Heating Troubleshooting

With the arrival of the colder weather comes the inevitable worrying about whether your heating system furnace will actually start up and run this year reliably, or whether you’ll end up being stuck in the cold (literally!) in the middle of the night one snowy January evening. If you have any doubts about your heating system lasting through the winter, you should definitely call in a Raleigh heating professional and get a seasonal check-up. A little maintenance goes a long way to keeping heating systems going these days.

Heat Not Working Troubleshooting Steps:

  1. Check your heating system thermostat: There are hundreds of different types of manual and electronic thermostats, and you’d be amazed at how complex they can make the simple act of turning on the heat. Be sure to read your manual and make sure you’re actually setting things the right way. It could be a simple case of accidentally setting the temperature too low or having a timer set incorrectly.
  2. Change your batteries: This is so important that I made it a separate step. A lot of electronic and digital thermostats use little AA batteries to run and when those batteries start running out of juice some weird things can happen. Most electronic thermostats have “low battery” indicators these days, but even before the indicator comes on your thermostat could be giving you false temperature readings or not switching your heat on as it should be.
  3. Check inline switches and vents: No matter what kind of heating system you have, there are probably at least one or two switches that can turn things on or off in an emergency or at the first sign of trouble. Sometimes these emergency switches get accidentally turned off. Some systems even have separate room controls which may be turned off during the warmer months and forgotten to be turned back on when it gets cooler.
  4. Check your air filters: With forced hot air systems is usually one large air filter and sometimes some smaller filters along the main air heating duct. Check to make sure all the air filters in your ducts are clean and the proper size for your system. Some heating systems will shut down or will not work correctly if the air filter gets excessively dirty. This auto-shutdown feature is a safety measure to prevent your system from working too hard.
  5. Check your heating system fuses: There are many different types of heating systems, from forced hot air to the baseboard, to ambient heat, and there are also many types of heating fuels from electric to gas to oil. Almost all of these systems generally rely on some sort of electrical charge somewhere along the way, whether it’s to turn on a fan or a switch or to provide the actual heat. Make sure you haven’t accidentally blown a fuse. If you find that you did trip a fuse, then you may want to think about getting an electrician in at some point to look your system over.
  6. Look for leaks: If you have a room that was once warm but is suddenly cold you may have some sort of leak. If you have a forced air system, then try to find the duct work to see if there are any holes or patches of duct that may be leaking out hot air. It’s a relatively easy job to seal and insulate air ducts. If you have a gas or oil heating system, then leaks can be a very bad thing indeed. Pay attention to odd smells or odors if you’re having trouble with your heat – it could be an indication of a serious leak. Call the repair company or gas company right away if you suspect anything unusual.
  7. Read the heater’s manual: When all else fails you can actually do what you should have done first – read the manual for the both your thermostat and your heating system. Now, I know that not all systems have a formal manual, but it’s a good idea to have some sort of written record of how to operate things in case you ever need to instruct someone else. If you’re stuck, you can either install a new thermostat or ask your heating & air conditioning service company if they can give you simple instructions on how to use your furnace or heating system that you can write down and keep handy.

Be safe when it comes to dealing with heating systems. Most air conditioner systems run about the same way with some minor differences, but there are dozens of different configurations of heating systems out there. If you have any doubt about your heating system working through the winter and you have elderly or extremely young people in your home, then you may want to think about investing in a small back up room heater. That way even if you do have a heating system breakdown you’ll be able to gather in one room and at least stay safe from the bitter cold outside.

If all else fails, you can always call your local Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors at (919) 302-8956.