How to Prevent Furnace Breakdown in the Middle of Winter

It is that time of year again when millions of Canadians deal with below-zero temperatures. With the cold weather creeping in, you want to ensure that your home stays cozy and warm by turning on your furnace. During the winter season, residential furnaces work overtime to keep your home warm.

Few things are worse than a broken furnace in the middle of winter. A furnace breakdown is not only serious but also a common problem during the cold months. When the temperatures drop under 5 °F (-15 °C), furnace technicians in Ontario report a 24% spike in service calls. Routine furnace maintenance is key to preventing unexpected furnace breakdowns.

Common Causes of Furnace Breakdown

Check and replace dirty air filters regularly

  • Ignition Failure
    Ignition failure is a common problem in both electric and modern gas furnaces, which prevents the heating cycle from starting. A professional furnace technician can help resolve this problem easily.
  • Lack of Maintenance
    Wear and tear due to dirt and debris build-up is among the leading causes of furnace breakdowns and problems. Regular furnace maintenance, including occasional duct cleaning, should be performed by a technician. This prevents various issues and extends the lifespan of the heating equipment.
  • Problems with the Gas Line
    Gas furnace owners should get the gas lines checked regularly by a professional. A problematic gas supply line can impede the flow of fuel needed to warm your home. Several factors may cause problems with the gas line. However, never attempt to check the gas line on your own as it can be dangerous.
  • Broken Belts or Motors
    Mechanical problems due to wear and tear can prevent the furnace from functioning properly. For instance, the furnace stops blowing warm air through your home because of broken belts, bearings, and motors. In case of broken mechanical components, have them repaired or replaced by a professional immediately.
  • Dirty Air Filters
    A dirty air filter is one of the most common furnace problems, yet the easiest to fix. If you notice cold air blowing through your home, it indicates you have clogged air filters. It also causes the furnace to work harder than usual to circulate air. To prevent lasting damage to the unit, be sure to replace them regularly or use reusable air filters that you can clean.
  • Blown Breaker
    A furnace can break down due to a tripped or blown circuit fuse breaker. To determine the problem, check the breaker panel and the switch marked furnace. Flip the breaker switch back and forth to reset it and then set it on. If it still does not work, there may be a problem with the wiring.

Tips to Help Furnace Work Properly During Winter

Regular maintenance ensures your furnace is in tip-top shape

To keep your furnace in good working order throughout the winter, here are several maintenance tips to help prepare your heating equipment.

  • Start your maintenance early
    The last thing you want to happen on a cold freezing night is a spontaneous furnace failure. However, you can prevent it from happening through furnace maintenance before the cold months arrive. Annual furnace servicing will give you plenty of opportunities to detect potential problems and fix them as soon as possible.
  • Turn on the thermostat
    Switch the thermostat to heating and set its temperature a few degrees higher than the current room temperature. If you do not feel the heat within a minute, remove the cover and check the wire connections. If the connections are secure, check if the power source to the HVAC system is on. If all else fails, inspect the furnace blower, fan, or heat pump. To fix a problematic thermostat safely and effectively, call in a professional.
  • Keep your air filters clean
    Unlike other furnace problems, replacing or cleaning the furnace air filter is an easy part of home furnace maintenance. You can do this yourself to prevent a breakdown during the winter season. A furnace with a dirty filter will eventually result in a system breakdown as it restricts airflow and forces the heating machine to work harder than it needs to. Checking the filter is crucial during the winter season since the furnace is running almost 24/7 and dirt particles can accumulate quickly.
  • Clean the heat exchanger
    Hire a professional furnace technician to brush and vacuum the heat exchanger annually while the unit is still not in use. This enables the technician to inspect the heating appliance for signs of cracks, which can potentially cause leakage of carbon monoxide into your home.


  • Clear the drainage tube
    Heat causes natural gas and propane furnaces to generate small amounts of water. While some of the liquid is expelled as exhaust steam, the rest flows from the power exhaust manifold to the drip pan, which is shared with the air conditioning system. When the drainage tube becomes clogged, it causes the water to fill the manifold. This triggers the flame sensor to shut the system down. To clear the drainage tube, detach it from the manifold and blast compressed air through the tube and drain pipe. Another way to prevent a filmy buildup within the tube is pouring a cup of white vinegar through the drain tube and pipe.
  • Lubricate and clean the blower motor
    Refer to the owner’s manual to check if the furnace motor requires lubrication. If it does, to turn it off, take off the cover, and clean the caps that cover the bearing. Remove the caps and start lubricating the bearing.
  • Clean the flame sensor
    When dirt accumulates on the flame sensor in the gas furnace, it stops the unit from working altogether. For the heating appliance to work properly, especially during the middle of the winter, clean it at least once a month. Unscrew the flame sensor, hold it at the bottom, and use an emery cloth to clean the sensor.
  • Get annual furnace maintenance
    Lack of maintenance and cleaning is the leading cause of furnace breakdown. To ensure that your furnace is in top condition during the winter season, contact a professional technician to check, service, and clean the appliance. Annual maintenance is the best solution to prevent unexpected breakdowns. When you experienced complex furnace problems, troubleshooting the equipment should be left to the professionals. With regular annual maintenance, you do not have to wonder what to do if your furnace stops working in winter because you will have peace of mind knowing that your heating system is running as safely and efficiently as possible.

Hiring a certified furnace technician eliminates the risk of unnecessary furnace breakdowns due to poor installation and improper maintenance. Call Abundant Air at (204) 674-4568 for 24/7 furnace repair in Winnipeg.

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