Furnace Doesn’t Work

Problem: Furnace is dead, or doesn’t turn on when the thermostat is raised.

Background: What are often thought to be furnace emergencies are caused by the thermostat being set or operated wrong, by having the power to the furnace cut off, or by not having fuel or a working pilot light. (Important: If you detect gas odor in your home or in the furnace area, take immediate precautions.

What to do: First double-check to be sure that power is reaching the furnace. Check the circuit breakers or fuses at the main service box. If reset breakers or replaced fuses blow again, call a service technician. Also check to see that any switches on or near the furnace are turned on. Be sure that the thermostat is set in the “heat” position, and that it is set above room temperature. If the furnace doesn’t come on after an interval, check the furnace itself. If you have a gas furnace, the gas valve should be turned to “on.” If you have an oil furnace, check the fuel level in the tank. If the furnace has a pilot light, check to make sure that it is lit. If not, relight it carefully, following the instructions in the owner’s manual or on the unit.

(Warning: If you smell gas, leave the area immediately and call a technician. The lighting instructions for a gas furnace should explain the procedure to use to determine whether the gas valve is good. If the test procedure indicates the gas valve is bad, turn off furnace gas valve and main gas valve and call a technician. Also call for help if the pilot light does not stay lit after several tries.)

Special advice: Most furnace controls will have a reset switch. If the furnace starts after the reset switch is pushed, but shuts off again, call a technician. Gas furnaces equipped with an electronic ignition device, instead of a pilot light, have a gas valve designed for slow opening. It first opens part way to let just enough gas through for safe ignition of the burners. After a few seconds it opens fully to allow proper flame height. The burners should light within 2 seconds after the gas valve opens. If air in the valve and lines prevents the flame from being established within 6 seconds or so, the system will go into “lock-out.” To reset, wait 1 minute and turn the thermostat to a setting below room temperature. Then turn back up to a setting above room temperature; this should re-start the ignition cycle.

Helpful hint: If the furnace works, but heat is not circulating, the problem may be with the blower or the blower belt. If the flame on burner is yellow or blue, or lifts off of the burner, call for a technician to adjust. Check your owner’s manual for annual maintenance suggestions and keep the furnace and its components free of lint or dirt accumulation.




Remove the furniture and wall hangings or place them in the center of the room, and cover with a drop cloth. Remove light fixtures from the walls if possible, and cover outlets with plastic bags. Cover the floor with a drop cloth. Now clean and prepare the surfaces to be painted. The ceiling should be the starting point, and then work across the walls. Paint the woodwork last.


Ideal for walls and ceilings, latex is available as a matte or silk finish. It is water soluble and dries quickly.

1. Work in areas of 2 sq ft (60 sq cm) in light, crisscross strokes. Do not apply the paint too thickly.

2. Finish with an upward stroke. Move to the adjacent area. Do not apply more coats until the first coat is dry.

Electric Blanket Doesn’t Work

Problem: Electric blanket doesn’t seem to be heating properly.

Background: Electric blankets that are not operating should be returned to the store from which they were purchased. Often, however, they may not operate properly because something is interfering with the control’s ability to gauge the room temperature and properly control the blanket’s warmth.

What to do: To troubleshoot with an electric blanket, first check the outlet and all connections. Be sure the wired portion of the blanket is not tucked in under the mattress or bed slat, and that it is not crimped against the wall or footboard. This will cause the safety thermostats to shut off. The blanket also may not operate if the average room temperature is much above 72°. Check to be sure the control is not covered by another blanket, sheet, or spread. Also while in use, avoid laying books or heavy items on the blanket, don’t sit on it, and don’t cover it with another blanket or bedspread.

Special advice: To test an electric blanket to see if it is operating, fold the blanket, connect the control, and plug it into the outlet. Turn the control to high and wait 10 minutes. You should be able to feel its warmth when you put your hand between the folds.

Helpful hint: Avoid folding the blanket when it is in use, do not use it for infants, disabled persons, or anyone sensitive to heat. Always turn an electric blanket off when not in use. Also, if a dual-control blanket doesn’t seem to work, check to make sure it is not turned over, causing the control on one side to operate the blanket on the opposite side, and vice versa.