Whether it’s a leaky furnace or if you flick the switch to turn on your heating system in the fall and it won’t start, common furnace problems can impact your home at any moment.

Regardless of the problem, knowing how your heating system works and a little bit about some common furnace problems is crucial in deciding whether you can troubleshoot on your own or if you need professional services. By monitoring the furnace's behavior, listening for peculiar noises and checking for signs of damage or blockage, you can narrow down the possible causes.

If you're not sure about the problem or lack the necessary skills and tools, it's best to call a reputable HVAC company like Ohler & Holzhauer Inc.. We can accurately diagnose the issue and perform the required repairs or maintenance, so we can get your furnace up and running ASAP.

Here's more about what causes a furnace to leak water and eight other frequent heating dilemmas:

1. My Furnace Is Leaking Water

A furnace can leak water for a number of reasons. One possibility is a condensate leak, where the water produced during the combustion process is not effectively draining away. This may be due to a blocked condensate drain line or a failing condensate pump. Another likely cause of water leakage from a furnace is a cracked heat exchanger, which can be responsible for water—as well as dangerous gases—coming out of the furnace.

It is important to address water leaks promptly to prevent additional damage to your furnace. Consulting with a professional HVAC technician like the crew at Ohler & Holzhauer Inc. is recommended to diagnose and resolve the issue properly.

2. My Furnace Blows Cold Air/Lack of Heat

Some likely causes for a furnace blowing cold air or not blowing hot air are a malfunctioning thermostat, a problem with the pilot light or ignition system, a clogged air filter, or a malfunctioning heating element. It could also be your furnace is overheating and shutting off as a safety precaution.

If your furnace won’t blow hot air, it's a good idea to contact a trained HVAC specialist to diagnose and fix the problem. They can offer an accurate assessment and recommend the correct solution.

3. My Furnace Struggles to Keep Up

A common reason your furnace isn’t keeping up on a cold day is that your home doesn’t have enough insulation, which can result in heat loss and lower efficiency. Another reason your furnace is having difficulties is because it’s not big enough for your home, so it can’t make enough heat to completely warm the space. A malfunctioning thermostat or ductwork problems can also produce insufficient heating.

To deal with this, first assess your home’s insulation level and make sure it’s enough to keep warm air in and cold air out of your home. Also, check the thermostat to ensure it’s set right and the batteries aren’t dead.

If the problem continues, consider calling an experienced HVAC company, such as Ohler & Holzhauer Inc., who can assess your system, determine the root cause and provide solutions such as furnace replacement, repairing ductwork or adjusting your thermostat settings.

4. My Furnace Is Not Working

If your furnace is not working, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot before phoning a professional. Make sure the thermostat is set correctly and the batteries are not dead. If the furnace still doesn't power on, check the circuit breaker or fuse box to verify power is reaching the furnace.

If there is power but your furnace won't blow hot air, the problem may lie with the ignition system or gas supply. In that case, it's a good idea to consult a knowledgeable HVAC technician for diagnosis and repair.

5. My Furnace Short Cycles

If your furnace is short cycling, this means it is turning on and off frequently at short intervals instead of running in regular cycles like it should. This can result in inefficiency, higher energy bills and potential damage to your heating system.

If you suspect your furnace is short cycling, the first step is to pull out your unit’s air filter. Filters should be changed when they are dirty to ensure air flow, so if your furnace air filter is dirty you should exchange it for a clean one—and make sure it is pointing in the right direction. If that doesn’t do the trick, look at your thermostat and verify  it’s set right and the batteries are good.

If those two things don’t work, it’s smart to call experts like the staff at Ohler & Holzhauer Inc.. Prompt professional attention will help restore the proper functioning of your furnace and prevent further complications and high energy bills.

6. My Furnace Hums All the Time

Whenever your furnace is making a humming noise, it often is a sign of problems with the electrical elements or the blower motor. For this reason, if you notice your furnace making a humming noise, it is important to take action.

If the noise continues, it is a good idea to  get in touch with a professional HVAC technician.

7. My Furnace Is Making a Loud Noise

If your furnace is making a persistent loud noise, it's important to deal with the issue right away to prevent further damage or potential safety concerns.  One common problem that causes this is a failing blower motor or fan, which can generate a grinding or screeching sound. Another potential cause is a loose or worn-out belt that may emit a squealing or rattling noise.

Given the complexity of furnace systems and potential risks involved, it's best to get a hold of a heating and cooling specialist.

8. My Furnace Is Not Turning On

If your furnace won't turn on, make sure the thermostat is set to the desired temperature, is in heating mode and the batteries are functioning. Then, check if the circuit breaker or fuse that goes to the furnace is working right. If these basic checks don't resolve the problem, you can inspect the furnace's power switch or emergency shutoff switch to make sure they're in the "on" position and weren’t accidentally turned off.

If those steps don’t do the job, contact an expert for furnace repair.

9. My Furnace Is on but Not Igniting

Like a a furnace that won't turn on at all, a furnace that isn’t igniting can be caused by a plugged air filter or a tripped circuit breaker. So, inspecting the air filter and assessing your circuit breakers are a good place to start.

Other potential causes of a furnace not igniting could be a faulty igniter or nonfunctional flame sensor. Symptoms of these include the furnace continually making an attempt to ignite without success, an absence of heat production or the furnace is making a burning or gas smell. Both of these issues can be very easily repaired by HVAC professionals like the team at Ohler & Holzhauer Inc..