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There is nothing more frustrating than coming home after a long day or work to find that your home is cold. As soon as you walk into your house, you can feel the chill. You check the thermostat and see that the heat has been turned up to the highest setting. You start looking for the problem and realize that your furnace appears to not be functioning properly. When you call in a technician, one of the first things he asks about is whether you have recently installed new humidifiers or dehumidifiers, because those are two common causes of problems with furnaces in homes with forced-air heating systems. While this article does not cover installing either of those devices, there are some other things you should know when it comes to troubleshooting a furnace if something goes wrong in yours—especially if it’s during a cold snap and your family members are shivering uncontrollably.

Check Your Thermostat

The first thing you should always do when troubleshooting a furnace problem is to check the thermostat. Most of the time, that is where the problem is. If you have recently replaced the thermostat and it’s a digital thermostat, make sure that you have programmed it correctly. If it’s a standard thermostat, make sure that it”s set to “heat,” as it should be in the winter months.

The Furnace Is On, But the Blower Isn’t Running

Does the furnace shut off when the blower shuts off? If so, then you’re probably dealing with a faulty thermostat. It might be broken, or it might be set above the current temperature in your home. If the furnace shuts off when the blower shuts off and the thermostat is operating properly, then you are probably dealing with a clogged filter. Before you do anything else, unplug the furnace and remove the filter to see if anything is blocking it. Once you have the filter cleared, replace it, plug the furnace back in, and see if it operates properly.

The Furnace Is On, but the Temperature Doesn’t Rise

If the furnace is running, but the temperature in the home doesn’t rise, then you are probably dealing with a clogged filter. As with the previous issue, unplug the furnace, remove the filter, and clear it out of any debris. Replace the filter, plug the furnace back in, and see if the temperature in the home increases.

Condensation Has Formed on the Furnace or Fan

If you notice condensation forming on the outside of the furnace or the fan, you need to call a professional because this means that your furnace isn’t getting enough airflow and is overheating. There are two possible reasons for this. The first is an insufficient supply of fresh air for the furnace. The second is that the furnace has been installed in an area that is too warm for it.

Combustion Gases Are Leaking From Your Furnace

If you hear a hissing sound coming from your furnace and there is a strong smell of burning, then combustion gases have leaked out of your furnace. This happens when gas-powered furnaces aren’t installed correctly and combustion gases can’t be properly vented out of the home. You should call a professional as soon as possible because this is extremely dangerous. If you don’t, the gases could ignite, and your home could catch on fire.

Your Ductwork Is Blowing Hot Air Only and Not Cold Air

If the air being blown through your ductwork isn’t cold and is instead just warm air, then your air ducts are probably blocked by debris. To clean them out, follow this procedure. First, shut off your furnace and turn off the power to your furnace. Next, open the ductwork in the area where the furnace is located. Then, use a shop vacuum or a cordless drill with a brush attachment to remove any debris from the ducts.


These are just a few of the most common issues that you might run into with your furnace. As soon as you notice any of them or something just isn’t operating smoothly, get in touch with a professional to troubleshoot the problem and make the necessary repairs. That way, you can ensure that your family stays comfortable through even the coldest days of the year.