Whether it’s a leaky furnace or if you flip the switch to start your heating system when the weather gets cold and it won’t start, common furnace problems can strike your home at any moment.

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

If you're unsure about the problem or aren't equipped with the necessary skills and tools, it's best to call a reputable HVAC company like Ambience HVAC, Inc.. We can accurately identify the issue and complete 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 common heating dilemmas:

1. Your Furnace Leaks Water

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

It is necessary to address water leaks promptly to prevent further damage to your furnace. Reaching out to a professional HVAC technician like the crew at Ambience HVAC, Inc. is recommended to diagnose and resolve the issue successfully.

2. My Furnace Blows Cold Air/Not Blowing Hot Air

Some possible 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 measure.

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

3. My Furnace Is Not Keeping Up

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

To address this, first check your home’s insulation level and make sure it’s enough to insulate your home. Also, examine the thermostat to make sure it’s set right and the batteries still function.

If the problem won’t go away, consider consulting with an experienced HVAC company, such as Ambience HVAC, Inc., who can look over your system, determine the root cause and provide solutions such as furnace replacement, repairing ductwork or modifying your thermostat settings.

4. My Furnace Isn't Running at All

If your furnace is not working, there are a couple of steps you can take to troubleshoot before contacting a heating specialist. Ensure the thermostat is set properly and the batteries are good. If the furnace still doesn't turn on, check the circuit breaker or fuse box to verify power is reaching the furnace.

If there is power but no heat, the problem may rest with the ignition system or gas supply. In that case, it's better to contact a seasoned HVAC professional for diagnosis and repair.

5. My Furnace Turns On and Off

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 ought to. This can lead to inefficiency, increased energy consumption and potential damage to your furnace.

If you suspect your furnace is short cycling, the first step is to check your unit’s air filter. Filters should be switched out on a regular basis to ensure air flow, so if your furnace air filter is clogged with debris you should exchange it for a clean one—and be sure it is pointing in the right direction. Next, check your thermostat and verify  it’s set right and the batteries are good.

If those two things don’t work, it’s a good idea to call experts like the team at Ambience HVAC, Inc.. Immediate professional attention will help restore the proper functioning of your furnace and reduce the chance of more complications and high energy bills.

6. My Furnace Is Making a Humming Noise

If your furnace is making a humming noise, it often is a sign of an issue with the electrical elements or the blower motor. Therefore, if you detect your furnace making a humming noise, it is crucial to take action.

If the noise doesn't go away, it is better that you  get in touch with a professional HVAC technician.

7. My Furnace Makes Loud Noises

If your furnace is emitting a consistent loud noise, it's important to address the issue promptly to prevent further damage or potential safety hazards.  One common cause of this is a broken blower motor or fan, which can create a grinding or screeching sound. Another common cause is a loose or worn-out belt that may make a squealing or rattling noise.

Due to 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 will not turn on, make sure the thermostat is set to the desired temperature, is in heating mode and the batteries are good. Then, see if the circuit breaker or fuse that controls the furnace is working right. If these basic checks don't fix the problem, you can examine the furnace's power switch or emergency shutoff switch to ensure they're in the "on" position and weren’t accidentally turned off.

If those steps don’t work, contact an expert for furnace repair.

9. My Furnace Won't Ignite

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 looking over your circuit breakers are a good place to start.

Other potential causes of a furnace not igniting are a faulty igniter or malfunctioning flame sensor. Symptoms of these include the furnace repeatedly trying 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 easily repaired by HVAC specialists like the team at Ambience HVAC, Inc..