Serving Greenwood, Fishers, Carmel & Surrounding Areas

January 13, 2023

What to Check First if Your Heater Is Not Working: A Step-By-Step Guide

The most common problems related to the furnace not working or your heater not turning on are dirty filters, lack of maintenance, and ignition issues. Whether your home has a gas furnace or electric heat, there are a few steps we recommend before calling a professional.

Step One: Check at the power.

Start at the thermostat. Is the screen on? Check the batteries. Not all thermostats will have them, but sometimes it’s as simple as replacing dead batteries. Be sure to set it to heat and raise it a few degrees to test your system.

Next, check the switch at the indoor unit or breaker on the service panel. Make sure they are all placed in the on position and the breaker isn’t tripped. Also, while you’re here at the system, make sure all doors are tightly sealed. There is a switch that prevents the system from running if the doors are off or misaligned.

Additionally, gas furnaces should have a manual valve on the gas line going into the furnace. Check to make sure it’s open.If your heating system is still not working, move on to the next step.

Step Two: Check the filter.

The furnace filter keeps dust and debris from circulating through your home, but can block airflow through your system when dirty. Go to your filter access and take a look at your filter. Even if it was recently replaced, it could be causing problems if it is overly dirty. We recommend performing what we call the “light check”. Hold your filter up to a light source, such as a lamp or flashlight, and notice if there is any light shining through the filter. If you can see a decent amount of light, then you do not need to replace this filter and can plan to check it next month. If very little light is shining through, it’s time to replace the filter and could be the reason your heating isn’t working.

Step 3: Reset

For gas furnaces: Turn off the power at the on/off switch, wait 10 seconds, then turn power back on. Next, go to the thermostat and set it to heat. Raise the temperature a few degrees. This should start the heat cycle. Most furnaces have an LED light that will flash error codes when there are problems. After resetting, if there are still problems, the system will flash a code. See the inside panel of the furnace for information on your systems’ specific codes.

For Electric Systems: Most electric systems consist of an air handler inside and a heat pump outside. The heat pump handles the bulk of the heating, and the electric backup heat or auxiliary heat will assist when there are low outdoor temperatures. If your heat is not working, cycle power and set the temperature a few degrees higher at the thermostat. You should see AUX heat come on the screen and warm air should begin to flow from the vents. Check the heat pump outside for any ice buildup. If the heat pump has ice on it, the defrost function has likely failed. Set the system to EM Heat. This will turn on only the electric heat and shut off the heat pump. We recommend calling a technician ASAP, as electric backup heat can be expensive to operate.

For your health and safety, if you experience further problems, we recommend calling a licensed professional. Remember, the best way to fix heating problems is to prevent them with a bi-annual tune up and safety inspection. The certified technician will clean, inspect, and test the system, allowing you to learn about potential problems before they become serious issues.

We have been serving the residents of Central Indiana for over 20 years and we are dedicated to serving our fellow Hoosiers. If you are located in Central Indiana, we can provide you with a thorough inspection of your equipment, along with an honest opinion regarding the best fit for your home. We also offer annual maintenance plans to help keep your system running smoothly and consistently, no matter the season.

Author Bio:

Jackson Davis

Jackson is a HVAC expert with over 8 years experience and has a background in sales, information technology, and management. He is currently a leading HVAC Specialist and Comfort Consultant at Complete Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing and has a passion for empowering people to make informed decisions regarding their HVAC systems. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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