Posted: October 19, 2020
While there are many types of situations that can cause your heating system to operate poorly—or not work at all—there are some problems that occur a lot. Fortunately, these are easy and inexpensive to fix—or to avoid altogether.
If your heat stops working and you’ve confirmed that there isn’t a power outage in your neighborhood, your next step should be to check for a tripped circuit breaker or see if the power switches to your boiler or furnace have been accidentally turned off.
If you find that power switches for your heating system have been turned off by mistake, simply turn the electrical switches back to the “on” position and your problem may be solved. If only all solutions were that easy!
There is a power switch located on the side of the heating system or on a wall nearby. In addition, farther away, often at the top of the basement stairs, there is an emergency switch with a red cover plate that is labeled. People will sometimes turn this switch off by mistake, thinking it is the power switch for the basement light.
If your power switches are not the problem, check your circuit breaker box to see if all circuit switches are still in the “on” position. Flipping the proper switch to on again may be all you need to get your system running again.
However, please keep this in mind: a circuit breaker rarely ever trips for no reason. If this happens once and never happens again, it may be just a fluke. But if this happens more than once, contact us for service, as this could indicate a serious problem.
Many instances of heating systems not working can be traced to the thermostat, whose job it is to send a signal to your boiler or furnace to call for heat. But this signal may be interrupted if the wiring of the thermostat has begun to deteriorate. A build-up of dust inside your thermostat is another common reason why your thermostat is not operating correctly. Another thing to look for are weak batteries in the thermostat.
If you have a warm-air furnace, change or clean the filter on a regular basis during the heating season. Dust and dirt are the natural enemies of your furnace; a dirty filter compromises efficiency and can even cause your furnace to shut down.
If you have a steam boiler, check the water gauge periodically. Low water levels are a leading cause for boiler shutdowns. Steam boilers should also be “flushed” when the water in the gauge looks rusty. Talk with us if you’re not familiar with this procedure.
If you have a hot water boiler, make sure the water level of the boiler is at half-full. The boiler’s automatic filling system, controlled by the pressure-reducing valve, should maintain the proper water level at 12 to 15 psi of pressure. If there isn’t a pressure-reducing valve, manually feed the boiler by opening up the water feed valve until the boiler pressure reaches 12 psi.
And of course, you should always schedule preventive maintenance from us so you don’t have to worry about your furnace or boiler breaking down during the winter. Annual service will also improve efficiency, helping you to conserve fuel.
If you call us to order fuel, make sure to check your heating oil or propane tank regularly—especially in the middle of a cold snap. You should call us before your fuel level gets too low. We recommend calling when your oil tank is about one-quarter full or when your propane gauge reaches 30%.
To save time and worry, consider enrolling in automatic delivery to lower the chances of running out of fuel. You can reduce that risk further by combining automatic deliveries with a propane or oil tank monitor. This device wirelessly monitors your fuel usage so we will always know the actual amount of fuel in your tank. If you download an app to your phone, you can monitor your fuel levels too.
Always feel free to contact us if you have any concerns or questions about staying safe and warm this winter. Remember, we’re the people you can trust.