Why Isn’t My Heater Heating?



Sleigh bells are ringing, Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, and you are freezing your behind off! Unless you’re literally sitting in a snowbank, this means the heater ain’t working. So, after you put on a couple extra sweaters, but before you call the HVAC professional, there is a host of usual suspects to check off the list of probable malfunction causes. Troubleshooting and fixing some common problems regarding the furnace is not out of the realm of possibility; it’s not even that hard to DIY. These are a handful of the primary hiccups responsible for the heater not heating.

  • Dirty / Clogged Air Filter - If you’re not changing the air filter every 30 - 90 days, which is strongly recommended by HVAC experts, this could be the issue. If the filter is filthy, airflow may be hindered so much that extreme pressure builds up within the ductwork, and the system shuts down. Unless the filter is changed immediately, the unit will automatically (in most cases) prevent itself from starting up again.

  • Thermostat Glitch - The thermostat is basically the brain of the HVAC system, sending and analyzing signals to modulate temperature, or turn off and on. Check the settings. If it accurately displays the current temperature, and it’s not in “cool” mode, you may want to pop the cover off and inspect for debris buildup. Give it a soft dusting to ensure that the sensors aren’t coated with dirt.

  • Air Ducts - If only some rooms happen to be colder than others, check to see if the ducts are open. Make sure the dampers are fully open to maximize airflow. If this doesn’t do the trick some of your ducts might be leaking. This causes the furnace to work harder, which increases electric bills. It can also import dust into the airflow cycle. This is usually the fix-it domain of trained HVAC professionals.

  • Gas Valve is Shut - Someone could have neglected to turn the gas back on after shutting it off as a precautionary safety measure while work was being done. See that the valve is in the “on” position, or parallel with the gas pipe.

  • Blown Fuse - Your furnace may utilize gas or oil to manufacture heat, but the unit needs electricity for some operations. Head over to the circuit breaker and see that the switch governing the furnace is in the “on” position.

  • Pilot Light Shut Off - Older furnaces employ blue-flamed, gas-lit pilot lights to function. If the blue flame is extinguished ignition will not take place. Reignite this flame, if so.

The whole HVAC apparatus is a vast and complex system of interrelated parts that must work in concert to function properly. Should any one of these components malfunction the whole operation can be compromised. This means it’s time to grab your cellphone, jump underneath all the blankets you can find, and call an HVAC professional. Only a licensed contractor has the knowledge and experience to bring your heater back to life.

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