What to Do If Your Heating System Isn’t Working
Despite Texas typically having mild winters, it can be extremely frustrating to find that your heating system doesn’t work when you need it. This issue can occur for a variety of different reasons, some of which are things that you may be able to easily fix on your own without needing to hire a professional HVAC contractor. With that in mind, here are the steps you should take if you ever find that your heating isn’t working.
Make Sure the Circuit Breaker Isn’t Tripped
Heat pumps obviously won’t work if the circuit breaker is tripped since they run solely off electricity, but many people mistakenly believe that gas furnaces will still work without power. If the power goes out or the circuit breaker that controls your heating system gets tripped, it will prevent the furnace from working for two reasons. The first is that the furnace will only ever run if the blower fan is also running, and the fan needs electricity to work. The second is that most furnaces use some type of electric igniter to light, and this will also only ever work if there is electricity flowing to the unit.
For these reasons, the very first thing you should do if your heating won’t turn on is to make sure that the circuit breaker isn’t tripped. If the breaker isn’t tripped, you can try to reset the system to see if it will now work, which we will discuss a bit later.
Check Your Thermostat
The next thing to do is check to make sure that your thermostat is set correctly with the heating on and the fan set to “Auto.” If the batteries in the thermostat are old, try to replace them to see if the system will now turn on. There are many times when the batteries still have enough charge to power the thermostat display but not enough power to signal the heating system to turn on and off.
You should also make sure that the thermostat isn’t located somewhere that stays much hotter than the rest of the home and is also not exposed to sunlight. Both of these issues can make the thermostat register the wrong temperature and prevent the heating system from running when needed.
If you have a heat pump, you should also try to turn your thermostat to cooling mode to see if the heat pump will now run. Heat pumps have something known as a reversing valve that allows them to change the direction of the refrigerant flow so that they can both cool and heat. If this valve breaks or malfunctions, the unit will be stuck and only able to run in one mode. If the heat pump will turn on when set to cooling and not when set to heating, it is a sure sign that the valve is broken and needs to be replaced.
Make Sure Your Gas Is On
If you have a gas furnace, you will also want to make sure that your gas supply is still on. This can be done by checking to see if any other gas-burning appliances like a stove, fireplace, or water heater are working. If none of your gas appliances are working, you will need to call the gas company to see what the issue is. You should also make sure that the gas line feeding the furnace isn’t kinked and that the gas valve is fully open.
Reset the Furnace
Most furnaces have a safety switch that will trigger and switch the furnace off if it begins to overheat or if it has any electrical issues that could trip the breaker. In this case, there should be a reset switch located on the blower fan inside your air handler. If the safety switch is ever triggered, it is often necessary to reset the furnace before it will work again.
You can reset the furnace on your own, but it’s always best to call in professional help if you’re uncomfortable or not sure what you’re doing. When resetting a furnace, you first need to turn the power to the unit off and also close the gas supply valve. You’ll also want to switch the heating off at your thermostat. After letting the unit sit for a few minutes, you can then turn the power and gas back on. Next, you’ll need to press the reset button and hold it in for around 30 seconds. Finally, turn your system back on at the thermostat and see if it will now ignite. If the furnace still won’t turn on after being reset, you’ll need to have it inspected by an HVAC technician to determine why it’s not working.
Replace Your Air Filter
If you haven’t replaced your air filter recently, you should also do this to see if it allows your heat to work properly. A dirty air filter won’t prevent your furnace or heating from turning on, but it can cause it to produce little to no heat or lead to the furnace shutting down soon after starting. A dirty air filter limits the amount of cold air that can flow into the furnace, which means it won’t produce much hot air at a time. This issue also typically results in the furnace overheating and automatically shutting down.
These problems can easily be avoided by making sure to regularly inspect your air filter and replace it whenever it begins to look black or overly dirty. In most cases, you should replace your filter every month or two whenever your furnace or AC runs every day. If your HVAC system doesn’t run very often, you may be able to go as long as three months before needing to replace the filter.
Inspect Your Vents
If your supply vents are clogged with hair and debris or obstructed by furniture, it can lead to the same airflow issues as with a dirty filter. The same is also true if you have more than 25% of the vents in the home closed. Again, these issues won’t prevent your heating system from running, but they will limit its effectiveness and result in little to no hot air coming out of your vents. These issues can also force the furnace and blower fan to work harder and potentially lead to either unit overheating or your heating system automatically shutting down before it can heat your home fully.
Call Blue Ribbon Cooling & Heating
If you’ve checked all of these other potential issues and your heating still isn’t working, it’s time to turn to the professionals. At Blue Ribbon Cooling & Heating, our technician’s service and repair all makes and models of heating units and can quickly diagnose whatever is preventing your system from working. We can also help you determine when replacing your furnace or heat pump is a better option than attempting to repair it. Our team offers a full range of air conditioners, mini-split, and indoor air quality services for customers in Bastrop and the surrounding areas as well. Give us a call today to schedule a heating inspection or if you need any other HVAC service.