One of the most aggravating things that you could experience during this cold wintertime is your HVAC system not doing its job of heating the house. Imagine with the first blow of cold air and you decided to turn the heater on for the first time in months, but it just won’t run. Or how about you can even hear the heater clicking, but you suddenly realized that warm air isn’t coming out. Or you might have gone out for a while and when you come home, you expect a toasty and comforting home after freezing outside, but your house’s temperature is as frigid as in the outside. Another scenario could be is that your HVAC system is working, but in the middle of the winter, your heater just stopped working, threatening the comfort and safety of your home. All of these scenarios that we have painted are from the experiences of our clients regarding their HVAC system not heating their homes.
Most newer models of an HVAC system are designed with comfort and reliability in mind, whether it’s for cooling or heating the house. This is of course assuming that your HVAC is well-maintained and has been checked regularly. So why does your HVAC not heating the house? The answer could either be fairly simple that you could just troubleshoot by yourself or complicated where you need to have an HVAC contractor to check, assess and repair the issue. Your HVAC system could encounter a variety of problems for the heating to stop working, and some of the most common reasons are poor maintenance, full air filters, thermostat issues, faulty ductwork, and low refrigerant levels.
The good news is there are ways how you can minimize the probability of having heater/HVAC issues. And if by chance you encounter one of these issues, you will have a basic idea of what to look for and identify the next best move in addressing the problem. In this article, we will be discussing the common issues on why your HVAC system is not working in terms of heating the house, as well as common troubleshooting tips that you can before calling your contractor.
What should you check first before calling expert HVAC contractors?
As mentioned, there are times that simple tweaks could be done, and your HVAC system will be up and running to heat your home. A word of caution, if you don’t feel confident especially if related to wirings and system parts, call an experienced HVAC professional immediately to avoid making the issues worst and for your peace of mind. Here are some quick things that you should inspect or do:
- Check your thermostat first – this might seem like a no-brainer, but there are many times that the issue of the HVAC system not working is actually with the thermostat itself. Your thermostat acts as a “communicator”, as it sends signals to your HVAC to either lower or increase the temperature in your home. If there is an issue with the thermostat, then there will be no more prompts or instructions to your HVAC.
- It could be an issue with the wiring inside your thermostat – this is especially true for an older thermostat. You might need to have it repaired or replaced. If in case you are still using an older model of a thermostat, this is high time to consider upgrading to a programmable thermostat, which is a more energy-efficient choice with lots of options for your ease and comfort.
- Not setting the thermostat correctly – you would be surprised to know how many homeowners have wrongly programmed their thermostat or have invertedly reprogrammed it unknowingly at some point, like when cleaning. Check how you set your thermostat first before calling in the pros.
- Batteries – your heating issue could sometimes be solved using a facepalm solution — changing the batteries of your thermostat!
- Checked if your filters are dirty and clogged – did you know that you should change the filter every three months? Your HVAC system is dependent on different parts to work efficiently. One of the most important parts that have a direct impact on the functionality of your system as a whole is the filter. A clogged filter will hinder the air to circulate through the vents. The good news is, filters are not expensive and are fairly easy to acquire; however, many homeowners don’t replace their filters regularly. If you don’t remember when is the last time you changed your filter, then it is an indicator that you left those dirty filters there for so long, so change those filters and see if it works.
- Check for blocked ducts – this is easy to spot if you turn on the heat but some rooms are cold while some are toasty warm. This could mean blocked ductwork. The best thing to do is check the ducts, and if you spot gaps on some sections, seal them with metal duct tape.Aside from the heating not working properly, this will also result in a dent in your budget. Your HVAC will be working overtime to try to constantly compensate, resulting in higher energy bills
- Try to reset your HVAC – check your user manual (or Google if you don’t have one) and reset your system, then try again if your heating will finally work.
If you have done all those checks and troubleshooting to no avail, then you will need an HVAC contractor to solve the issue for you. To give you an idea of the possible reasons, continue reading on.
Here are the common reasons why your HVAC is not heating your house:
- Poor maintenance could be the reason why your HVAC is not working efficiently – annual maintenance goes a long way. HVAC maintenance should be done as preventive measures to ensure that your system is in its optimum condition. Many homeowners don’t think much of their HVAC and often overlook this critical service until a problem occurs. So when the winter season comes, they are suddenly faced with heating issues. Typical maintenance will involve a series of checks to make sure that everything is working efficiently.
The best time for HVAC maintenance is during the off-season so that necessary repairs, replacements, or upgrades won’t cause any interruption to your home’s needs.
Benefits of HVAC maintenance:
- Better system performance
- Reduce wear and tear
- Maintains your system warranty coverage
- Avoid system breakdowns
- Better energy efficiency, lower bills
The typical cost for an entire HVAC check is $150 to $500m but it is worth it, as it saves homeowners from spending in getting a new HVAC unit too soon, and it gives the assurance of comfort and safety for your family.
- An issue with ductwork installation – the reality is, there are some HVAC installers that fail in delivering properly designed ductwork. It could be problems with duct sizing and more, resulting in airflow issues in your home. Make sure that you choose a reputable HVAC contractor to redesign your ductwork.
- Check your circuit breaker – if your HVAC is failing to heat your house, it could be an issue of a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker. The good news is, your circuit breaker is doing its job, but at the same time it is an indicator that there is a problem with your HVAC especially if it still happens after resetting your circuit breaker. Note that once confirmed, call your electrician or HVAC pro to assess the problem, because anything electric-related is not safe for someone with no experience in dealing with this type of issue.
- Leaking or low refrigerant levels – if you have a heat pump in your HVAC and there is no warm air blowing, then having a low refrigerant level could be the culprit. You will need additional refrigerant added to your system that should be done by an HVAC professional. This should be done right away because a too low refrigerant level could cause the compressor of your HVAC to break down. Replacing your compressor will be costlier than recharging your refrigerant or fixing possible leaks.
- Possible gas leaks – if your HVAC unit uses gas to heat your home, then gas leaks are possible. A gas leak could happen if there is an issue with your gas lines like cracks or disconnection. If you have gas leaks, a simple “smell check” could determine it. If you notice the smell of rotting eggs or the smell of gas, then call your HVAC contractor immediately. This is something that you should take seriously and needs immediate response because it can cause explosions.
There is nothing more stressful than you’re heating not working in the middle of a harsh cold season. You may now have ideas on how to troubleshoot and possibly identify issues with your HVAC. Yes, there are some simple fixes, but as always, it will be best to leave it to the professionals especially if you are unsure and dealing with issues that need technical know-how.
Tip: When looking for contractors, make sure that they have a license, good safety records, proof of insurance, and 24-hour emergency service if possible.
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