Why You Can’t Ignore Late Summer Air Conditioner Problems

Summer is winding down. Within another week or two, the kids will be back at school. Autumn is right around the corner. This means we have just a few more weeks of heat before temperatures begin to cool and the leaves change colors. It also means that some of you, whether you admit to it or not, are ignoring some type of problem with your home’s air conditioning system. There’s a strange noise coming from the unit. Some rooms aren’t cooling as well as others. Something just isn’t right and you know it.

You also know you’re putting it off. You’re justifying it for one reason or another. Perhaps money is tight. Or you might just be thinking to yourself, “Why schedule an AC repair now when I’m just 2 to 3 months away from possibly having to turn the furnace on?”

Well, there are a few reasons you shouldn’t shrug off an air conditioner problem this time of year – here are several.

The Hot Weather Isn’t Over Yet

Pittsburgh weather isn’t predictable. A stretch of July or August-like hot temperatures in September or October isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Needless to say, if your air conditioner isn’t optimally performing, there’s a very good chance it’ll fail you when you need it the most. Why take that chance? At the very least, if you suspect a problem, rather than cover up the unit for the winter; subsequently kicking that can down the road until May or June, why not get your yearly AC tuneup in September instead of next year? This way, it’s ready for that surprise stretch of hot weather around Halloween and primed for the Spring.

Small AC Problems Get Worse the Longer They’re Ignored

You really shouldn’t run an air conditioner if you sense any type of problem whatsoever. Any type of fault or malfunction will get progressively worse if you ignore it and continue to run the AC. There’s often a chain reaction effect when one component of a cooling system wears down. You may think you’re saving money by putting off a late summer AC repair, but you’re likely making that inevitable repair a far more expensive one by the time you call.

Higher Utility Bills if You Continue Running Your AC

If you run an air conditioner while it has a mechanical or electrical problem, the extra strain placed on the system drains more power. This results in a higher utility bill. Nobody wants to go into winter’s high gas bills with unnecessarily high electric bills in the late summer or fall.

Why not head into the fall knowing your air conditioner is ready for action whenever it’s needed again – even if that’s not until Spring? If you’re in the Pittsburgh area and you detect even the slightest potential issue with your Ac right now, get a top-notch tuneup from one of the best air conditioning contractors in town!

Project Spotlight: New High-End Luxury Home on Grandview Avenue in Mount Washington

Bill Reilly and the crew at Top Notch Heating & Air were pleased to be chosen by Senko Construction for HVAC installation at a newly-constructed luxury townhome on Grandview Avenue in Mount Washington.

This high-end single-family home, one of several Senko Construction is building along Grandview Avenue, is ideal for anyone wanting to live in one of Pittsburgh’s most visited neighborhoods.

Grandview Avenue runs the length of Mount Washington and provides many unique views of Pittsburgh’s breathtaking skyline. While there was interest in building apartment buildings, duplexes, condos, and even a boutique hotel along this street, it was decided single-family homes are what’s best for the neighborhood right now. Especially luxury homes like this one, which will include a scenic rooftop deck, small swimming pool, and jacuzzi tub.

In this video posted to YouTube, Bill Reilly takes us on a walkthrough of the property. Of course, Bill spotlights the ductwork and HVAC equipment installed – in this case, Trane heating and cooling systems – which the space was fit for. Air filtration and humidifiers were also part of the install. Being that this is a high-end home, nothing from an HVAC perspective was off the table.

Senko Construction – specializing in both residential and commercial construction – has built more than 50 townhomes in Pittsburgh neighborhoods such as the North Side, Lawrenceville, and Oakland. Their typical time to complete a build is eight to ten months. They are the owners, developers, and contractors on eight high-end single-family homes planned for the corner of Grandview Ave. and Merrimac St. – right at the top of P.J. McArdle Roadway.

Please check out the video. If you’re shopping for a luxury home in the Pittsburgh area, you absolutely must inquire about these high-end single-family homes designed by Hart Architectural Services and being built by Senko Construction. In addition to living along one of Pittsburgh’s premier tourist destinations, and having a view all of your guests will envy, you’re also just a short walk from the neighborhood’s business district on Shiloh Street – host to a number of restaurants and stops for ice cream, baked goods, or an ice-cold beer or refreshing cocktail at the end of a workday.

Here are more images from the project! And, don’t forget, if you are a homeowner, business owner, or a residential or commercial builder, choose Top Notch for the best HVAC in Pittsburgh!

7 Most Common Reasons for Air Conditioning Repairs

Is there anything more miserable than a hot and muggy August day under a gray Pittsburgh sky? How about coming home from work that day to a broken air conditioner?

Why chance your comfort this summer? As much as we at Top Notch love all yinz, so many of the emergency AC repair calls we get are preventable. People just aren’t familiar with the most common causes of air conditioner problems and how to be proactive with maintenance to prevent them.

So, we thought it would be helpful to talk about seven of the most common causes of air conditioner problems. You’ll see that many of these problems are preventable with routine maintenance.

Dirty Condenser Coils

Warm air inside your house is caught and released outside your house by your AC’s condenser coils. Condenser coils don’t work as well when they’re covered in dirt and grime. This impedes heat transfer. The unit has to work much harder to sufficiently cool your home. This increases wear and tear on parts, raises your utility bill, and ultimately leads to a complete system failure. While Pittsburgh is no longer the “smokey city” it once was, soot and pollution still fill the air. Dirty condenser coils are a very common cause for air conditioner repair in Pittsburgh.

Frozen Evaporator Coils

Refrigerant fills your AC’s evaporator coil. An air conditioner’s evaporator coil sucks up heat from the air – similar to how a sponge absorbs water. While it may sound weird, these coils only work properly if warm air circulates around them. If anything restricts airflow, ice may build up on the outer part of the coil. When this occurs, you might notice warm air – or no air at all – coming from registers.

Low Refrigerant

Your air conditioner relies on refrigerant to remove heat and humidity from the air inside your home. Sometimes leaks in the refrigerant lines will result in low refrigerant. When this happens, your AC loses its ability to effectively cool the air. Unfortunately, this AC repair is more complex than just replenishing the lost refrigerant. The source of the leak must first be detected. Any holes in lines must then be repaired. Sometimes there can even be multiple leaks. This makes for a time-consuming and often expensive air conditioner repair.

Fan Problems

To cool the air inside your home, a fan inside your air conditioner blows indoor air over the unit’s evaporator coil. At the same time, another fan expels heat from inside to the outside of the house through the outdoor unit’s condenser.

Several problems can keep either of these fans from working properly. Anything from a lack of lubrication to a faulty motor, worn belts, and a build up of dirt and debris. Anytime airflow is affected, as in the case of fan problems, many air conditioner problems can arise. Overlooking or neglecting these issues can result in a complete compressor failure, which is often fatal to an air conditioner unit.

Thermostat Problems

Believe it or not, there are still plenty of old Pittsburgh homes with dial-type thermostats. Sometimes these aren’t calibrated correctly. This means the control system doesn’t send the right instructions to the air conditioner. The fix can either be to replace or re-calibrate the thermostat.

The newer programmable thermostats aren’t without their hiccups either. Programming these thermostats can be tricky and result in them being set incorrectly.

While we certainly don’t mind visiting you, before calling us, check your thermostat’s manual to confirm the settings are correct. It’s a quick painless trip for us, but it can be a little embarrassing for the homeowner. However, it’s very common. Many air conditioner repair calls we get end up being nothing more than a thermostat’s settings. That said, many times the thermostat itself needs to be repaired or replaced.

Leaking Ducts

The cool air coming from your AC is carried throughout your house by the duct work running through your walls. Any break or hole in these ducts can trap all this coolness inside your walls. That does no one any good. It also makes your air conditioner work harder to cool your house to the thermostat’s setting. This spikes your energy consumption and utility bill.

Clogged Drains

Ever wonder what your AC does with all of that moisture it removes from the air? Well, ideally, it’s emitted into a pan and down the drain through a drain line. But problems arise when the drain or line gets clogged or the pan fills and a water backup damages the cooling system. Leaks can also cause significant property damage – potentially damaging your ceilings, walls, furniture, etc.


Don’t wait until your AC completely breaks down to get an HVAC tech to your house. A yearly AC tuneup should get your home’s central air in shape for the demands of summer.

  • Dirty air filters can be replaced too prevent frozen evaporator coils.
  • The condition of your ductwork can be assessed.
  • A modern programmable thermostat can be installed and controlled remotely with a tablet or smartphone. Bill or one of our Top Notch techs can even give you a brief tutorial so you’ll know how to use it.
  • A springtime air conditioner tune up lets us clear brush and debris from around the unit so the unit can more effectively expel heat.

If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, and you’d like an AC inspection and tune up each spring, it’s a relatively inexpensive maintenance call with short and long term monetary benefits.

Call 412-381-0598 or contact us online to schedule a spring time Pittsburgh air conditioner inspection and tuneup.

A Yearly Air Conditioner Check Up Pays Big Dividends

A yearly air conditioner check up is highly recommended to any homeowner. Is it absolutely necessary? No. Your AC might work just fine throughout the summer if you skip a preseason maintenance check. Your car may also run just fine if you drive it beyond 3,000 miles without an oil change. That doesn’t mean you should though. Annual AC tuneups maximize your investment and make financial sense for a number of reasons.

“Look at it this way. Think about how hard your air conditioner worked last summer. It has also sat all winter long, possibly exposed to the elements if it wasn’t properly covered. Air conditioner tuneups pay for themselves in a variety of direct and indirect savings,” says Bill Reilly, owner of Top Notch Heating & Cooling – a Pittsburgh AC contractor.

Here are several reasons you shouldn’t skip out on that annual air conditioner maintenance service!

A Spring Air Conditioner Tuneup Gives the Unit a Head Start

You’ve gone some time now without running your air conditioner. Can you really expect it to run at peak efficiency now that you’ll again be depending on it every day?

Would you just start up a car that’s been sitting in the driveway for six months and embark on a cross-country drive without first taking it to a mechanic?

Naturally, you’d consider getting an oil change, tuneup, and having the tired checked or rotated. You’d want to make sure the car was good to go before you hit the highway.

Scheduling spring time AC maintenance gets your system primed to keep you cool all summer long. Not only that, it helps ensure it runs efficiently, which helps keep your utility bills low.

Air Conditioner Maintenance Services Are Usually Less Expensive than Emergency Repairs

Sure, there’s no guarantee your air conditioner still won’t malfunction or conk out even after a tuneup. But, if a problem does arise this summer, we’d be willing to bet the repair will be less expensive than it would be had you skipped the tuneup.

From our experience, roughly half of the emergency AC repair calls we get could’ve been prevented with an annual checkup.

When we perform a yearly air conditioner maintenance service, small problems are often detected before there’s even a warning sign they exist. This keeps them from becoming bigger more expensive problems. This saves homeowners the higher cost – and bigger hassle – of calling for an emergency air conditioner repair when it’s 90 degrees in July.

Neglecting Regular AC Maintenance Could Void Your Warranty

Most new air conditioner installations come with a limited warranty from the manufacturer. One of the requirements from this warranty could be the upkeep of regular AC maintenance.

Many of these manufacturer warranties won’t cover the cost of replacement parts without routine maintenance checks from a HVAC professional.

Be sure to check your air conditioner’s warranty – specifically any section titled “Exclusions” or “Eligibility Requirements.”

You’ll Get More Years from a Well-Maintained Air Conditioner

Routine air conditioner maintenance results in fewer repairs over time. This also prolongs the lifespan of your AC unit. In contrast, by neglecting regular air conditioning maintenance, you’ll be reducing its lifespan.

Back to the car analogy, how long do you think a car would run if its owner never changed its oil and neglected all recommended maintenance? Meanwhile, someone who takes good care of his or her automobile will likely get miles and years from it.

A well-maintained air conditioner maximizes your investment. It also increases its operating efficiency, which can translate into lowering energy costs by as much as 15%.


Top Notch Heating & Cooling provide yearly air conditioner maintenance services to homeowners throughout the city of Pittsburgh and surrounding suburbs. Call 412-381-0598 or contact us online to schedule your annual Pittsburgh air conditioner check up or if you need an AC repair or AC installation.

Spring Forward With An Air Conditioning Tuneup

Springtime is the right time for an air conditioning tuneup. Many people wonder if they can perform an AC tuneup on their own. While most of us admittedly have a little bit of a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) attitude, it’s always good to pick your battles.

With in-home comfort and perhaps your manufacturer’s warranty at risk, fine-tuning your home’s AC for optimal summertime performance might be best left to the professionals.

Doing it yourself may result in more problems and necessitate more costly repairs in the end.

Annual air conditioner maintenance is important. For starters, the likelihood of your AC unit going on the fritz on a sweltering hot afternoon significantly decreases. Secondly, we all like extending the lifespan of any significant investment we make.

A yearly Pittsburgh air conditioner tuneup not only increases its seasonal dependability but also it’s durability as well.

Here are three reasons annual AC maintenance is a smart investment this spring

It Might Lower Your Utility Bill

Most people don’t notice their AC is no longer working until it completely shuts down. Then, when they look back, they realize there had been gradual warning signs for days, sometimes weeks, or even months.

The first thing a sick air conditioner will do is lose its ability to cool as effectively and efficiently as it needs to. You’ll notice you’re still hot after coming in from the outdoors. You’ll notice certain rooms in your house don’t feel as cool as they should. Perhaps it may even feel like your AC is blowing hot air.

If you’re like most people, your response to this lost cooling will be to lower the thermostat a few degrees. You’ll convince yourself this will power up the cooling. For a while, this approach may actually work. However, soon enough, it won’t help at all.

A common culprit of inadequate cooling is a dirty evaporator. If your air conditioner isn’t cooling at all, a dirty, blocked, or faulty condenser or inadequate refrigerant are the most likely sources.

A yearly inspection of the unit by a seasoned HVAC tech can identify the aforementioned issues before they even present problems. Saving you time, money, and securing your summer-long comfort indoors.

It May Benefit You & Your Family’s Health

The longer an AC goes without maintenance, the dirtier it gets. This dirt is distributed throughout your house anytime the AC runs. This can compromise you and your family’s health. Allergy sufferers will have problems. Chronic Rhinitis becomes unbearable. Even asthma attacks can be triggered by allergens like dust, dust mites, or pet dander spread throughout the house via the AC and ductwork.

Your AC May Already Be Crying for Help

While chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs) like Freon are no longer used in air conditioners, the elimination of that environmental pollutant has made way for another type of pollutant. Noise pollution. New energy efficient air conditioner units can make quite a bit of noise. Sometimes this noise is nothing to worry about. What you’re hearing is a machine doing its job.

But every now and then some noises can be telltale signs that something potentially more serious is going on. Sounds like buzzing, clicking, or rattling could actually be warning signs. A squeal or screaming sound is another major signal of distress that’s often related to the refrigerant. These are again scenarios that are completely preventable with yearly air conditioner maintenance in Pittsburgh.


Baseball season is approaching. Soon it will be time to Regatta and we’ll all be complaining about how miserably hot (and gray since it’s Pittsburgh) it is outside. Why not make sure your air conditioner is ready to handle the workload with a yearly AC tuneup from Top Notch Heating & Cooling. Call us at 412-381-0598 or reach out to us online to schedule your air conditioner inspection and cleaning.

Benefits of Replacing Your AC and Furnace at the Same Time

If you want year-round comfort in your home, it all comes down to the HVAC systems you choose to cool your home in the summer and warm your home in the winter.

When it comes time to replace a unit, it’s tempting to replace them one at a time. Most homeowners will replace the system that’s giving them the most trouble at the time. The one they’ll rely on the most in the next few months.

For example, if your furnace is on the fritz in December, you’ll want to install a new one ASAP with more blistering cold on the way. No different than how you’ll replace your home’s AC system if your current unit craps out in July with the heat and humidity of August still to come.

Few people stop to realize that they’d conserve more energy and save more money over the long haul if they replace both systems at the same time – even one that’s seen better days but is still working.

Here are a few reasons replacing your furnace and A/C systems at the same time will benefit your home and your wallet.

Energy Efficiency

The heating and cooling systems manufactured today are incredibly energy efficient – much more than the HVAC systems built just 10 to 15 years ago.

The SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating is how you’ll compare the efficiency of different air conditioning systems. The higher the SEER, the less energy it uses and the less it will cost to operate. Newer systems will have a SEER rating of 13 or higher. 13 is the government’s minimum standard for cooling systems.

Furnaces are measured by their AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). A unit with an AFUE of 90% or more is considered an energy efficient furnace system.

Did you know? Depending on the quality and efficiency of the unit, today’s furnaces will generally last you anywhere from 15 to 20 years; a central air conditioning system can last anywhere from 12 to 15 years.

Optimal Performance

Replacing just one component of your HVAC system can actually decrease the overall performance and efficiency of both your heating and cooling system.

For instance, if you install a new high-efficiency central AC, but you’re still hanging on to an older less-energy efficient furnace, you’re not getting the best bang for your buck from the newer more energy efficient system.

Think of your furnace and air conditioning system as a powerful one-two punch. Matched systems will complement one another. After all, your AC and furnace share the same air handler/blower. A matched system with an efficient handler will result in optimal system operation and home comfort.

Simply put, a matched system might cost you more right now but it will save you more in the long run. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Matched components will work in sync together for maximum efficiency.
  • Matching a new system with an older inefficient one can quite possibly decrease the lifespan of the new system you’ve just invested in.
  • When it comes to warranties, manufacturers aren’t required to honor warranties of new systems that break down during the warranty period if they were combined with an older system.

You also have to remember that both new systems will be under warranty, which will save you money if repairs are ever needed within a few years. That’s a luxury you won’t have if you have an old dated furnace in need or repairs every remaining year you rely on it.

Overall, new systems will require fewer repairs. Additionally, you’re likely to save money on installation by purchasing both systems together and having them installed by the same HVAC pro. For them, their job becomes much less complicated when installing both a new heating and cooling system at the same time.


If you’d like a comprehensive assessment of your current HVAC system and to go over your options for air conditioning or furnace replacement, contact Top Notch Heating & Air at 412-381-0598 or visit https://topnotchair.com. We specialize in both air conditioning and furnace installation in Pittsburgh.

4 Tips To Keep Your Furnace Working All Winter Long

Winter is coming. The leaves have changed colors. The kids have all adjusted to their normal daily school routine. Trick or Treat has concluded. We’ve turned our clocks back. Soon, everything pumpkin spice will be phased out for peppermint mocha and Michael Buble will re-emerge from the cave he resides in for 10 months of the year to usher in the Holiday shopping season.

Hopefully, by now, your central air conditioning has long been shut off and covered. Any window AC units of yours have been removed and stored away in the attic or basement. It’s furnace season. It’s time to crank up that heat. While most of you are already running your furnace, unfortunately, many of you have also skipped the recommended annual furnace tune-up. This is why Top Notch Heating and Cooling – Pittsburgh PA HVAC experts – have put together some quick tips to help ensure your furnace runs optimally all winter long.

Replace Furnace Filters

Regularly replacing the filter in your furnace will prolong the lifespan of the unit. Not only will it keep your furnace running optimally throughout the winter, but it’ll also keep your gas bill down.

Unfortunately, for as simple as it is, many homeowners fail to change their furnace filters as often as they should. This can lead to rising heating bills and contribute to more serious and costly maintenance issues down the road.

So, how often should furnace filters be replaced? The cheaper fiberglass filters, which while cost-efficient, really don’t do a great job of filtering, should be switched out every 30 days. Higher-end pleated filters can last as long as 6 months before they need to be replaced; however, it’s generally recommended they be changed every 90 days. Filter efficiency decreases as more dirt, dust, and allergens from the air are trapped.

Clean the Heat Exchanger Annually

Here’s why you shouldn’t dismissively wave off any mention of annual furnace maintenance. Heat exchangers need to be professionally brushed and vacuumed once a year. Making sure heat exchangers are properly maintained and cleaned annually will prevent expensive complications later. Dirty heat exchangers can contribute to anything from a poorly performing furnace to the need for total equipment replacement.

Dirt, soot, and sediments are only a few contributors to dirty heat exchangers. There can also be a crystallization of salts and minerals, organic fouling from organisms, and chemical fouling as well. Corrosion from water and condensation build up or the use of chemicals must also be cleaned.

In addition to cleaning, heat exchangers also need to be inspected annually. Particularly to look for cracks that could allow dangerous carbon monoxide to leak into a home.

Clean Your Air Ducts

Heat is blown through your air ducts. It’s a good idea to have your air ducts checked every season to make sure there’s no obstruction inhibiting airflow. It’s not uncommon for objects to get inside your ductwork and create a blockage. A professional HVAC technician can thoroughly clean a vent’s exterior and remove any obstructions.

Check Your Thermostat

You may think this is a no-brainer, but we get so many calls every year from homeowners reporting an issue with their furnace who are really experiencing a completely correctable issue with their thermostat.

Replace the batteries in your thermostat when you first turn your furnace on. If it’s time to replace your thermostat, consider a programmable one that lets you set different temperatures throughout the day or even program temperature changes through a smartphone app. Modern thermostats like these are a great way to effectively lower heating costs.


We recommend that homeowners in the Pittsburgh area have their HVAC equipment inspected and maintained twice a year. Once prior to running your AC unit and then again prior to running your furnace. Contact Top Notch Heating and Cooling today for the best HVAC in Pittsburgh. Call 412-381-0598 to schedule your annual Pittsburgh furnace tune-up or if you’re experiencing any problem with your furnace. Or reach out to us at https://topnotchair.com/contact.

Are Annual Furnace Inspections Really Necessary?

Your furnace is the heart of your home in the wintertime. Without it, it would be impossible for your home to be habitable on a cold winter’s night. This is why it’s important to keep it well maintained if you intend on staying warm all winter long. This requires a furnace inspection by an HVAC professional. But how often does this inspection really need to occur?

The simple answer is service schedules sort of differ depending on the brand and type of furnace in your home. Most manufacturers will recommend a service schedule of once every 2 to 5 years. For the Pittsburgh area homeowners we serve, due to the harshness of Western Pennsylvania winters, as well as environmental and architectural (lots of older large homes) components, we recommend your furnace be inspected once a year. Preferably, prior to its first use when the weather turns cold.

Is it necessary? The best analogy we can think of is it’s like scheduling a dental appointment every six months. You’re going for a basic check-up and cleaning. It’s probably not necessary but it’s recommended since the overall health of your mouth will be better through the long run. You’re less likely to be one of those people running to the dentist in agonizing pain from a sudden toothache. The dentist will catch issues when they’re small; before they become a bigger problem.

That’s the idea behind an annual furnace inspection. Looming issues can be caught before they escalate into a more expensive problem. You’re less likely to need to call an emergency 24-hour HVAC service when your furnace suddenly stops working on a cold, cold night. That’s because an inspection and some maintenance before you start running your furnace will prevent that complete system failure from happening.

But what does a furnace inspection and tune-up consist of?

Every HVAC contractor is going to have a description with subtle differences in language that make it almost impossible to compare services between competing heating companies. For instance, you may see this service described as a furnace “check-up”, “safety check”, “certification”, “tune-up”, “complete tune-up”, “basic tune-up”, “ or “annual maintenance check-up.”

Services will vary from one HVAC contractor to the next. This is why you need to know exactly what services the HVAC company you hire will provide as part of their annual inspection and tune-up. We’ve compiled this list of generic services recommended annually by different furnace manufacturers. These manufacturers expect these services to be carried out by a qualified HVAC technician:

  • Check vent system for blockage/leakage
  • Check blower access door to ensure the seal at the furnace is tight
  • Analyze and compare combustion gases to the unit specifications
  • Inspect heat exchanger for rust and corrosion
  • Check fresh air intake grills and louvers for blockage
  • Check drainage system for blockage and/or leakage
  • Check burners for proper ignition, burner flame, and flame sense
  • Check blower wheel needs for debris and remove blower wheel to clean if necessary
  • Clean condensate drain and trap and replace water in the trap
  • Check wiring for corrosion and damage.
  • Conduct amp-draw test on the blower motor and compared with what is listed.
  • Check and replace filters if necessary (this needs to be done several times a year)

In addition to this list, gas pressure testing plus static air pressure and temperature rise checks are also performed.

What does a HVAC Tune Up Cost?

You get what you pay for. A cheap furnace tune up will most likely skip some important services. Remember, annual furnace maintenance isn’t just about safety. Preventative maintenance is another reason you want a yearly furnace tune-up. The more thorough the inspection and cleaning services are, the less likely it is you’ll wake up in the middle of a January night with no heat thanks to a furnace that has quit working altogether. When that happens, you’ll need an emergency HVAC service since your furnace stopped working, which means you’ll be paying emergency rates. Paying a little more for an HVAC tune up will ultimately save you money in the long run.


Top Notch Heating and Cooling provides HVAC tune-ups in Pittsburgh. If you’d like to learn which services our furnace tune-ups include, contact us today at 412-381-0598 or by reaching out to us online at https://topnotchair.com/contact.

Furnace Troubleshooting: Easy Answers to Common Problems

You love your furnace. You just don’t realize it until it craps out on you on a cold winter’s day. Then you realize exactly how much you’ve taken that furnace for granted. Without modern day furnaces, we’d still be huddled around a fire to stay warm. While we all appreciate a cozy night beside a fireplace, a furnace is there for us all day and all through the night. That is… until it stops working.

If your furnace isn’t kicking or warming your house property, here are a few furnace troubleshooting tips from Pittsburgh HVAC company Top Notch Heating and Air.

Check Your Furnace Filter

The air filter in your furnace gets dirty over time. An air filter that’s clogged by dust, dirt, and pet dander can prematurely breakdown or negatively impact how well your home is heated due to restricted airflow. It may also become a fire hazard.

Try to check your air filter every 30 days. One simple way to do this is by removing the filter and holding it up to a light. If you cannot see light passing through it, it’s time for the filter to be cleaned or replaced.

Filter replacement is a DIY endeavor. When installing a new filter, just make sure the arrows on it are pointing to the direction of the airflow. Then be sure to properly secure the access panel once you’re finished.

Check Your Thermostat

Once you’ve confirmed that the air filter is clean, or you’ve properly installed a new filter, it’s now time to check the thermostat.

People think we’re insulting their intelligence when we ask them to confirm the thermostat is set to “heat” and that the temperature is set to at least 5 degrees higher than the current indoor temperature. Yet, every winter, we get at least one of those calls from a confused homeowner who can’t figure out why their heat isn’t kicking on.

Often times the batteries in the thermostat need to be replaced or an electromechanical thermostat may need to be opened and gently dusted with a soft paintbrush.

Another common thermostat issue is its location can make it vulnerable to false readings if it’s in direct sunlight or located near a space heater, oven, lamp, or another heat source. A thermostat receiving wrong input will send out the wrong output.

Check Furnace Switch & Electrical Panel

Many times there’s no problem whatsoever with the air filter and thermostat. However, the power could be an issue.

There will be a furnace switch located near the unit. Check to make sure it wasn’t accidentally turned off. Perhaps flip it back and forth a few times to make sure you hear some semblance of life.

If you don’t, then it might be time to head to the electrical panel to make sure the power at the breaker or fuse box is turned to on. Ideally, the breaker box will be properly labeled; however, if it isn’t, look for the breaker that’s in the opposite direction of the others. That will be the one you’ll want to flip from off to on to reset. You’ll hear a click when you do this.

If it’s a fuse box you’re dealing with, the bad fuse will look discolored and melted. Unscrew it and replace it with a fuse of the exact same type and size. The easiest way to ensure you find an identical fuse is to take the old one to the store and pick out a matching replacement.

Once you’ve done this, turn your furnace switch on to see if power to your furnace has been restored. If there’s still no power, or the breaker has tripped again, it’s time to call an HVAC professional.

NOTE: Prior to resetting power, ensure your hands and feet are completely dry. Do not touch anything If there are visible signs of electrical damage or moisture.

Check Furnace Flame

Your furnace flame should be a healthy blue color. This blue flame is an indicator that your gas furnace is burning fuel safely and efficiently. There might also be a small yellowish tip.

What you don’t want to see is a flame that’s red, purple, green, or completely yellow. When you see this, you need to immediately contact an HVAC professional.

Pilot light & Gas Valve

If your furnace flame is out, you can relight it on your own. Just be sure to consult your unit’s owner’s manual for instructions and proceed with caution. Be sure to turn your gas off for about 10 to 15 minutes before you attempt to relight the pilot. Do not continue if there’s even the faintest smell of gas! That could suggest a gas leak and you’ll need to evacuate your family from the premises and call your gas company ASAP to report a leak.

Properly Secure Front Panel

Many furnaces will not run properly if the front access panel isn’t properly secured or pressed in all the way.

Make Sure All Vents & Registers Are Open & Unobstructed

If certain rooms in your house aren’t getting proper heat or airflow, make sure all the supply and return grills throughout your home are fully opened and unobstructed. Vents and registers might be blocked by furniture, appliances, rugs, or anything else. Not only is your overall comfort affected, but the excessive air pressure builds up in your ductwork due to the obstruction, which could cause a leak or a premature furnace breakdown.

Contrary to popular belief, shutting off the vents and registers in unused rooms is NOT recommended. It doesn’t save you any significant money on your heating bill and may actually damage your heating system.


If you’re having problems with your furnace, do not hesitate to contact Top Notch Heating & Air at 412-381-0598 or reach out to us online at https://topnotchair.com/contact. Explain the problem you’re experiencing to Bill and he or one of our team members will be at your home ASAP to assess and resolve your problem.