Troubleshooting a Broken Heating System

Nov 30, 2020

As homeowners begin to switch on their heating systems for the first time of the season, this time of year is when many begin to see heater issues emerge. While a broken heating system is not ideal, there are easy ways to troubleshoot potential problems.

Thankfully, the fall season is the perfect time for heater repairs and maintenance visits. This lets you avoid having your heating system shut down during severe weather and peak service seasons. So what should you check for when your heating system stops working?

Here is a closer look at troubleshooting a broken heating system, brought to you by the HVAC professionals at Newcomb and Company.

Thermostat Checks

The first step in troubleshooting a broken heating system is to check the thermostat. Thermostat troubles may make it seem like your heating system is experiencing problems. Thankfully, thermostat checks are simple to complete and often easy to correct. Common questions to consider include:

  • Is your thermostat turned on?
  • Is the screen lit up or do you have a thermostat blank screen?
  • Is it switched over to “heat” instead of “cool”?
  • Is your thermostat programmed to a comfortable setting?

You also want to ensure that your thermostat has been calibrated recently by a professional. This process involves making sure that your thermostat is reading the temperature of your home properly so it can adjust your indoor climate accordingly. Thermostat calibration is included in your routine heating system maintenance.

Tripped Breaker or Blown Fuse

Next, if you find that your heating system is shut off entirely, take a moment to check your breaker. Tripped breakers or blown fuses may be a sign of a heater issue or an electrical issue (such as an overwhelmed circuit). Here is a closer look at what it means when your HVAC system blows a fuse or trips a breaker.

Heat Distribution Checks

Finally, check to ensure that your vents are all allowing free airflow from your heating system. Common considerations include:

  • Do you have clean air filters in place?
  • Are all of your air vents open and unobstructed?

Dirty air filters and obstructions will block your airflow, making it seem like your heating system is broken. They may also create stress for your heating system, which can create real system issues.

If none of these checks reveal your heating system issue, you may need to contact your local Newcomb and Company technicians for support.

Common Heat Pump Issues

Beyond the basic thermostat and distribution checks, the next stage of heating system troubleshooting requires expert care. It also will depend on the type of system you have: heat pump or furnace.

Heat pump issues can source from any broken or disrupted element of your heating system, including your fan, blower, motor, refrigerant, coils, compressor, electrical connections, and safety controls, among others. Here is a closer look at the three most common heat pump issues:

Low Refrigerant Levels

While you may think that refrigerant is only necessary for your AC system, this substance also plays an important role in your heat exchange. The refrigerant moves heat from one coil set to another. In the winter, it absorbs heat from your outdoor (condenser) coil and transfers it to your indoor (evaporator) coil. As such, without proper refrigerant levels, your heat pump cannot operate properly.

Dirty Coils

As mentioned above, your evaporator coil and your condenser coil both play an essential role in your unit’s heat exchange process. These coils often acquire buildup, which makes your furnace work harder to exchange heat. Your indoor evaporator coil can collect dust and other air contaminants, while your outdoor condenser coil can collect dirt and debris. Without regular, professional cleaning, dirty coils can make your unit inefficient and ineffective.

These issues can be detected early or prevented altogether with annual heater maintenance. In addition to deterring costly repairs, heater maintenance can also save you money with lower energy bills. According to the Department of Energy, neglected heat pumps can become 10%-25% less efficient than heat pumps that receive expert maintenance.

Compressor Troubles

Your air compressor works to pump the refrigerant between your indoor and outdoor coils. When your compressor is not facilitating the heat exchange between your coils, your unit will not function properly. Compressor issues are often signified by loud, unusual noises when your heat pump is running.

Common Furnace Issues

Furnace systems are also prone to a variety of different disruptions in functioning. An expert will need to take a closer look to troubleshoot your furnace issues, but here is an overview of the three of the most common furnace problems:

Dirty Burners

Your furnace burners can collect buildup over time, which will block gas from flowing between your burners. Without this exchange, your furnace cannot fuel the combustion process, which is why your burners must be inspected and cleaned annually by an expert.

Improper Venting or Draft

Oxygen is drawn into your furnace to fuel the combustion process, which produces carbon monoxide that must be vented out of your home. Maintaining this airflow of oxygen intake, heat distribution, and CO2 discard is important to proper furnace functioning as well as furnace safety. Improper furnace draft or venting will create inefficient or ineffective furnace functioning, on top of hazardous concerns.

Equipment Failure

Your furnace relies on a variety of equipment pieces, which all must work properly to maintain furnace functioning. Primarily, your furnace pilot, ignitor, thermocouple, blower, and motor all must be in good working order for your furnace to warm your home. You may also be experiencing furnace electrical or connection issues.

Newcomb and Company Heating System Repairs

When your heating system stops working, the local technicians at Newcomb and Company are here for you. Our experts proudly serve the heater repair, maintenance, and replacement needs of Raleigh, Wilmington, and surrounding areas, including Knightdale, Clayton, Garner, Cary, Castle Hayne, Leland, and beyond. Make your appointment with our experts to get experienced and reliable heating services today!

Need help? Call now.