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airheatman, HVAC Technician
Category: HVAC
Satisfied Customers: 8326
Experience:  Furnace, A/C and heat pump specialist.
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My daughter (in America; I am in Malaysia) is having a problem

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My daughter (in America; I am in Malaysia) is having a problem with her thermostat or furnace. Both are older. The thermostat is a Honeywell model, but she insists it has no "fan on/off auto" switch(es). Might she be correct, and if so, how does one ensure that the fan is functioning?
Hello. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'll do my best to help. Troubleshooting often requires meters and test equipment. Let's get started and see what we can do.
Will need a bit more information . If she has no fan on or auto switch it is likely she may have a pilot on the furnace that will manually need to be lit. Do you if this is a central furnace? Is this a gas furnace?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

This is a gas furnace, but the pilot SHOULD already be lit. I have asked her to try to see whether it is on. There is no central air, so there is no cooling involved, only heating.

OK Can she do some hands on troubleshooting to determine if issue is with the furnace or thermostat?
If so, have her disconnect the two wires from thermostat and touch them together and see if furnace will come on. If so, the issue is in thermostat.If not issue is in furnace. We will go from there.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Especially since I am roughly 10,000 miles away and she has never tried anything like that, I am very hesitant to have her do that. I was hoping there might be some even simpler things to try, but if not I'm just going to have to "bite the bullet" and have a service technician actually go out to the house. I realize it's probably impossible for you to do more without more information.


I was just a bit surprised that the thermostat has no "fan on/off auto" switch. I assume this indicates an older model?

Many of the older thermostats did not have a sub base with switches when installed as "heat only" units.Turning the thermostat up on the dial makes the contacts on the thermostat. Will be more than happy to assist, but only of course with what she is comfortable doing.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, I understand the difficulty on your part. (And think about me, I'm 10,000 miles away.) I did have her look for a sticker indicating when the furnace was installed. It was 1990, with repair work in 2003. So definitely an older furnace! She cannot tell whether the pilot is lit (and I'm hesitant to have her remove a cover that she may not be able to put back). I should probably just have her call the number listed on the furnace for "who to call for service".

I totally understand. Just let me know if she wants to attempt some hands on troubleshooting.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

If I were there to guide her, I think it would be a perfect time for her to start (something I should already have done, before heading for Malaysia). Thankfully, it's early enough in the heating season not to be a crisis. I will just figure you have done all you can will the limited information, and call (or have her call) a technician. It probably would be good to have the furnace checked out anyway. (Might even be time to start thinking about replacement ... though I'd rather not, if possible.) Thanks for your efforts.

Thanks for allowing me to work with you. And yes at the age of furnace, definitely would be a good idea to have it serviced by a professional before lighting and entering heating season.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

As far as I know, the pilot does not have to be lit each season but burns continuous even when the furnace is not in use. The furnace worked the last two winters, without any lighting (or re-lighting) of the pilot. So unless the pilot light has gone out, it should be burning. Trouble is, she cannot see whether it is, and does not want to remove a panel she's unsure about putting back.

Often the pilot will go out during off season if flame gets drawn away from thermocouple or if thermocouple builds up with carbon. Our first step would be to verify that pilot is on. If she can jump out the wires as mentioned earlier and furnace comes on, we will know pilot is lit and issue is in thermostat. Otherwise we need to either remove panels and check to see if it is lit and light it if not or it will be necessary to call someone in. A.also if you ave someone else you can get to take a look who feels more comfortable, we can continue at that point.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have decided it makes sense to have someone come in anyway. I don't know how long it's been since the furnace was serviced. (I bought the place in February of 2012, so not since then.) But I appreciate your efforts to solve the problem, and figure you deserve the money. If you do not object, I will give you a rating of "good". I certainly feel you did as much as possible given the limited info, but I also don't feel comfortable with "excellent" when the problem cannot be solved -- though, again, I realize that is not your fault. I will wait for your response before I rate, in case a rating other than "excellent" will be a problem for you.

That is fine. Thanks for allowing me to work with you on this. I do think it is a good idea having it serviced. I recommend checking gas appliances each year before season starts just for safety reasons.Thanks again
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