need to change your batteries. It would be best if you changed your batteries at least once a year or as needed.
  • Clean our your thermostat’s wiring because sometimes dust and debris will disrupt the electrical system.
  • Check that your thermostat is not on a schedule or cycle that could be preventing the unit from turning on.

Some thermostats will reset their settings if your furnace or home loses power. If your furnace is not running even when turned on, then your system may need to be programmed again to the desired temperature and schedule.

3. Ensure Your Furnace Filters Are Clean

Your furnace relies on a constant supply of clean air to heat your home. Believe it or not, a dirty air filter can prevent your HVAC system from turning on because the forced air system won’t supply the heat pump with the air needed to warm your home.


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Your system relies on constant airflow, and your heating system may not turn on if the system does not get an adequate supply of fresh air.
If your furnace filter is clogged, then your furnace igniter can’t produce the required air mixture to turn on. In addition, most HVAC systems have a safety feature that will prevent the furnace from turning due to fire danger.

Be sure to check out this article to learn everything you need to know about replacing your air filter.


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4. Check Your Furnace Pilot Light

Most modern furnaces still have a pilot light that indicates gas and propane is flowing to your furnace system. If this flow of gas or propane is interrupted for any reason, your furnace will turn off to avoid leaking gas or propane into your home.

Since your pilot light is related to your gas supply, you should talk to a trained Billings furnace company to help you with this furnace repair step.

5. Check Your Blower Motor

One of your gas furnace’s critical components is your blower motor because it pushes air through the HVAC system. You can check the blower motor by looking through the little plastic window to see if you can see a blinking green light.

If you see a blinking green light, then this means that your heating system will need the attention of an HVAC technician. Be sure to tell the HVAC company about the blinking light when you make the service call.

6. Check The Furnace Ignition Switch

Assuming that the previous steps all pan out, you will need to take a look at your ignitor. You should only take on this step if you are knowledgeable about electricity and have a firm grasp on home projects. Suppose you are like most homeowners, then you should stop at this step and call a local HVAC contractor to help you out.

You will need to locate your furnace flame sensor inside the operating manual at this step of troubleshooting. If the ignitor sensor gets dirty, it will not function properly, and you will need to clean the component.

Again, if you have can’t find anything in the previous troubleshooting steps, then you should schedule a service call with a trusted Billings HVAC expert.

When To Call For Professional Billings Furnace Repair

Now that you have checked all 6 troubleshooting steps to determine why your furnace won’t kick on, it may be time to contact your trusted Billings home heating repair pros. For furnace repair in Billings, and surrounding areas, depend on R & T Services for fast, affordable help when your furnace won’t turn on. Call us at 406-655-9700 today!

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R & T Services has over 30 years of experience. We look forward to working with you to get your furnace back up and running!

Furnace Won’t Start FAQs

What would cause my furnace not to kick on?

There are many issues that can prevent your furnace from starting up. Check these 6 troubleshooting steps before calling an HVAC pro for furnace repairs:

  1. Check your circuit breakers
  2. Check your thermostat settings
  3. Ensure your furnace filters are clean
  4. Check your pilot light
  5. Check your blower motor
  6. Check the furnace ignition switch
How do I check if my furnace filters are clogged?

Furnace filters are one of the most important parts of your home’s heating system. The filters allow clean airflow to the HVAC system, and you should choose the right furnace filters for your system.

What if my furnace is blowing lukewarm air?

Having a furnace that won’t turn on is different than having a furnace that blows lukewarm air. You will need to take a look at your HVAC system if your furnace blows lukewarm air: 

  1. Check your thermostat’s settings.
  2. Check that your air filter is clean and you don’t have a clogged air filter
  3. Check that your circuit breaker is not off
  4. Ensure that you have not experienced a power outage.
  5. Check that your air ducts are not blocked
  6. See if you own a two-stage furnace.