Imagine this: you just finished dinner, and you sit down to catch up on the latest episode of the new singing show everyone is talking about. All of a sudden, you hear — and begin to feel — that your furnace is not working. It’s after regular business hours, and you’re not sure what to do. It’s cold out and most HVAC service companies have closed for the day. Do you need to call a 24-hour furnace repair company or are you okay waiting until the morning? Here’s what you need to ask yourself before you make the call.
Is There A Simple Reason My Furnace May Not Be Working?
It should come as no surprise that after hours calls to an HVAC contractor come at a higher price. So, before you call an emergency HVAC technician, check to see if there is an easy solution to your problem first. We’ve put together a list of common furnace problems here. Some are very easy to fix – like replacing a dirty filter or checking to make sure your thermostat is set correctly. Some faulty thermostats just need batteries replaced.
Other fixable issues include a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse. During the winter and the holidays, you may see this happen more often because of all the extra lights and electronics plugged-in.
Our in-house expert, Keith Hill, technical support manager from Minnesota Air, also suggests making sure to see that the switch on the furnace is in the ‘ON’ position and that you check the venting and combustion air intake pipes for blockage (if applicable).
How Well-Insulated Is My House?
After you’ve gone through the whole checklist of what to do if your furnace isn’t working, then the next question is to ask yourself if you can wait to make the call during regular hours.
How cold is it outside? How far has the temperature already dropped inside? Are you concerned about pipes freezing? Keith says homeowners should realize that it takes a while to cool down to freezing temperatures inside the home. You may be able to wait until regular service hours and avoid the emergency fees.
“If it’s -10 outside, and it’s already dropped to 40 degrees inside your home, then by all means get someone out immediately,” says Keith. “But if it’s a balmy 20 degrees outside and indoors it’s only dropped to 60 degrees, it may take days, not hours, to be at risk of freezing pipes indoors.”
He says it obviously all depends on how well your home is insulated, but most homes today ‘cool off’ at a much slower rate than you might think.
“Throw on an extra blanket and call for a tech in the morning,” he says.
Is It Worth The Price To Wait?
Lastly, if you do decide to wait to make the call – think about safety first. Space heaters may be a big temptation to use while waiting for your furnace to be fixed, so make sure that they are the modern electric heaters and that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Do NOT use the space heaters that aren’t made for indoor use.
“If you are tempted to use a portable space heater, do not even think about using anything that burns fuel indoors. The products of combustion are a much greater threat than any frozen water pipe, don’t do it,” says Keith.
The electric heaters that don’t have an open heating source are much safer, but realize they do draw a lot of power, and too many on one circuit will blow a fuse or trip a circuit breaker, says Keith.
For more info on keeping your home safe with a space heater, check out our guide here.