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Althoff Home Services Blog

What To Do Before Calling for Emergency Furnace Repair

It’s a frigid winter day and you wake up to a cold house. You soon discover that the heater isn’t working! Your first thought is to call for emergency furnace repair.

Before you grab your phone, you can take a few simple steps to see if you may be able to resolve the issue on your own. This may help correct the problem quicker and without the expense of a potentially unnecessary emergency furnace repair call.

5 Quick Furnace Troubleshooting Tips

1. Check your thermostat.

  • Make sure that the thermostat is on and set to “heat.” This sounds obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many service calls happen because the homeowner didn’t know that someone (like a guest or child) adjusted the settings!
  • If your thermostat has a fan setting, set it to “auto” instead of “on.” Otherwise, the fan may blow continually even when the air isn’t being heated.
  • If the room temperature is lower than the thermostat setting, try adjusting the setting up a few degrees to see if the furnace kicks in.

2. Make sure you have power to the furnace.

Even if you have a gas furnace, an interruption in electric power will interrupt your furnace from producing heat. You may have a circuit breaker that has tripped.

If that’s the case, you can reset it by turning the circuit all the way off and then on again. If the circuit immediately breaks again, call a professional.

3. Check your air filter.

An air filter that is extremely clogged will not allow the air to be heated properly. It may cause your furnace to overheat and shut down.

Remove the filter and hold it against the light. Can’t see any light through it? Replace it. We recommend checking your furnace filter every month and replacing as needed.


4. If you have a gas furnace, make sure the gas supply is on.

If you’ve had any repairs done lately, someone may have shut off the gas supply valve and then forgot to turn it back on. Or, the gas company may have shut down the gas lines for maintenance. A quick check with the gas company is a good idea if you think this may be the case.

  • Check the gas valve at the gas company’s meter.
  • Check the gas valve on your furnace. Your furnace’s gas valve is on when the handle is inline (parallel) with the pipe. If it’s off, the handle will be perpendicular to the pipe.

If you smell gas, turn off the supply and immediately call a professional.

5. Check the ignition source or pilot light.

Most modern furnaces have an igniter coupled with a flame sensor rather than a physical pilot light. Both of these can wear out and require repair. In fact, ignitor and flame sensor problems are some of the most common furnace repairs we encounter.

If you have an older furnace, your unit may have a physical pilot light. A draft or interruption in gas service can cause the pilot light to go out. If your pilot light is out, and you’ve already confirmed that you have a safe gas supply, try relighting it according to your owner’s manual. (This is usually done with a fireplace match or long barbeque-style lighter.)

If you’re not comfortable with this, or the pilot light won’t stay lit, call a technician.

4 Furnace Facts to Know When Calling for Repair

If the above steps do not resolve your issue, it’s time to call for furnace repair. Gathering the following information will help your technician resolve the issue more promptly.

  • Make note of your furnace brand and model number.
  • Make note of your furnace’s approximate age.
  • Write down the steps you took in trying to determine the problem.
  • Be sure to let the repair company know if they have done previous work for you.

Share the above information when you’re on the phone with the customer service representative when scheduling your service call.

At Althoff Industries, we appreciate having this information so our technician has a head start on the specific problem. He or she can make sure to have the appropriate part or parts to resolve the problem on the initial call.

Althoff Industries offers Chicago-area emergency furnace repair 24 / 7 / 365.

Waking up to a home without heat can interrupt your entire day. It is our goal at Althoff Industries to minimize any disturbance to you and your home and restore heat quickly and safely. If the loss of heat is the result of a deeper issue relating to the age or maintenance of your furnace, we will discuss your options with you.

If you live in the NW Chicago suburbs or Crystal Lake and McHenry County area, we invite you to make Althoff Industries your go-to team when it comes to the comfort of your indoor air. Any day, anytime, we are here to assist you. Call (815) 455-7000.

This information is provided as a general guideline. Althoff Industries does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information.

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