4 posts / 0 new
Last post
furnace problem - help!!

We woke up this morning to the sound of our furnace turning on and off several times. Eventually it does turn on and we do get heat, but not before turning on/off several times. Smell oil burning (or something).
The furnace is about 20 years old and we know it has to be replaced. We are trying to hold off until Summer.
Does anybody have any idea what the problem can be? We are not experts on this, but thinking it could be the start up switch??

Need an answer ASAP as we are afraid the furnace will burn out and it is about 20 degrees right now. With 4 kids this can be a major problem. Oh and we don't want our pipes to freeze.:)

Thank you much!!

Re: furnace problem - help!!

What type of furnace? Gas, electric, heat pump, oil, or something else? You hint at oil.

I've seen this happen with the oil furnace at our church. Usually it's something like a plugged fuel filter, a plugged nozzle, or an empty tank and it's sucking air. One time it was a failing combustion sensor -- an electric eye that makes sure there's fire. First, check to make sure you have fuel, and make sure that intake vents on the burner are clear. If the tank is reasonably full, I'd recommend calling a service person.

Re: furnace problem - help!!

It could also be dirty or defective igniter electrodes or a failing transformer for those electrodes. You probably should call a service company.

Blue RidgeParkway
Re: furnace problem - help!!

You weren't very specific as to what type of equipment you have for heating, so the description of your problem seems vague and the symptoms described are unclear (plus a lot of folks come here and refer to a boiler as a furnace so forgive in advance if you do know the difference).

Do you have the manuals for this equipment? have you checked the labels on the equipment for warnings, instructions, etc.?

If you can be more specific that might help someone here offer a suggestion beyond calling in a technician, which you'd likely need to do anyway, but if you don't know who to call or what type of heating system you have, etc. I'll offer the following link: http://www.heatinghelp.com/warm-air.cfm review the whole page, as you identify what type of heating system you have, skip down to the area that explains the indications of a problem, etc. of that type of system.

For example if you have a forced air furnace an you know this, then skip down to the type of forced air furnace you have (electric, gas fired, oil fired).

If you have a fuel fired source of heat it could be safety controls that are preventing the system from igniting, that clicking could be the relay to start a blower motor, blocked flue safety lock out etc. that must begin before the igniting sequence or a flue not opening, etc.

When you've figured out what type of system you have that will assist you in determining which professional to call and that page link will give you some working vocabulary to help you discuss your concerns about the symptoms you're witnessing. If your system was inspected and serviced (preventative maintenance) before the start of the heating system - then you already know your possible first best resource to call.

Most important: working carbon monoxide detectors in any home with any fuel burning appliances, and working smoke detectors.

If any doubt regarding safety, better a high electric bill and safe (from explosion, fire, asphyxia) and getting some of those portable filled radiator type electric heaters and/or some of those portable electric disk furnaces while the stores are still open and use those if you have to during the holiday and shut down your heating system until you can get a technician out rather than risking something more tragic, would keep you warm enough to keep pipes freezing.

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.