Texas may not have to deal with the coldest weather, but temperatures do plummet in the wintertime. Without your heater, your family would be huddling around the fireplace to keep warm. However, to keep your heater working in tip-top shape, it’s important to schedule regular maintenance services and to perform some basic upkeep tasks.
Nothing is as frustrating as suffering through the cold because your heater has quit working during the most inconvenient time. If your heater is acting up or has quit working completely, there are some things you can try on your own before contacting the professionals. Following are a few heating system troubleshooting tips every homeowner should know about.
Check the Heater Filter
The first thing you should check whenever your heater isn’t working properly is the filter. With prolonged use, heater filters can get extremely filthy. If dirt, dust, or other debris has collected on the filter, a clog can result in poor airflow. This can worsen indoor air quality and even prevent the heater from operating in extreme cases. Believe it or not, clogged heater filters can even increase the risk of fire hazards.
To remedy these problems, check your heater filter at least once a month. Inspect the filter to see whether it should be cleaned or replaced. If you need to replace it, remember that the arrows should always point in the direction of the airflow. Always remember to turn your heater off before you perform any work on it.
Inspect the Switch and Electrical Panel
Sometimes, power could be the culprit to your heater issues. Look at the switch located near the heater and make sure someone didn’t accidentally turn it off. Try to flip the switch on and off a couple of times. If that doesn’t resolve the problem, head to the electric panel.
Before you begin, shut off the power at the breaker box or fuse box for safety purposes. If your HVAC system is properly labeled, you’ll be able to quickly identify it. If not, look for any breaker switches that are positioned in the opposite direction of the others. If you need to reset a breaker, flip the switch all the way off before flipping it on again.
If you need to inspect the fuse box, look for discolored or melted metal. The easiest way to find the exact fuse replacement you’ll need is to remove the existing one and take it with you to your hardware store. It’s important to replace the exact type and size of fuse.
Check Out the Flame
If your heater is relatively older, it may operate via pilot light. If your pilot light won’t stay lit, the issue could be a loose or faulty thermocouple or a clogged pilot light. In some cases, the safety cutoff valve may be defective.
Your heater flame should be a blue color which indicates that your system is burning fuel safely and efficiently. If the flame appears any other color than blue, contact a professional immediately. Flames that are red, purple, green, or yellow could put your family and house at serious risk.
Open and Unblock Vents
If your heater is running but certain rooms or areas of your home aren’t getting proper airflow, inspect your home for closed or blocked supply and return vents. Each one should be fully open and unobstructed. If items like rugs and furniture are blocking your vents, they can significantly restrict the flow of air.
Blocked or closed vents can make rooms feel uncomfortable and stuffy. They can also put your duct system at risk of leaks due to an increase in air pressure. It’s never a good idea to close vents and registers in unused rooms.
Take a Look at the Thermostat
As obvious as it may sound, make sure the thermostat is set to “heat” and that it’s a least a few degrees higher than the current temperature. All too often, what appears to be a heater issue is actually a thermostat that simply needs new batteries. If you don’t see any numbers or data on the panel, this is most likely your problem.
Sometimes, a faulty thermostat can also be the culprit. Make sure your thermostat isn’t getting false readings from an oven, lamp, direct sunlight, or another source. If it’s receiving the wrong input, it will release the wrong output.
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