“How Long Should It Take for a Furnace to Kick On?” Dan in Sacramento Asks an HVAC Expert

how long should it take for furnace to kick onDan in Sacramento has just started to run his furnace for the cold weather season, and he has a question about whether it’s working right. Dan asks:

“Hey there Bell Brothers crew. As I’m sure you all have noticed, it’s gotten much colder around these parts lately, so I’ve been running my furnace again to keep warm. I have to be honest, I skipped my annual HVAC check-up this year. I know, I know… I’m not supposed to do that, but I was just so, so busy with work! You know how it goes. Anyway, now I’m wondering if something is wrong with my furnace.

See, when I switch my furnace on in the morning, it often seems to take way too long to start up. In fact, I timed it the other morning, and it took a whopping 15 minutes! That might not sound like a long time, but when you’re freezing and waiting for things to heat up a bit so you can take a shower before work, it feels like an eternity!

Anyway, my question is: How long should it take for a furnace to kick on? You know, on average. Thanks in advance, and I promise that I’ll do a better job reaching out to my local HVAC heating company for my annual furnace maintenance next year!” – Dan in Sacramento

Dan, I’m not going to scold you because it seems like you already know what you did wrong, but you really shouldn’t ever skip your annual furnace maintenance checkups. My number one fall furnace maintenance tip is to have a trained HVAC pro out for a visit—every year! Anyway, I’m still happy to answer your question, so let’s get to it—because 15 minutes for a furnace to kick on is definitely too long.

How Long Should It Take for a Furnace to Kick On?

We’ll get into more nuanced subject matter in a bit, but let’s start by answering Dan’s basic question: How long should it take for a furnace to kick on? Dan mentioned that his furnace takes about 15 minutes, and, simply put, that’s way too long. Your furnace should start up within five minutes of you turning on your thermostat. Period. End of story. No exceptions.

If your furnace does not kick on within 5 minutes of being turned on, chances are very good that something is wrong.

does my furnace take too long to kick on?If your furnace does not kick on within 5 minutes of being turned on, chances are very good that something is wrong. When a furnace takes longer than usual time to kick on like that, whether it’s the first time you’ve turned it on in the fall or the end of winter, what’s happening is that the furnace is trying to ignite, failing, and then trying again.

I’ve heard of some older furnaces taking as long as an hour to finally heat up. That’s an extreme, but if a problem like Dan’s goes unchecked, it can sometimes turn into wait times that are that long. The smart thing for Dan to do immediately is to have an experienced HVAC tech out to take a look at his furnace, and specifically its ignition system.

Signs of Trouble If a Furnace Takes Too Long to Kick On

How long should it take for a furnace to kick on is just one question that Dan should be asking if he wants to make sure that everything is in order with his furnace before winter hits. There are other basic inquiries that homeowners can also make in order to determine whether there’s an issue with their HVAC system.

These questions should include:

  • Am I hearing unusual noises from my furnace?
  • Is my house heating unevenly?
  • Does the heated air from my HVAC system actually fell warm when it comes out of my vents?

If you do hear unusual noises, notice uneven heat, or feel cooler than usual air coming from your vents, the answer is to call out an HVAC pro right away. Sacramento has a wet and cool winter, as you no doubt know; while it doesn’t snow or freeze here often, it does stay cold for several months. You don’t want to just wonder about these things and try to wait it out. My strong advice is to get help from the pros today!

How to Avoid Common Furnace Problems So It Kicks on Quickly

All of these questions can likely be avoided if homeowners follow a strict fall furnace maintenance checklist, which Dan has been clear about admitting he did not.

A good fall furnace maintenance checklist includes the following tasks:

  • Clean the vents: Debris can build up in your HVAC unit while it works hard during the dusty summer months. It’s a good idea to check all your vents for any dirt or build-up and vacuum them out to ensure proper airflow. This will also prevent the circulation of dust in your home.
  • Change the filer: Installing a fresh air filter in your HVAC unit is one of the easiest ways to make sure your system runs smoothly. When filters clog, the entire system gets bogged down and your furnace works harder, resulting in unnecessary strain. Be sure to change your filter every 2-3 months, or have your favorite HVAC maintenance pro sign you up for a worry-free plan that automatically includes this service.
  • Check and set your thermostat: If your thermostat is programmable, make sure you adjust it accordingly for our colder winter months. If it isn’t, you might want to consider replacing it with a programmable smart thermostat so you can set it to your schedule, lowering the temperature during times you won’t be at home. Not only will this extend the lifespan of your system, but you can also up your energy efficiency game and save money that way, too.

I hope all of this is helpful for Dan and all the other homeowners out there wondering if their furnace is taking too long to kick on. The honest truth of this matter is, if you have to wonder if your furnace is reacting too slowly, chances are that there’s already a problem. You can, however, easily avoid problems like this before they even start.

The best way to do that is to make sure that you never skip your annual furnace maintenance checkups. Here at Bell Brothers, we can put you on an easy furnace maintenance schedule. It’s easy because it means you don’t have to remember it! Our trained HVAC professionals would be more than happy to come take a look at your furnace each year before the cool and damp weather starts so that you can bundle up in a sweater and relax in a cozy home knowing that your furnace is also happy and healthy.

At Bell Brothers, we’re more than happy to be your go-to HVAC company for annual fall furnace maintenance checks, and we can even help you schedule them well in advance so you don’t have to take time away from your busy schedule. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation.

Wondering how to finance a new furnace, or maybe even new windows and plumbing? HERO is a unique financing option that helps California homeowners afford energy efficient upgrades to their home. Contact Bell Brothers, a HERO-approved contractor, to learn more. Our local HVAC, plumbing, and window specialists will walk you through the entire process, from applications to installation.

Image courtesy deagreez