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Why Won’t the Heater Turn On?


One of the worst situations you can get into during a Pennsylvania winter is realizing your central heating system isn't working! Several problems could occur in your heating system that usually has a reasonably easy fix. If your heater won't turn on at all though, you likely have a severe problem and should call an HVAC technician, like the experts at McLoughlin Plumbing Heating Air Conditioning

If your heater won’t turn on, ask yourself the following three questions:

  • When was the last time you had it checked?
  • Could this be a thermostat issue?
  • Is the Pilot light on?

When Was The Last Time You Had it Checked?

“heatingcheckup”Heater maintenance is imperative if you hope to avoid things like your heater not starting. Your furnace should be checked, and have routine maintenance done, at least once a year. This will keep your system running at it’s best for longer than if you neglect to have it cleaned and maintained.

Here are some other benefits to having yearly heating system inspections and cleanings:

  • A more efficient heater means you pay less on your monthly energy bill!
  • Keeping the system clean and well maintained makes it safer to use.
  • Having an inspector look at your system gives them a chance to fix any minor issues before they cause a major system breakdown.
  • Keeping the system in good health allows it to have a longer lifespan.

Could This be a Thermostat Issue?

“checkthermostat”When something goes wrong with the central heating or cooling system, most people never suspect that the problem is stemming not from the heater or AC unit itself, but from the thermostat.

Like all mechanical appliances, thermostats don't last forever. It's estimated that after 10 years, you may start to see some issues with your thermostat due to dust accumulation or aging wire connections.

If your heater doesn't turn on, there may be absolutely nothing wrong with the furnace at all. Check that your thermostat is on and that it responds to regular commands. If it does not, you may want to try changing the thermostat batteries (if it is electronic) or dusting the inside of the thermostat with a small cloth (if it is mechanical).

If the heater still doesn't turn on, it may be that the wiring is failing, and the thermostat is unable to tell your heater to turn on. In this case, you can remove the thermostat cover to check that all the wires are properly connected.

This may be dangerous, as it involves electrical currents flowing between the wires, so you may be more comfortable calling the professionals at McLoughlin Plumbing Heating Air Conditioning to help you assess the problem.

Is The Pilot Light On?

“lighton”If your gas-powered furnace won't turn on, check to make sure that the pilot light is on, and that it is burning blue. The pilot light is the small flame that burns continuously to light the burners in your furnace.

If the pilot light is burning inefficiently, your furnace may automatically cut the gas flow, putting the pilot light out. Without the pilot light, your furnace won't turn on.

In this case, you'll likely need to have the furnace repaired or replaced by a professional, to avoid a gas leak in your home.