With winter settling in, there’s nothing quite as important as a reliable furnace. But what if your furnace gives up the ghost, leaving you without heat? Should you turn it off until you can get it fixed, or leave it running to eke out some warmth? In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of shutting down a malfunctioning furnace, to help you decide what’s best for your home and your wallet. So don’t let a broken furnace leave you out in the cold – let’s dive in.

1. Signs Your Furnace is Not Working Properly

If you’re experiencing any of the following problems with your furnace, it might be time to turn it off and start troubleshooting the issue:

No Heat

The most obvious sign that your furnace isn’t working properly is if it’s not heating your home. If your furnace is running but blowing cold air or not blowing at all, there may be an issue with your pilot light or air filter.

Weird Noises

If you hear strange rattling or banging noises coming from your furnace, it might be a sign that there’s a loose part or a problem with your blower motor. These issues can quickly escalate if left unattended, and could result in a total breakdown of your furnace.

Short Cycling

If your furnace is turning on and off frequently, this could be a sign of a faulty thermostat or a clogged air filter. Short cycling not only wastes energy, but it can also put extra strain on your furnace, leading to a shortened lifespan.

Unusual Smells

If you smell gas or a musty odor coming from your furnace, turn it off immediately and call a professional. These smells could indicate a gas leak or mold growth, both of which can be hazardous to your health.

By paying attention to these warning signs, you can prevent further damage to your furnace and keep your home safe and comfortable.

2. Reasons Why Turning Off a Faulty Furnace May Be Beneficial

Should I Turn My Furnace Off If It’s Not Working?

If you’ve noticed that your furnace is not working properly, you may be wondering whether it’s a good idea to turn it off until it can be repaired. In some cases, turning off a faulty furnace can be beneficial. Below are some reasons why:

  1. Energy Savings: A furnace that’s not working properly may continue to run, using up energy without effectively heating your home. Turning off the furnace can help you save on energy costs until the unit is repaired.
  2. Prevents Further Damage: If your furnace is not functioning correctly, leaving it on can cause additional damage to the unit. Turning it off can prevent further wear and tear on the furnace, saving you money on costly repairs down the line.
  3. Safety: If your furnace is showing any signs of a gas leak or carbon monoxide (CO) leak, turning it off immediately is crucial for your safety. CO poisoning can be fatal, and a gas leak can cause an explosion. So, if you smell gas or suspect a CO leak, turn off your furnace and evacuate your home immediately. Call your gas company and a licensed HVAC contractor to have your furnace inspected and repaired.

It’s important to note that turning off your furnace may not always be the best solution, depending on the nature and severity of the issue. Before making any decisions about turning off your furnace, be sure to go through the necessary steps to ensure your safety and consult with a licensed HVAC contractor for advice.

3. Potential Risks of Leaving a Faulty Furnace Running

Leaving a faulty furnace running can pose several risks to you and your family. It’s important to identify the potential hazards to avoid any safety issues.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
One of the most significant risks of leaving a faulty furnace running is carbon monoxide poisoning. Furnaces that are not working correctly can produce a dangerous gas called carbon monoxide. This gas is odorless and colorless, making it difficult to detect. If you breathe in carbon monoxide, it can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even death. Therefore, it’s critical to have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home.

Electrical Malfunctions
A faulty furnace that continues to run can result in electrical malfunctions. If your furnace is not working properly, it can cause electrical problems, such as short circuits or overheating. When this happens, it can cause a fire or damage to your electrical system.

Inefficient Heating
When you leave a faulty furnace running, it will not only struggle to heat your home effectively but also can waste energy. If your furnace is not functioning correctly, it may not deliver hot air, resulting in cold spots and high energy bills. Furthermore, your furnace could be working harder than necessary, using more energy and resources to heat your home.

In conclusion, leaving a faulty furnace running poses several risks to your home and family’s safety. If you notice any signs of a malfunctioning furnace, it’s crucial to turn it off and seek professional help.

4. Steps to Take Before Turning Your Furnace Off

Before you decide to turn off your furnace, there are some steps you should take to ensure that it is safe to do so. Taking these steps can help prevent potential hazards and further damage to your furnace.

Check the Air Filter

The first step is to check the air filter. Dirty or clogged filters can cause your furnace to overheat, which can lead to a fire hazard. If your filter is dirty, replace it immediately with a new one. Regularly changing your filter can also improve the efficiency of your furnace.

Inspect the Thermostat

The next step is to inspect your thermostat. Ensure that the thermostat is set to the correct temperature and mode of operation, such as heat or fan. If the thermostat is not working correctly, it can cause your furnace to malfunction. If this is the case, consider calling a professional to repair or replace the thermostat.

Check the Vents and Ducts

You should also check the vents and ducts to ensure that they are free from any blockages. Blockages can cause your furnace to work harder than it should, leading to a breakdown or damage to the furnace. Ensure that all vents are open and that air is flowing freely through them.

Taking these steps can help you determine if it is safe to turn off your furnace or if you need to call in a professional for repairs or replacement. Remember, safety should always come first when dealing with a faulty furnace.

5. Expert Advice: When to Call a Professional for Furnace Repair

When your furnace is not working properly, it can be tempting to try and fix the problem yourself. However, attempting to repair a faulty furnace can be dangerous and could potentially cause further damage. That’s why it’s important to know when to call a professional for furnace repair.

Warning Signs

If you notice any of the following warning signs, it’s best to call a professional immediately:

  • Strange sounds coming from the furnace
  • Difficulty starting or turning off the furnace
  • Inconsistent heating or cold spots in your home
  • Increased energy bills despite no changes in usage

Ignoring these warning signs can result in costly repairs or even a complete furnace breakdown.

Benefits of Professional Repair

Professional furnace repair offers several benefits, including:

  • Proper identification and diagnosis of the problem
  • Expertise and experience in repairing furnaces
  • Use of specialized tools and equipment
  • Warranty for repair work

Attempting to repair your furnace on your own could result in further damage or even injury. Leave it to the professionals for a safe and effective repair.

When to Consider Replacement

There may come a time where furnace repair is no longer an option, and replacement is necessary. Signs that it may be time for a new furnace include:

  • Frequent repairs and breakdowns
  • Old age (15-20 years)
  • Increased energy bills despite repairs
  • Decreased indoor air quality

A professional HVAC technician can help you determine if furnace replacement is the best option for your home.

Remember, when it comes to furnace repair, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and call in the professionals. Don’t let a faulty furnace put your home and family at risk.

6. Furnace Replacement Options: Is It Time for a New Unit?

As much as we want to hold on to our trusty furnaces, there will come a time when we need to let go and replace them with a new unit. Here are some factors to consider:

The Age of Your Furnace

One of the primary indicators that you need a new furnace is its age. The average lifespan of a furnace is between 15 to 20 years. If your furnace is nearing or already beyond this age range, it may be more cost-effective to replace it with a newer and more energy-efficient unit than to keep it running.

The Total Cost of Repairs

Another factor to consider when replacing your furnace is the total cost of repairs. Consider the amount of money you have spent on repairs over the last few years and compare it with the cost of a new furnace installation. If the cost of repairs is greater than 50% of the cost of a new furnace, then it may be time to replace your old unit.

The Energy Efficiency of Your Furnace

Lastly, you should consider the energy efficiency of your furnace. Older furnaces are typically less energy-efficient, meaning they consume more fuel to generate the same amount of heat. When you replace your old furnace with a more energy-efficient unit, you’re not only saving money on your heating bills but also reducing your environmental impact.


Replacing your furnace can be a significant investment, but it may be an investment that pays off in the long run. By considering the age of your furnace, the total cost of repairs, and the energy efficiency of your unit, you can make an informed decision whether to keep repairing or replace your old furnace with a new, more energy-efficient unit.

7. Tips for Keeping Your Furnace in Good Condition and Avoiding Future Breakdowns

In this section, we will discuss some practical tips that can help you maintain your furnace, keep it in good condition, and prevent any future breakdowns. By following these tips, you can ensure you have a comfortable and warm home during the cold winter months.

Regularly Inspect Your Furnace

One of the simplest things you can do to keep your furnace in good condition is to inspect it regularly. Look for any visible signs of damage, such as cracks, leaks, or wear and tear on the furnace components. Check the air filter and replace it if it’s dirty or clogged. Inspecting the furnace regularly can help you catch minor issues before they turn into major problems.

Keep the Area Around Your Furnace Clean

Dirt, dust and debris can accumulate around your furnace over time, causing it to malfunction. It’s important to keep the area around your furnace clean and free from clutter. Make sure there are no flammable materials in the vicinity, such as paper, chemicals or gasoline. Keep the furnace room free from clutter and ensure there is enough space around the unit for proper ventilation.

Schedule Regular Furnace Maintenance

Even if your furnace seems to be working fine, it’s recommended to schedule regular maintenance to keep it in top condition. A professional HVAC technician can perform a thorough inspection, clean the furnace, and replace any worn-out parts. Regular maintenance can help improve the efficiency of your furnace, lower energy bills, and prevent breakdowns.

Invest in a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat can help you manage your furnace more efficiently, reducing wear and tear on the unit. With a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature to adjust automatically according to your schedule, making it more convenient and energy-efficient. This can also help to avoid any sudden changes in temperature that can put extra strain on your furnace.

Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious risk that can occur when a furnace malfunctions. Unfortunately, carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be difficult to detect. Installing carbon monoxide detectors can help protect your family and alert you to any gas leaks from your furnace. Make sure to test the detectors regularly to ensure they are working correctly.

In conclusion, taking care of your furnace is crucial to ensure it works correctly and efficiently. By following these tips, you can help avoid future breakdowns, lower your energy bills, and keep your home warm and comfortable during the winter months.

People Also Ask

Can I leave my furnace off if it’s not working?

If your furnace is not working, it is recommended to turn it off to prevent further damage or safety hazards. It is best to wait for a professional to inspect and repair it.

What happens if I don’t turn off my furnace when it’s not working?

Leaving your furnace on when it is not working properly can cause further damage, increase energy bills, and pose safety hazards such as gas leaks or fires. It is important to turn it off and seek professional help.

Should I turn off my furnace if it’s making a strange noise?

If your furnace is making strange noises, it is recommended to turn it off and call a technician to inspect it. Continuing to use it can cause further damage or even lead to safety hazards.

Is it safe to keep my furnace on if it’s not heating?

If your furnace is not heating, it is recommended to turn it off until a technician can repair it. Continuing to use it can cause further damage or pose safety hazards such as gas leaks.

Can leaving the furnace on cause carbon monoxide poisoning?

If your furnace is not functioning properly, it can produce carbon monoxide which is dangerous and potentially deadly. It is important to have a functioning carbon monoxide detector and to turn off the furnace if it is not working.


In summary, it is important to turn off your furnace if it is not working properly to prevent further damage, increased energy bills, and safety hazards. It is recommended to seek professional help and not to use the furnace until it has been inspected and repaired.