What To Do If Your Heat Suddenly Stops Working This Winter

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It always seems as though our heating systems decide to stop working when we need them most, right? Isn’t it such a pain when cold weather settles in and you come home to a house that feels like you’re still outside? Well, don’t panic just yet — there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot a furnace that suddenly stops working.

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Check the Pilot Light

Some older furnace models that run on gas or combustion-fuel are equipped with a pilot light. Newer models typically have an electronic ignition, but either way, if the flame goes out, you have no heat.

Pilot Lights

If you have a furnace with a pilot light, check to make sure it’s still lit. Not seeing a flame? There could be an issue with the thermocouple (it may be loose or faulty), the orifice could be clogged or jammed or the flame may be set too low. If none of those seem to be the problem, there could be a problem with the safety valve.

If you’re lucky, a simple match or barbecue lighter will be all you need to relight the pilot, but if that doesn’t work, it could be a more labor-intensive fix, which we recommend referring to a professional for help.

Electronic Ignitions

Have a furnace with an electronic ignition? You may simply need to reset the unit. First, turn down the thermostat or turn off the system at the main power switch. Then head back over to the furnace to reset the ignition control. You should hear the sound of a spark or see the surface ignitor begin to glow again if this fix works.

Troubleshoot the Cycle

Refer to the steps below if your furnace is in fact working, but you’re not receiving enough heat:

  • Make sure nothing is blocking the flow of warm air of airflow through the system.

  • Check the thermostat to make sure it’s on the “heat” setting and that the fan is set to “on” or “auto.”

  • Raise the thermostat four or five degrees and wait an hour or so to see if the heat starts kicking on.

  • Check all vents and heat registers to ensure they are open.

  • Clean or replace the filter in the furnace as a dirty or clogged filter can reduce performance and efficiency.


Still unable to get your heating system up and running properly? That’s where we come in! The heating experts at American Mechanical are here to keep you and your family comfortable all winter long. Give us a call today at (757) 347-8549.