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It’s Getting Hot in Here: 10 Common Heater Issues (And How to Fix Them!)

On average, the cost of heating a home makes up 42 percent of the utility bill.

You pay a lot to keep your home warm, and you should be able to trust that your heater will always do its job, right? In a perfect world, yes. In the real world, you know that doesn’t always happen.

The more aware you are of the things that can go wrong with your heater, the more prepared you’ll be to address them. Listed below are 10 of the most common heater issues one can experience, along with tips on fixing and preventing them.

1. Pilot Light/Ignition Control Issues

There are two ignition systems that are most popular among modern heaters. The first is a hot surface ignition, and the second is an intermittent pilot.

Both of these systems may experience mechanical failures that prevent the proper flow of gas. When this happens, the heat in your home may not be dispersed as evenly as you’d like. You might also find that you’re not getting any heat at all.

Sometimes, problems with the pilot light and ignition control are due to a lack of propane or the gas being shut off. Check to make sure this isn’t the case in your home before you contact a professional.

2. Clogged or Dirty Filters

Your heater’s air filters need to be cleaned on a regular basis. For most people, this means cleaning or changing them a couple of times per year. You might need to change them more often, though, if you have pets.

If air filters are clogged and dirty, this can lead to heat imbalances throughout the home. Your home might also be dustier than usual, and you might notice that allergy symptoms (for you or your family members) are worse.

Stick to a consistent schedule for air filter cleaning or changing to keep your heater working properly and to keep your home clean.

3. Poor Airflow

The most ideal scenario for a heater is for it to heat all areas of your home equally. That doesn’t always happen, though.

If you’re experiencing poor airflow, an issue with the air filter could be the culprit. You might also have a problem with your heaters fan, motor, belts, or bearings.

Check your air filter first to see if it’s clean. If that doesn’t seem to be the problem, contact a professional to have them inspect the other components of your heater.

4. Overrun Heat Pump

If you live in a colder-than-average climate, you might have a heat pump in your home instead of a traditional furnace.

Heat pumps work best in areas that consistently have temperatures below 35 degrees Fahrenheit. If this isn’t the case for your home and the heat pump is always running, it’s doing more work than it can handle.

The heat pump might also be running non-stop because the equipment is undersized or there are problems with the ductwork or refrigerant levels.

You’ll need to call a professional to have them check out your heat pump if you suspect this is the problem.

5. Thermostat Glitches

Sometimes, the problem is not with the heating system itself, but with the thermostat and its ability to control the heating system. Thermostat glitches could cause your heater to run more often than is necessary or to not turn on when you need it to do its job.

Check to make sure your thermostat’s battery is working and that the settings are correct. You may want to consider switching to a programmable or smart thermostat to allow for better temperature control, too.

6. Leaky Ducts

Leaky ductwork can lead to high energy bills and poor heating. The problem is that you often can’t tell when ductwork is the problem until it’s gone on for a while.

To check for leaky ductwork, you’ll need to go into your house’s attic and walk around. Walk by the ductwork and hold out your hand to see if you can feel air leaking anywhere. If you notice any leaks, patch them up right away, or call a professional to patch them.

7. System Won’t Turn Off

If you’ve noticed that your heater never seems to turn off, the solution might be as simple as switching the setting from “on” to “auto.”

If this problem persists, you might have an issue with the blower, which can happen when wiring isn’t plugged in correctly. Resetting the thermostat can also correct this problem in some cases.

If neither solution works, though, replacing your thermostat might be the best call.

8. Mold Growth

Mold growth is a serious problem that can wreak havoc on your health and your family’s health. It can cause headaches, respiratory problems, fatigue, and a whole host of other health issues.

If you notice that mold is growing on or around your furnace, or if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, call a technician to have them thoroughly clean the system. They can clean the ductwork and check your insulation, too.

9. Burning Smell

A burning smell is never a good sign, especially when it comes to your heater. A burning smell could indicate a dirty air filter or a dusty furnace. Get rid of any dust or dirt buildup on your furnace and replace your air filter. If the smell doesn’t improve, call a professional for a more thorough cleaning.

10. Heater Blows Cold Air

Finally, you need to know what to do if your heater is blowing cold air.

Start with the easy stuff:

Check the thermostat to ensure it’s set at the correct temperature
Check and/or change the air filter
Check the pilot light so you can add more fuel if necessary

If none of this works, consider checking for leaky ductwork and patch it up if necessary.

Fix These Common Heater Issues Today

As you can see, there’s a lot that can go wrong when it comes to your home’s heater.

If you keep this list of common heater issues in mind, though, it’ll be much easier for you to get to the bottom of the problem and address it before it grows into something more serious.
Need more home repair or home improvement help? Visit the Home Improvement section of our website today.