ABC Blog

Why Won’t My Heat Turn On?

A home where the heat won't turn on

When it’s cold out, the last thing you want is to deal with a malfunctioning heater. Unfortunately, there are several reasons why your heater won’t turn on or won’t stay on.

The good news is that homeowners can try easy at-home solutions before contacting professional help. Sometimes the problem is as simple as replacing air filters.

However, the problem can become more serious and require repairs or replacement parts. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to contact a licensed heating professional to look at your system. Scheduling a yearly maintenance check is the best way to ensure your heater will keep you warm all winter.

Why Won’t My Heat Turn On?

There are several reasons why your heat won’t turn on. Luckily, most of them are easy to identify and fix, so you don’t have to stay cold for long.

Regular Maintenance Issues

The leading reason heaters won’t turn on is that they weren’t properly maintained, which is a simple fix. It’s common for homeowners to forget about their heaters during the warm months when they don’t need to use them. However, regular maintenance and upkeep will extend the life of a heater by several years.

Sometimes a comprehensive maintenance appointment is all your heater needs to turn on again.

Additionally, don’t forget to change your air filters. Clogged filters can stop the heat from circulating through your home. It’s important to know how often to change the air filter in your house to maintain your system. Change them at least every three months.

Problems with Your Ductwork

Before you blame your heater, you may need to have someone look at your ductwork. If you recently had your ductwork installed, it is possible that it was installed incorrectly or designed poorly, causing your heater not to turn on.

Sometimes improperly installed ductwork can still work with less efficiency. In other cases, it can stop air flow from properly circulating in your home. As a result, your furnace can short-circuit and potentially overheat.

Even if you haven’t recently had work done on your ductwork, there is still a chance an animal could have gotten into your home and damaged it. Because ductwork is in hard to reach places, it’s best to contact a professional.

Improperly Calibrated Furnace

When manufactured, furnaces are calibrated to burn a specific amount of gas to run efficiently. Sometimes mistakes happen, and furnaces are calibrated improperly and burn too much gas.

If this is the case, the furnace may work for a while before it overheats and won’t turn on. Even when the furnace works, homeowners will pay more for gas because the furnace is burning too much. A yearly maintenance check can ensure that your furnace is properly calibrated before it gives out in the dead of winter.

Dead Blower Capacitor or Other Starting Components

Another common reason your heater won’t turn on is that the starting components are dead. Sometimes a repair is possible, but in other instances homeowners will need to replace their starting components.

Inducer Draft Motor Failure

The inducer draft motor clears leftover gas out of the heat exchanger. It will burn out if it gets too dirty or malfunctions over time. This triggers the heater’s safety switch to turn off the system.

A regular professional maintenance check can catch problems with the inducer draft motor before it fails. The solution may be as simple as cleaning, but a replacement is required in other cases.

a living room in a house in which the heater won't stay on.

What To Do When My Heater Won’t Stay On

Another frustrating problem is when your heater will turn on but not stay on. Before you call a professional to inspect your system, try the following solutions and see if they make a difference.

First, improve the airflow in your home. Replacing your air filters every two or three months could solve the problem. It will turn your heater off when it gets dirty and clogged up.

You can also improve airflow by inspecting your air supply vents. Closed or blocked vents can prevent the heat exchanger from transferring enough heat, which will back up the system and cause your heater to short cycle. Keep all of your vents open, even in rooms that don’t get much use.

A corroded flame sensor is another problem that can cause your heater to shut off. When the flame sensor is too dirty to detect a flame, it will shut off the gas valve and turn off your system.

Lastly, a faulty thermostat may be to blame for your heater malfunctioning. The problem could be with the location of your thermostat, old wiring or dead batteries. Replacing the thermostat is an easy solution.

Contact a reputable HVAC professional today if none of the solutions above are making a difference with your heating system. They can fix the problem quickly so your home can be warm again.

a living room

Types of Home Heating Systems

The best way to understand your heater’s issues is to educate yourself on the various types of home heating systems. Different types have certain advantages and disadvantages, which makes it easier to identify what’s going wrong with your system.

Furnace System

Furnaces are powered by natural gas. They are known as central heating systems because they generate heat in one place and then send it to the home through the air through ducts. Furnaces can make noises, which may be harmless or signal an issue.

Gas furnaces are currently the most popular type of home heating system because they can evenly distribute the heated air throughout the home. However, they are more costly than electric furnaces and don’t last as long.

Radiator Distribution System (Boiler)

A radiator distribution system, also known as a boiler, uses steam pipes to distribute air instead of air ducts. Several older homes and apartment buildings still use this heating system.

The benefit of a boiler system is that you can heat zones instead of an entire residence. However, they are more expensive to install, use and maintain.

Heat Pump System

Instead of generating heat, a heat pump system transfers heat using electricity and refrigerant. They are one of the most efficient heating systems available; however, they are unsuitable for extremely cold climates.

Baseboard Heating System

A baseboard heating system may be enough for moderate climates to stay warm in the winter. In colder climates, they are often used to supplement another heating system. Since they use electricity, they are affordable and efficient.

The downsides to baseboard heating systems are that they can be slow to increase the temperature and limit where you can put furniture.

Steam Radiant System

One of the oldest types of home heating systems, steam radiant systems are made up of tubes placed in the floor, ceiling or walls. The tubes move hot water or electric heat and can be powered by electricity, gas, oil or propane.

These systems are relatively easy to use and last for a long time. However, repairing the systems can get costly, and you will need a separate system for cooling.

Hybrid Heating System

A hybrid heating system combines a heat pump with a gas furnace. The furnace is a backup system for most homes when the heat pump isn’t enough. This option is great for extreme winters.

A hybrid heating system guarantees a warm winter, and since both systems experience less wear and tear, they last for a long time. The downside to this system is that it is expensive to install.

Stay Warm All Winter With Regular Heater Maintenance

Even if you don’t live in frigid climates, the last thing you want is for your home heating system to give out on you during the winter.

Before the cold weather sets in, replace your air filters and have a professional clean your heating system. You should also inspect your air ducts and thermostat to ensure they are doing their jobs.

There are several types of home heating systems, and they each come with pros and cons. Determining which heating system is right for you will depend on where you live, the type of home you live in and your budget.

Schedule a maintenance call with a licensed HVAC pro to avoid potential issues. Not only will they be able to fix any issues and get your heater back on, but they can also help you avoid more costly problems.

ABC Can Make Your Home Comfortable Again

Without a functioning heater, the members of your household can quickly get uncomfortable. If you’re having issues with your unit, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. We can make HVAC repairs, provide preventative maintenance and can even offer honest advice on when to replace your air conditioner.

Tom Riggs

Tom Riggs is the Division Manager for Mechanical Services, overseeing sales and operations for HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Appliance Repair and Water Quality for all ABC Austin branches. He joined ABC in 2014. Before ABC, he was an HVAC Service Technician, HVAC Comfort Advisor/Sales and Operations Manager. Tom attended Universal Technical Institute. He's an avid outdoorsman and enjoys country living with his wife and two sons.

Learn More

Comments are closed.