Dog covered by blanket when heat won't come on

My Heat Won’t Come On! What Do I Do?

Furnaces are the sort of thing you probably don’t think about until something goes wrong. When the weather’s nice and the sun is shining, we rarely stop to think about whether or not our furnace needs a tune-up or a filter change. Then, the cold weather hits, we flick the thermostat on, and… nothing. The heat won’t come on. Maybe you wait a few minutes to see if it just needs to warm up, but nothing happens. Now you’re in trouble – it’s cold outside and you have no heat!

Your top priority is to diagnose and fix the problem. You can’t go through a winter without heat, after all. But sometimes that’s easier said than done. Unfortunately, when the first big cold snap hits in autumn or winter, many Denverites find out their furnace either doesn’t work or doesn’t work well — all at the same time. Getting an appointment within 24 hours with a heating professional during peak season can get tricky — it’s one of the reasons Swan recommends getting your furnace tuned each Fall before the weather turns. That way, you have peace of mind that when the first snow falls, your furnace will come on without a hitch.

Find out how our monthly maintenance program can save you money and keep your heating and cooling systems running better, longer!

But we’re past that now. The furnace isn’t working and you’re getting chilly. What do you do? First, call for help. Even if you can’t get an appointment today, you will want to get booked in before someone else snags your appointment slot! In the meantime, your priority is to keep warm and comfortable until help arrives.

Use Alternative Sources When The Heat Won’t Come On

Provided your furnace is out but your electricity is still on, you have some options for keeping the house warm without a working furnace. In fact, most of us have a big heater right in the middle of our kitchens.

The Oven

Now, it isn’t safe or energy efficient to turn the oven on broil and leave the door open to heat your home. If you use a gas oven, you need to be extra-cautious. Without adequate ventilation, running a gas oven for hours can be very dangerous. However, the ambient heat from cooking a roast, for instance, will gently warm the kitchen and any adjacent rooms over the course of a few hours.

Space Heaters

Another option when your heat won’t come on is to use space heaters. Many of us have space heaters to supplement our furnaces in particularly cold areas of the home, or just as an emergency backup. If you don’t have one, you can find affordable and efficient infrared heaters for as little as $30 or so. These won’t put out enough heat to warm your entire home, but will provide enough heat to warm a single, smaller room, or part of a larger room. There are many varieties of space heaters. Be sure you know how to operate your particular heater safely, and don’t leave it unattended.

In case of a longer-term furnace outage, you may want to consider renting a more powerful heater. Be sure you understand how to safely operate any large heater. Many of them run on kerosene, propane, or other fossil fuels that will require adequate ventilation to operate safely.

Wood Stoves and Fireplaces

Finally, many homes still have fireplaces and wood stoves. If yours is in operating condition (don’t assume your chimney is clean and ready for a fire if you never use it — chimney fires are extremely dangerous!) and you have some dried firewood available, wood stoves and fireplaces generate plenty of heat and some cozy ambience to boot!

Dress for the Conditions

When your heat won’t come on, the cheapest way to stay warm is to bundle up. Pull out the heavy down blankets and Christmas sweaters! Layering clothing helps your body retain heat and dramatically lowers the need for heaters. You might not be totally comfortable in a cold house — bathing isn’t ideal, and fingers and toes still get chilly — but you can endure it by dressing for the conditions.

Use and Heat Fewer Rooms in Your Home

Heating an entire house is a big challenge. Furnaces make it easier and more efficient than ever — when they work. Heating an entire detached home with electric space heaters can get expensive quickly, and often means you’re heating rooms with no people in them. When your heat’s out, close off any rooms you don’t really need to use right away and focus on heating rooms where you and your family can camp out for a while. People generate a lot of heat, so a group of people in one room will lessen the load on any portable heaters you’re using. If you plan on using other rooms soon (like you’re headed to bed), just move heaters into the new room an hour before you plan on leaving the already-warmed area. As one room cools off, the next will warm up.

Take an Impromptu Staycation!

If all else fails and you won’t be able to get your furnace fixed and heat restored promptly, consider spending a night or two with friends or family, or at a hotel. This isn’t always feasible, but in some situations, like during a long-term winter power outage, it may be the safest and simplest way to stay warm.

Man calling for help after attempting DIY furnace repair

Top Reasons To Avoid DIY Furnace Repair

Doing repairs around your home by yourself can save you money, but there are times when they should be avoided.  In the case of DIY furnace repair it could even be dangerous.

Here is some information on reasons to avoid taking on furnace repairs yourself, and what you can do instead.

Reasons to avoid DIY furnace repair

Often, we’re tempted to find a video on YouTube, and attempt repairs ourselves, even with no prior experience. In many cases it’ll work out for you. But DIY furnace repair can lead to expensive issues that will be costly to fix. In a worst-case scenario you could risk a fire or injury.

One of the main reasons that homeowners should avoid trying to fix a furnace relates to carbon monoxide poisoning and inhaling toxic gases. If you get it wrong, it’s possible you will release toxic or flammable gas into your home. There are also electrical furnace components that can be dangerous if not handled by a qualified furnace repair technician.

Homeowner’s insurance policies require inspections

When you are applying for a homeowner’s insurance policy or having your current one updated, you will need to show you are taking care of your home. One of the keys is to have regular inspections and maintenance of all of your home’s equipment. Unfortunately, if you do not have proof that you have had your home safeguarded against major claims related to fires, you could lose your coverage. Since faulty furnaces can cause fires and lead to other major damage in the home, insurance companies will not favor a homeowner that does not keep the paperwork up-to-date. For instance, a homeowner may be more likely to file a claim because their pipes froze due to a poorly-maintained furnace that stopped operating.

DIY repairs could make selling your home difficult

When a homeowner puts their residence on the market, the next buyer may not be impressed by a lack of paperwork showing that the real estate is a good investment. One of the ways that homeowners can prove they have been taking care of the property they are selling is by providing documentation that the home has been regularly serviced by contractors. For instance, having regular inspections and maintenance of a furnace will be essential to showing the next homeowner that your real estate will not need any major repairs or replacements in the next five years.

If there is a fire, your furnace could be considered suspicious

If your home experiences a fire, one of the first steps is to have the fire department inspector come to see if there are any clues about what started the fire. Sadly, some homeowners find out that they lost their property due to simple mistakes that could have been avoided. In the end, some homeowners find out the hard way that regularly scheduled inspections and maintenance were a better idea than DIY furnace repair.

DIY furnace repairs that are safe for homeowners

Although most furnace repairs need to be left to professionals, there are a few routine jobs that can help reduce utility bills and they can be performed by the homeowners. One of the most common furnace tasks is changing the filters regularly. A second task that homeowners can stay on top of is checking the thermostat to see if it can be lowered. Finally, homeowners can greatly improve the longevity of their furnace by installing a smarthome thermostat that is regularly monitored on an app. Overtime, homeowners will use the smarthome app to adjust the amount of energy their furnace is using throughout the day, and this means it is not working as hard.

Let us help you keep your furnace safe this winter

Instead of buying tools and watching videos on the internet, it is easier and cheaper to call us to help you get your furnace in working order for this winter. Once we do a inspection, we let you know before we get started if you need repairs. In order to help our customers, we have transparent pricing and we also have advice about installation of new furnaces. To let us start helping you today, give us a call.