Heater Not Working? 7 Troubleshooting Tips

Blog author image
Mark Jardine
July 11, 2024
Heating & Cooling
Blog post image
Across the nation, the weather is changing from a warm fall to an ice winter. Your family's comfort and warmth will soon depend on your heating system. Test your heating system now to be sure it will work flawlessly when temps drop.
Unfortunately, when homeowners switch on their heaters, they frequently discover that it is not working. If you experience problems with your heating system, check these places first. If you have tried troubleshooting and are still having problems, contact the knowledgeable team of professionals at Home Alliance.

Why has my Heating Suddenly Stopped Working?

There could be various reasons why your heating has suddenly stopped working. Some common causes include a malfunctioning thermostat, a tripped circuit breaker, a clogged air filter, or a problem with the heating system, such as a faulty ignition or a malfunctioning pump. It would be best to check these things first before calling a professional.
Before calling in the professionals, try the following tips to get your heater working again:
  • Check the thermostat
Although it might seem obvious, the thermostat is usually the cause of the issue. Thermostats with programmable settings can be challenging and complex. Before presuming the furnace is the issue, it's worth checking to ensure your thermostat is adjusted properly. The switch is also simple to mistakenly move, perhaps when cleaning. Therefore, check the thermostat for any issues before making any calls.
The thermostat ought to be adjusted at a level that activates the furnace. Give it a minute to come on the fan and heat it after you've set the temperature just right. Set the thermostat to 90 degrees Fahrenheit if it won't turn on so it won't switch on and off while you are trying to remedy the issue.
Check the cables leading back to the furnace for breakage if your thermostat doesn't seem to be working. If you discover a wire break, join it back together and tape it up. Maybe the battery has to be changed.
  • Change the filter
One of the main reasons for furnace issues and a source of high running expenses are dirty and clogged filters. Filters blocked with dust, and debris might cause the heat exchanger to overheat and shut off quickly. Additionally, this results in soot accumulation on the heat exchanger, which reduces the efficiency of your furnace.
If the blower is operating, but no heat emanates, the filter must be changed. To find out where the filter is and how to remove it, consult your owner's handbook.
Pleated filters should be inspected once a month, and flat filters should be changed at least once every month. It's time to change the filters if you can no longer see the light clearly through them. Pleated filters typically last for three months, but if you have dust-producing dogs or children, you might need to change them more regularly.
  • Make sure the gas or power is on.
Like the thermostat, it's simple to forget to turn off the gas valve. Follow the gas line back to the meter from the furnace to verify this. If a handle is present, turn it so that it is parallel to the gas line. Most older boilers and furnaces include a pilot light. Remove the front panel and the burner cover if yours has a pilot light to see whether it's lighted.
  • Clear the chimney exhaust flue
Birds or other debris may cause the issue in your chimney exhaust flue. Turn the thermostat down and the furnace off to verify this. Take the duct apart and look for debris. After that, put the pieces back together in the same order and direction you took them apart.
  • Clean away leaves and debris from exhaust vents
It's conceivable that leaves or other debris obstruct the intake or exhaust if your furnace vents outside the home. Replace any screen mesh that may be present on the pipes with hardware cloth mesh that is half an inch thick. If ice prevents one of the pipes from flowing, you could have a greater issue. Remove the ice, give us a call, and we'll assist you in determining the cause of the issue.
  • Flush out the drain lines
During the heating season, your furnace can drain several gallons of water daily. The furnace will quit working if the drain lines become filled with sediment or mold growth. If you see that the drain hose is dirty, remove it and fill it with a mixture of bleach and water. After letting it sit for several minutes, flush it out.
  • Check for blocked ducts restricting airflow.
Check the ductwork you can access and search for gaps between the sections or branching points if only one or two rooms are cold, yet your furnace is operating in other rooms. Use metal duct tape to fill up any gaps. The use of regular cotton duct tape should be avoided as it might result in duct leaks.

What to do if your heater stops working in winter?

When your heater breaks down, there are several things you may do to attempt a self-repair. But don't hesitate to call Home Alliance if you're chilly and nothing appears to be working. If your heater stops working in the winter, there are a few steps you can take:
  • Check the thermostat to ensure it is set to the desired temperature and that the batteries are not dead.
  • Check the circuit breaker or fuse box to ensure the heater hasn't tripped a breaker or blown a fuse.
  • Check the air filter to make sure it isn't dirty or clogged. A dirty air filter can restrict airflow and cause the heater to stop working.
  • If none of these steps solve the problem, it may be best to call a professional technician to diagnose and fix the issue.
  • In the meantime, you can use alternative heating sources like electric heaters, blankets, or extra clothing to stay warm.
  • Make sure to keep windows and doors closed to retain the heat inside.

How do I restart my heating system?

The steps to restart your heating system will depend on the type of system you have. Here are a few general steps that may apply to your system:
  • Locate the furnace power switch near the furnace and turn it off. If there’s no switch, turn off the main circuit breaker to the furnace.
  • Wait for about 10 seconds.
  • Turn the switch or breaker back on and check to see if the furnace is running properly.
  • If the above steps don't work, locate the emergency shut-off switch, which is usually located near the furnace or boiler. It is usually a red switch; turn it off, wait for a minute or so and turn it on again.
  • If your heating system is a furnace, turn off the gas valve and turn it back on after a minute or so.
Please note that if you are unsure of how to proceed with these steps, it is best to contact a professional heating and cooling technician for help.

Should I turn my heat off if it's not working?

It is generally not recommended to turn off your heat if it is not working, especially during cold weather. If your heat is not working, there may be an issue that needs to be addressed by a professional technician. Turning off the heat may cause additional damage to the system or make it harder to diagnose the problem.
Instead of turning off the heat, you can try troubleshooting the issue by checking the thermostat, circuit breaker or fuse box, air filter, and emergency shut-off switch if you have one. If these steps do not resolve the issue, it is best to call a professional technician to diagnose and fix the problem. While waiting for a technician to arrive, you can use alternative heating sources like electric heaters, blankets, or extra clothing to stay warm. Make sure to keep windows and doors closed to retain the heat inside.
If your heating system is still not working after completing these troubleshooting methods, it is time to call the experts. The HVAC specialists on Home Alliance's staff have years of expertise and are prepared to locate and fix any heating issues. If your HVAC system is beyond repair and has to be replaced, we can advise you on the best HVAC system for your house. Under your demands and financial constraints, our staff can assist you in locating the most energy-efficient system to reduce your recurring electricity costs.
Home Alliance is your go-to HVAC service company to take care of your home's heating and cooling requirements, and it serves most major cities across the US. Check your heating system right away. Sign up for our membership program and schedule maintenance for your home's heating and cooling system. Call Home Alliance right away!