Don’t get stuck in the cold. Steps to take when your furnace breaks down.

ice damming

We’ve been experiencing frigid temperatures this winter and the cold weather shows no sign of slowing down. When the mercury dips, that’s often when furnaces have issues or break down. Last winter in Ontario, when the temperature fell below -15°C, we saw a steep increase in heating system calls compared to days when the temperature was -14°C or warmer.


While it’s important to have your furnace maintained regularly in order to prevent future problems from occurring, furnace breakdowns that happen unexpectedly can disrupt your life. Here are five steps to take if you realize your furnace may not be working properly:


Step one: know the warning signs. Keep your eyes and ears out for signs that may signal your furnace is on the verge of breaking down: strange noises, frequent cycling, leaks and trouble reaching set temperature.


How to know when you need to replace your old equipment.


Step two: check the power. Your furnace needs electricity to run, so check to make sure the breaker is on at the panel. As well, check that your thermostat batteries (if you have them) are good. Some thermostat screens will display “Lo Bat” if the batteries need replacing.


Step three: change your furnace filter. Filters clogged with dust and debris put a furnace at risk of shutting down. It’s best to replace filters every three months to help air flow through your system and ensure your furnace isn’t being over worked.

DC - Filter - 3

Step four: hire an expert. If your furnace does break down and you get stuck in the cold, call a highly-trained technician to properly inspect and service your heating equipment to get it working again fast.

Direct Energy Technician

Step five: stay warm. Direct Energy technicians can be there as fast as the same day when you have a breakdown, but to stay warm while you wait make sure windows are closed properly, close off unused rooms and bundle up!


As always, it’s important to schedule a furnace inspection before winter hits from a professionally-trained technician to diagnose problem areas and detect potential issues with parts like the ignition, motor, belts or bearings that could cause a potential breakdown.


Stay warm!


You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Don’t get stuck in the cold. Steps to take when your furnace breaks down.”

  1. TOMSIMMONDS says:

    the best furnace is one with the least amount of moving parts and integrated circuits/computers etc…
    Our bungalow was built in 1942 and in that build included a hot water heater furnace with radiators to distribute the hot water and a single pump to do this act.
    The furnace has two Honeywell controls to tell the furnaces single gas burner to turn on and off.
    The furnace would be still working this very day if the house hadn’t been demolished when we sold it in 2006.
    So why don’t they still make furnaces this simple??

    • Dave says:

      Hi Tom,

      You are correct that furnaces aren’t as simple as they used to be however new furnaces waste very little of the heat they produce which wasn’t the case back in 1942. As of January 1, 2007, all furnaces installed must meet a minimum requirement of 90% AFUE. Here is a link to the NrCan website with full details.

      Boilers too are far more efficient than in the past which would probably be what you had. The new units are condensing boilers which mean they burn the fuel more efficiently thus saving money.

      Great question Tom. Thanks for asking.


Leave a Reply

® Direct Energy, Simple.Friendly.Direct and the Lightning Bolt design are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Direct Energy Marketing Limited in the United States and/or Canada. Use of such trademarks has been licensed by Direct Energy Marketing Limited to its various subsidiaries and affiliates.
© 2010 Direct Energy Marketing Limited, a subsidiary of Centrica plc. Centrica was created following the demerger of British Gas plc in 1997 and is now a leading supplier of energy and related services. To read more about Centrica plc please visit Direct Energy Marketing Limited, under the name Direct Energy, is licensed to market natural gas in Ontario under Ontario Energy Board gas marketing license #GM-2009-0058 and to market electricity in Ontario under the Ontario Energy Board electricity retailing license #ER-2005-0226. Direct Energy is not affiliated with any regulated gas or electricity distributor.
™Enercare and the design are trademarks of Enercare Inc., used under license.