What to Do When Your Heater Won’t Turn On

There are few things more frustrating than your appliances not working when you need them to, and heaters are no exception. Your heater is built to last for years and keep you warm all winter, so if it doesn’t turn on, it can cause an alarming feeling. 

The cause of a malfunctioning heater can vary, from a human error to a serious underlying mechanical issue. If your heater won’t turn on, here are a few things you can try in addition to calling a professional:

Check the Thermostat

If your furnace won’t turn on, the first thing you should check is the thermostat. The thermostat is your heater’s control panel, so an issue with the thermostat may prevent the heater from turning on.

There are a variety of things that can go wrong with the thermostat itself — many run on batteries that could have worn out. If yours doesn’t run on batteries, sometimes thermostats can be hard reset after a power outage. If you have a smart thermostat, check to see if it has lost its WiFi connection. 

If you notice an issue with your thermostat after doing a preliminary check, the next step is to call in the professionals. Thermostats today have more built-in technology than ever before, and a heater technician will be in the best position to determine the root cause of the issue.

Check the Temperature Setting

Sometimes when your furnace won’t kick on, it is as simple as a temperature setting issue. If your home is already 76 degrees, but the temperature is set to 74 degrees, your furnace will not kick on. 

You can test the system by temporarily adjusting the thermostat to a temperature that is higher than your current home temperature. If you have a heating and cooling system, another thing you can do is test the cool setting to see if that works. If your heater won’t kick on, but the AC works, that means it is time to call in a professional. 

Check the Gas Supply

If your gas heater won’t turn on, the next step should be to check the gas supply. First, inspect the gas supply valve and make sure it is turned to “on.” Next, you can call your local gas company to check if they are experiencing an outage or another issue in your area.

When it comes to gas-powered appliances, it is always advised to call in a technician sooner rather than later when you are experiencing issues. Gas is an efficient and affordable power source, but it can also be a dangerous one for those not properly trained in gas appliance operation.

Check the Filter

Changing the filter on your heating system can be an easy chore to forget about, but it is a common cause of heater problems. While all types of heaters have filters, dirty filters are a particular problem for electric heaters.

If your electric heater won’t turn on, you should check to see if the filter needs to be replaced. A dirty air filter can obstruct airflow and cause the heating system to get too hot. When this happens, the system’s safety sensors will usually stop it from heating. 

If your heater isn’t turning on but the fan works, this is another good indication that there may be an issue with the filter. 

If you live in an apartment, make sure to check with your landlord about filter responsibilities. Many times, the building or landlord will be responsible for filter maintenance.

Listen for Strange Noises

Most HVAC systems will make some noise. After all, they were not designed to be completely silent appliances. However, some noises can indicate issues with your in-house heater. 

Sometimes malfunctioning heaters will make loud cracking or banging noises that can make it pretty obvious that there is something wrong, but this isn’t always the case. In other cases, you’ll need to listen closely to hear strange noises coming from your heater.

If your furnace won’t turn on automatically or isn’t turning on at all, adjust the thermostat and listen for any unusual noises. Any noises that are out of the ordinary can indicate that something is wrong and will give a technician a clue before they arrive for repairs.

Check the Circuit Breaker

Sometimes the reason your heater won’t turn on is that it isn’t getting power due to a tripped circuit breaker. There are lots of reasons a circuit breaker may be tripped, from overuse to random surges to storms. 

You can usually reset the breaker yourself, and that may restore power to your heater. However, beware that if you are constantly resetting the breaker, it may be a sign of a more serious underlying issue that should be addressed by a professional.

Call TSS for All Your Heating Needs

If you’ve tried all of the tips above but still can’t get your heater to turn on, call TSS Home Comfort right away. We have over 35 years of experience in all aspects of heating systems and can quickly diagnose any system.

Our technicians are fully licensed and handpicked to ensure that they deliver quality, industry-leading services.