For your safety, be sure to read the General Gas-Fired Equipment Maintenance Tips for equipment maintenance before attempting to investigate or repair natural gas equipment problems.

If you take care of your heating system, you'll find it burns fuel more efficiently and lasts longer, saving you money. Here are some cost and energy savings tips! (For even more tips and safety advice, visit Do It Yourself Home Comfort Tips.)

Have an annual check-up

Have a heating contractor (registered with the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA)) perform a yearly maintenance check-up of your gas-fired equipment and venting system to ensure efficient, safe operation. Adjustments, cleaning of burners, replacement of parts, repairs, and inspections of venting are jobs for licensed professionals as explained in General Gas-Fired Equipment Maintenance Tips who know the equipment and the codes that must be followed.

Between annual check-ups here are some things you can do to help keep your heating system working efficiently.

Energy & Safety Tips

  • Turn off the power to the furnace before you do anything.
  • Clean or replace your furnace filter frequently (every one to two months) during the heating season. If you have central air conditioning, be sure to clean or change the filter during the summer. A dirty filter reduces air flow and can make your equipment work harder to heat or cool your home.
  • At the beginning of each heating season, vacuum dust from the warm air registers throughout your home.
  • Keep all warm air registers and return air openings and space heaters or baseboards clear of furniture, rugs and drapes to allow free air movement.

What to do if your furnace isn't working

(Before you call a heating contractor, check the following. You may be able to save the cost of a service call.)

  • Furnace power switch: This switch, usually located on a wall near the furnace, must be in the ON position.
  • Fuse or circuit breaker: The fuse or circuit breaker will be located in the main electrical panel of your home. The fuse may need replacing. The circuit breaker may have been turned off, and no one has turned it back on.
  • Furnace filter: A clogged furnace filter can block the flow of warm and cool air into your home. Clean or replace dirty filters.
  • Dual thermostat control: If your furnace thermostat has a dual control for heating and cooling, make sure the control has been turned to the appropriate operating mode setting.
  • Pilot light: An older furnace may have a pilot light that must be lit by hand if it goes out. If you have such a furnace and the pilot light isn't lit, try once to relight it. Follow the instructions for relighting which should be on a plate or sticker on the furnace or inside the access door. If you have difficulty relighting the pilot light, call your TSSA registered heating contractor for advice.

Furnace trouble shooting

Checking the Pilot

  • Older furnaces have a standing pilot light that burns continuously. As well as igniting the burners, the pilot light is also a safety device.
  • If the pilot light is out, follow the relighting instructions on your furnace.
  • Newer furnaces have an electronic pilot. Just follow the instructions and reset the switch.
  • If you are at all unsure of the correct procedure, call a TSSA registered heating contractor and detail your furnace problems.

Checking Fuses or Breaker Switches

  • Find out which fuse or breaker switch controls the power to your furnace; it should be marked on the fuse panel. If necessary, replace the fuse or reset the switch.
  • You can't always see fuse damage. Be on the safe side; always replace it with a correctly-sized fuse. If it fails again, there could be a short circuit. For more information call an electrician.