Waking up to a freezing cold house is no fun! There's never an ideal time for your furnace to go out, but smack dab in the middle of a polar vortex is definitely not a problem you want to deal with. Here are four things to check if you find yourself in this situation.
Is The Furnace On?
The first thing to check is to make sure the furnace is actually turned on. Some furnaces have a switch directly on the furnace itself. Others have a separate switch, which is usually located on the nearest wall. Either way, the switches generally look like normal light switches. A wall switch is very easy to inadvertently shut off. If you find it has been accidentally switched off, simply flip the switch and wait a few minutes for the furnace to kick in.
Check The Circuit Breaker
Even if you heat with gas or oil, your furnace still requires electricity to operate. If the furnace switch was on, go open your circuit breaker panel and see if the switch has been tripped. If so, switch it back on, and within a minute or two, the furnace should start back up again. If your switch was tripped and it immediately trips again when you return it to the "on" position, leave it off. You will need to call a heating contractor to come and see what is going on. Do not keep trying to reset it, no matter how cold you are; this could lead to a fire.
Is The Thermostat On?
Just like the furnace, the thermostat can easily be accidentally switched off or bumped so that it is set to the lowest possible temperature. Digitally programmed thermostats can sometimes reset themselves to the default temperature, especially if there was a recent power outage. Make sure thermostat is set to "heat" rather than "cool," and crank the heat to see if it kicks in. The thermostat can also burn itself out, and if it isn't working, it's not telling your furnace to turn on. You will need a heating contractor to install a new thermostat if this is the case.
Have You Changed The Air Filters?
Air filters need to be regularly changed. If they become dirty and clogged, most newer furnaces will automatically shut the system down as a safety mechanism. Change the filter and see if that makes a difference.
If none of these tips gets your furnace going again, it's time to call a heating professional to come and take a look. You can keep warm while you wait by adding extra layers, using a heating pad or electric blanket, and baking something in the oven.