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

Regardless of the problem, learning how your heating system works and a little bit about some frequent furnace problems is vital in deciding whether you can troubleshoot on your own or if you need professional services. By monitoring 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 not sure about the problem or aren't equipped with the necessary skills and tools, it's best to call a reputable HVAC company like Struven Heating & Cooling. We can accurately identify the issue and execute 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 frequent heating dilemmas:

1. My Furnace Is Leaking Water

A furnace can leak water for a number of reasons. One possibility is a condensate leak, where the water released during the combustion process is not completely draining away. This could be due to a clogged condensate drain line or a malfunctioning condensate pump. Another potential cause of water leakage from a furnace is a cracked heat exchanger, which can result in water—as well as dangerous gases—coming out of the furnace.

It is necessary to manage water leaks promptly to prevent additional damage to your furnace. Consulting with a professional HVAC technician like the crew at Struven Heating & Cooling is recommended to diagnose and resolve the issue properly.

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

Some potential causes for a furnace blowing cold air or not blowing hot air could be a malfunctioning thermostat, a problem with the pilot light or ignition system, a blocked air filter, or a malfunctioning heating element. It also may be your furnace is overheating and shutting off as a safety mechanism.

If your furnace won’t blow hot air, it's better to contact a professional HVAC tech to diagnose and fix the problem. They can provide an accurate assessment and advise you on the appropriate solution.

3. My Furnace Can't Keep Up

A frequent reason your furnace isn’t keeping up on a cold day is that your home doesn’t have enough insulation, which can lead to heat loss and decreased efficiency. Another reason your furnace is falling short is because it’s too small for your home, so it can’t generate enough heat to effectively warm the space. A broken thermostat or ductwork problems can also result in inconsistent heating.

To deal with this, first look at your home’s insulation level and make sure it’s enough to insulate your home. Also, examine the thermostat to see if it’s set right and the batteries are working.

If the problem continues, consider consulting with an experienced HVAC company, such as Struven Heating & Cooling, who can inspect your system, determine the root cause and provide solutions such as furnace replacement, repairing ductwork or adjusting your thermostat settings.

4. My Furnace Isn't Running at All

If your furnace is not working, there are some steps you can take to troubleshoot before calling a heating specialist. Ensure the thermostat is set right and the batteries are fresh. If the furnace still doesn't turn on, check the circuit breaker or fuse box to ensure power is reaching the unit.

If there is power but your furnace won't ignite, the problem may lie 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, it means it is turning on and off often at short intervals as opposed to running in regular cycles like it should. This can cause inefficiency, higher energy bills and potential damage to your heating system.

If you believe your furnace is short cycling, the first step is to pull out your unit’s air filter. Filters should be exchanged on a regular basis to ensure air flow, so if your furnace air filter is plugged with dirt you should exchange it for a clean one—and be sure it is pointing in the right direction. Second, look at your thermostat and make sure  it’s set right and the batteries are good.

If those two things don’t work, it’s smart to call experts like the team at Struven Heating & Cooling. Quick professional attention will help restore the proper functioning of your furnace and reduce the chance of additional 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 symptom of an issue with the electrical components or the blower motor. Because of this, if you notice your furnace making a humming noise, it is crucial to take action.

If the noise persists, it is better that you  contact a professional HVAC technician.

7. My Furnace Is Noisy

If your furnace is producing a constant loud noise, it's important to handle the issue promptly to prevent further damage or potential safety concerns.  One common cause of this is a malfunctioning blower motor or fan, which can create a grinding or screeching sound. Another possible cause is a loose or worn-out belt that may emit a squealing or rattling noise.

Given the complexity of furnace systems and potential risks involved, it's better to get in touch with a heating and cooling specialist.

8. My Furnace Can't Turn On

If your furnace refuses to turn on, make sure the thermostat is set to the right temperature, is in heating mode and the batteries are functioning. Then, see if the circuit breaker or fuse that controls the furnace is sending power to the unit. If these basic checks don't resolve the problem, you can inspect 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 get the job done, contact a heating specialist for furnace repair.

9. My Furnace Won't Ignite

Similar to a furnace not turning on at all, a furnace that isn’t igniting can be caused by a clogged air filter or a tripped circuit breaker. So, checking out the air filter and assessing your circuit breakers are a good place to start.

Other common causes of a furnace not igniting include a faulty igniter or nonfunctional flame sensor. Indications of these include the furnace repeatedly attempting to ignite without success, a lack of heat production or the furnace is making a burning or gas smell. Both of these issues can be easily solved by HVAC professionals like the team at Struven Heating & Cooling.