What to do when your furnace gives you the cold shoulder

Three quick furnace fixes you can do yourself


We’re pretty fortunate in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver to live in a temperate climate, where extremes in heat and cold generally don’t cause us grief.

That is, until the power goes out, or our furnace acts up.

There’s nothing more annoying than waking up to a cold house — especially if you expected your furnace to be humming along, supplying a warm indoor climate that you’ve always taken for granted.

If you thought your teenagers were grumpy before, try getting them up for school when there’s no welcoming warmth to coax them out of bed.

The first thing to do— is not panic.

The folks at Gandy have seen several scenarios where simple “operator error” had inadvertently turned the furnace off or disabled it temporarily.

You can become the hero of the family by following a few quick troubleshooting steps. If they don’t work, give us a call, and our trained technicians will get your furnace up and running again.

The first place to look into is very simple. Check around and inside the mechanical room where the furnace is located for the power switch. It’s generally a switch that is commonly mistaken for a light switch. It’s usually higher up the wall than a typical light switch. If it’s on the “off” (down) position, turn it up.

If the switch is in the normal ‘on’ position, then check your breakers. It’s possible the breaker has been tripped.

Breakers are electrical switches that disconnect circuits in the event of an electrical surge.  Most breaker boxes are located in basements, utility rooms, closets or laundry rooms. Look for a metal door several feet from the floor. Open the breaker box door and look for the breaker in the “off” position. Most breakers come with an orange or red marker indicating a tripped breaker. This is normally a breaker with a switch pointing in the direction opposite the others. If your breaker box is properly marked, you should see one breaker with a “furnace” marking in pen. Reset the breaker by pushing the switch into the on position to reconnect your circuit and restore power. Regular power disconnections could be caused by other electrical issues. Call a professional if you’re experiencing routine breaker overloads. If it’s consistently the furnace causing an overload, give us a call.

We’re pretty sure you went to the thermostat first, and turned up the heat, only to find that nothing happened. However, now it’s time to really take a second look at your thermostat. Modern, more programmable thermostats have multiple settings depending on your comfort choices, and season. It is possible that the thermostat was tampered with at some point, and is set to a cooling cycle, when you’re looking for heat, or if it’s summer, it was set for heat when you’re looking for a cooling cycle.

One of the most common problems is short cycling. During cooler months — (in the Lower Mainland, we’re talking late September to May), we find issues with furnaces being set to a comfortable 22c, and then after four or five minutes the heat registers stop blowing warm air. It does this repeatedly and never actually heats the home properly.

Short cycling happens for a few reasons, but one of the most common is a dirty or clogged air filter.  If your filter is dirty, air cannot pass over the heat exchanger, causing the system to overheat and shut down permanently. Before calling Gandy, check your air filter and wash it (if it’s washable) or change it if it is dirty, clogged, or fits improperly. In general, it’s a great idea to check your air filter monthly for dirt buildup and wash or replace it if it’s dirty or clogged. Not only will it keep your furnace in top operating condition, but it will improve the general air quality of your home, as it reduces the amount of dust that’s been trapped in your air filter re-entering your home.


If the problem persists after checking your air filter, thermostat, and furnace switch, then it is time to call the professionals at Gandy Installations.

For over 60 years and three generations, Gandy Installations has been proudly serving the Fraser Valley area for their residential and commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning needs. They stake their reputation on the thousands of happy customers who trust the folks at Gandy to put their family’s comfort first.

Remember — we’re here for you literally 24 hrs — 365 days a year. If you have any questions about what to do when your furnace stops working, the best way to save on your heating and cooling costs, or any home comfort related question, give the friendly folks at Gandy a call at 604-543-5555 or contact us at our website.