Why Your Gas Furnace Won’t Function Without Electricity

image of a girl feeling chilly due to a home heating emergency and power outage

Your home’s very first line of defense against the cold outdoor temperatures that winter brings is your furnace. The comfort and safety of your entire household are reliant upon your gas furnace and its ability to distribute warm air. Sadly, winter often entails some pretty extreme weather events. Storms can knock out electricity to residential areas and leave you without power and lights. As such, you may be wondering, “Will a gas furnace work without electricity?”. Unfortunately, it won’t. If you’re using a gas furnace, it probably won’t turn on when your home is without power. The good news is that there are several ways to stay warm in the event of an electrical outage.

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Why Gas Furnaces Won’t Work When the Electricity Is Off

It’s common to think that a gas-fired furnace will remain reliable for heating even when the electricity is off. After all, this appliance burns gas to create heat. Sadly, however, gas furnaces aren’t stoves. They do require some electricity to produce heat and warm up your home. The major reason why a gas furnace will become useless when the power goes off is the fact that several of its components require electricity in order to function.

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The Components In Your Gas Furnace That Need Electricity

  • Relays – These switches govern both the gas flow and the safety devices inside of the unit, such as the fuel regulator and the thermocouple.
  • Circuit Boards – Circuit boards send signals between the furnace and thermostat.
  • Blower Motor – This motor uses fans to move heated air through your HVAC ductwork, and it also requires electricity to function.
  • Electric Ignition – The ignition system in modern furnaces no longer uses a pilot light to ignite the gas burners. Unless you have a working power supply in your home, your furnace’s ignition system will not be able to start your heater up.

All of these parts are vital in the functioning of your gas-fired furnace. If one isn’t working due to a lack of electricity, the rest of your furnace’s components won’t function either.


Tips to Stay Warm When the Power Goes Out

Given that you cannot help how your gas-fired furnace has been designed, your primary concern should be learning how to keep you and everyone else in the home warm in the event of a power outage. This is a special concern during snowstorms and other weather events that cause the outside temperatures to plummet. Following are several things that you can do to both conserve and generate heat when you’re without a functional furnace:

Seal Up or Cover All Crevices, Cracks, and Gaps Ahead Of Time

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The warm air inside of your home can easily seep out of cracks, gaps, and other openings in building materials. Cold outside air can seep in as well. To prevent both of these things, check your windows, doors, and other areas that might have cracks or warped joints before winter actually arrives. Use weatherproofing tape or weatherproofing chemicals to seal all cracks and holes up. This is an excellent preventative measure as it will keep your warm air inside and help you lower your energy bill.

If your indoor air starts growing colder during the middle of winter, grab a few thick towels and other materials and then use these to block areas where outside air is seeping in. If you need to, secure these bundles in place with tape.

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Get Covered Up

image of a homeowner bundling up with warm clothes due to a furnace not working

Wear a few warm layers of clothes when you’re indoors. Thick fabrics are basic insulators that will help you retain more of your body heat, which can be especially helpful when your furnace is out. Choose clothing that is thick and light and select fabrics that actively work against the cold, like wool. Wear gloves and socks to keep your extremities warm, and top everything off with a thick cap or hat.

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Keep All of Your Windows and Doors Closed

Limit the amount of opening and closing that you do with your windows and doors. If you have to go outside, plan your exits accordingly so that you can limit the number of times that the door has to be opened.

Eat Warm Food & Enjoy Warm Beverages

image of soup depicting what to when no heat at home

If you’re eating a meal, choose a dish that warm or a hot beverage such as hot cocoa, coffee, or tea.

Light a Few Candles

Candles can be especially handy during power outages for light, but they are also great sources of heat. Light several candles and group them together in a key area. This should generate sufficient heat for a small-sized room to help keep the temperature in the area reasonably high.

However, be careful when using candles this way. Place them on a stand and on a surface that’s both level and stable, or set them up in bowls that are filled with a bit of water. If the candles burn out or tip, the water will put them out before they have the chance to cause a fire. Avoid putting your candles near any items that are flammable such as fabric, wood, plastic, or paper. It is additionally important to keep them away from all gas-burning appliances such as an oven or stove.

If you have any pets or children in the house, make sure that your candles aren’t easy to reach and that they cannot be accidentally knocked over. Don’t keep candles burning for too long. Be sure to snuff them out if you intend to leave the room and when you’re ready to go to bed.

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Sleep or Sit With a Hot Water Bottle

Pour hot water (not boiling water) into hot water packs or hot water bottles, and then wrap these in cloths or towels to stay warm. These can certainly be handy when you’re getting ready to go to bed and want to remain toasty and warm.

Steps to Take if Your Furnace Still Doesn’t Work After Electricity Is Restored

If you attempt to turn your gas-fired furnace back on after power has been restored and it still won’t budge, take a minute to check the system. It may be that the gas valve has shut off or you might need to reset the unit’s safety lock. However, there are also other reasons why furnaces don’t turn back on after power outages. Although you might be tempted to try experimenting with your system, you shouldn’t. You may wind up doing more harm than good. If this proves to be the case, turn the power supply off and call a licensed technician in. This will ensure that your furnace is safe to use and that any underlying problems have been resolved.



The best way to keep your gas-fired furnace ready for the demands of the cold weather season is by taking good care of it. Regular maintenance and inspections and routine cleaning will keep this important heating equipment working as it should. If there are issues that you don’t completely understand, put them in the hands of a qualified professional and make sure to call a trusted HVAC company whenever problems are suspected.

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Contact Miller Oil Company for Your Winter Heating Needs

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Miller Oil Company offers excellent home heating services to residents of the greater Hartford County, Connecticut area. We’re staffed by a friendly team of highly trained technicians who can help you resolve your HVAC problems. You can count on us to maintain your HVAC equipment, repair it, and install it correctly.

When you hire Miller Oil Company, you’ll get clear and transparent pricing and the most competitive rates in the area. Our maintenance and inspection services will help you get the warmth, comfort, and level of efficiency you deserve. When you’re ready to have a new heating or cooling system put in, we can assist with this job by helping you find the perfect model for your home. Everything that we do on behalf of our customers comes backed by a solid satisfaction guarantee. To set up an appointment for service, get in touch with Miller Oil Company now. We’ll give you an in-home estimate at absolutely no charge.

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