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

Regardless of the problem, knowing how your heating system works and a little bit about some frequent furnace problems is essential in deciding whether you can troubleshoot on your own or if you need professional services. By monitoring the furnace's behavior, listening for peculiar noises and checking for signs of damage or blockage, you can narrow down the possible causes.

If you're unsure about the problem or lack the necessary skills and tools, it's best to call a professional HVAC company like 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning. We can accurately identify the issue and complete the required repairs or maintenance, so we can get your furnace ready to go ASAP.

Here's more about what causes a furnace to leak water and eight other frequent heating issues:

1. The Furnace Is Leaking

A furnace can leak water for many 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 blocked condensate drain line or a broken condensate pump. Another potential cause of water leakage from a furnace is a cracked heat exchanger, which can be responsible for water—as well as dangerous gases—coming out of the furnace.

It is imperative to manage water leaks immediately to prevent more damage to your furnace. Reaching out to a professional HVAC technician like the crew at 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning is recommended to diagnose and resolve the issue successfully.

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

Some likely 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 is also possible your furnace is overheating and shutting off as a safety measure.

If your furnace does not blow hot air, it's best to contact a professional HVAC technician to diagnose and fix the problem. They can offer an accurate assessment and suggest the correct 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 lower efficiency. Another reason your furnace is struggling is because it’s not powerful enough for your home, so it can’t generate enough heat to adequately warm the space. A defective thermostat or ductwork problems can also cause insufficient heating.

To address this, first look at your home’s insulation level and make sure it’s enough to keep warm air in and cold air out of your home. Also, examine the thermostat to ensure it’s set right and the batteries are working.

If the problem continues, consider calling an experienced HVAC company, such as 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning, who can assess your system, determine the root cause and provide solutions such as furnace replacement, repairing ductwork or modifying your thermostat settings.

4. My Furnace Is Not Working

If your furnace is not working, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot before calling a pro. Check if the thermostat is set right and the batteries are not dead. If the furnace still doesn't start, check the circuit breaker or fuse box to make sure power is reaching the furnace.

If there is power but your furnace won't blow hot air, the problem may lie with the ignition system or gas supply. In that case, it's a good idea to reach out to a seasoned HVAC professional for diagnosis and repair.

5. My Furnace Short Cycles

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 is designed to do. This can cause inefficiency, increased energy consumption and potential damage to your furnace.

If you think your furnace is short cycling, the first step is to pull out your unit’s air filter. Filters should be switched out when they are dirty to ensure air flow, so if your furnace air filter is plugged with dirt you should exchange it for a clean one—and make sure it is pointing in the right direction. If that doesn’t do the trick, look at 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 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning. Immediate 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 Hums All the Time

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

If the noise doesn't go away, it is better that you  contact a professional HVAC technician.

7. My Furnace Makes Loud Noises

If your furnace is producing 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 generate a grinding or screeching sound. Another possible cause is a loose or worn-out belt that may produce a squealing or rattling noise.

Because of the complexity of furnace systems and potential risks involved, it's safer to get a hold of a heating and cooling specialist.

8. My Furnace Won't Start

If your furnace refuses to turn on, make sure the thermostat is set to the desired temperature, is in heating mode and the batteries are functioning. Then, verify that the circuit breaker or fuse that controls the furnace is sending power to the unit. If these basic checks don't address the problem, you can inspect the furnace's power switch or emergency shutoff switch to verify they're in the "on" position and weren’t accidentally turned off.

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

9. My Furnace Is Not Igniting

Much like 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 the air filter and taking a peek at your circuit breakers are a good place to start.

Other potential causes of a furnace not igniting could be a faulty igniter or nonfunctional flame sensor. Signs of these include the furnace repeatedly attempting 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 very easily fixed by HVAC specialists like the team at 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning.