Dowd Heat and Air Logo

Dowd Heat & Air Blog

Home » blog » Heating » Don’t panic!  What to do when your heater doesn’t work.

Don’t panic!  What to do when your heater doesn’t work.

There is nothing more nerve-wracking than waking up to discover your heater has not been running all night.  It may only happen once in your lifetime, but if it does, it can certainly stop you in your tracks.  Not only will it be difficult to get out of bed when it’s cold, but these things often happen on a weekend or holiday (sometimes both!).

Your first instinct will likely be to reset the entire system, which is really a great first response.  Much like an office IT pro will ask “Have you tried turning it off and back on again?”, this is sometimes all your system needs.  After you switch the system and fan to off, wait one full minute before returning them to their desired positions.  If this does not solve your problem, put on some cozy socks and keep reading.

Your checklist:

  • Are the lights on your display dim or is the display completely blank?  This may indicate that you need to replace the batteries in the wall unit.
  • Check your fuse box to make sure nothing has been tripped.  If there is an interruption in power to your heating system, its built-in safety measures will kick in to protect you and your home and sometimes these just need to be reset.
  • Do a quick retracing of your holiday schedule.  Did you have anyone out to service another part of your home?  Sometimes a furnace or system can be switched off by a repairman who may forget to return something to the on position before leaving the premises.  If this is the case for you, call the service company who came out and speak with them.  Usually even a holiday weekend phone call will not cost you anything if you’ve just had someone out and are checking up on their service call.  Sometimes the technician who performed the work will walk you through checking the switches yourself.
  • Stand next to an air vent to validate if any air is passing through the system at all.  You should be able to hear and feel if the system is allowing airflow.  If you are unsure, or think it may be very faint, you can hold up something light such as ribbon or a strip of paper to verify flow.  If the airflow is light, check your filters.  The winter season is usually the time when air filters will slip a homeowner’s mind.  This is an easy fix, though it may require you to leave the house if you don’t have extras on hand!
  • If you have a smart system in your home, your heat pump may have a low-temp setpoint that is too high for your area.  This is why it is important to work with a company that specializes in servicing your area.  They will have the expertise to place your setpoints at an appropriate temperature for our crazy Oklahoma weather.  Should you choose to call a technician out, they can also check your system in person to make sure nothing has frozen over or physically malfunctioned.
  • “Did you check the pilot light?”  We have all heard this before from well-meaning people in our lives, and it used to be very helpful advice at one time!  Our systems today, though, are a bit more advanced.  Current HVAC systems work on an if-this-then-that formula.  If the temperature reaches a certain degree and the humidity reaches a defined threshold, for example, then the system will call for heat.  In the same way that these criteria have to be met in order for the system to call for heat, if those same criteria are not met, the system will not respond with heat.  This is where our technicians come in handy.  We may even have the ability to remote into your system and check that these setpoints have not been interrupted or had a failsafe deployed.

Common issues in new homes:

If this is your first winter in your new home, be mindful of the learning curve.  Most likely, when you built your home or moved into your new space, the size of your HVAC unit was not at the top of the list of things to concentrate on.  Many times, the unit is simply not the appropriate size for your home.  A previous homeowner may have “made do” in their own way by building fires, etc.  Perhaps your home is a new construction and you are discovering for the first time that heavy winds and low temps are not something your system can handle.  If that is the case, give us a call and we’ll get you up and running to meet the immediate needs of your family.  After you are cozy again, we would be happy to perform an energy audit of your space and give you the best solution moving forward (that also fits your budget).

No matter what your needs and preferences are this winter, we will make sure you are happy and cozy, and empower you with the knowledge to go into every winter season with supreme confidence in your system.

Preventative measures and planning ahead:

An important step for you as the homeowner is to call on your experts in the fall to ensure that all the components of your system are ready to withstand the winter.  We are here to support you in times of emergency, and we also love preparing you for a successful upcoming season without any bumps in the road.

At the end of the day, systems are just like the rest of us…sometimes they just need a little help.  That’s what we’re here for!

Picture of Abby Dowd

Abby Dowd

Business Developer | Dowd Heat & Air