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Having Trouble Turning on Your Heater?


If your central heating system won’t turn on, it may be caused by any number of issues, ranging from a poorly maintained heater to a faulty thermostat, to a potentially dangerous issue with your furnace’s gas supply. The highly-trained technicians at John Stevenson Plumbing & Mechanical Inc. have seen their fair share of heating problems over the years and can help you figure out just why your central heating system may be acting up.

You Maybe Overdue For a Checkup

The first question to ask when your heater is acting up is “when was the last time my heater was inspected and tuned-up?” If it has been more than a year, that may be a reason why you can’t get it to turn on. Yearly furnace inspections help your heating technician see and address potential issues within your system before they become a major problem, saving you hundreds of dollars in costly repairs, as well as extending the life of your heater. They also keep your heating system running efficiently, so they use less energy to heat your home, leading to lower energy bills. Inspection by a qualified and experienced professional can also help you prevent serious issues like fire hazards and dangerous, potentially fatal, gas leaks.

Your Thermostat Could be The Real Problem

Over time, your thermostat may start to give out due to an accumulation of dust behind the cover, or just aging wire connections. When this happens, the thermostat stops being able to communicate with your heater, and therefore may not be able to tell it to turn on. In this case, there’s nothing wrong with your system at all, and the problem can be solved in one of the following ways:

  • If you have an electronic thermostat, try changing out the batteries.
  • If you have a mechanical thermostat, remove the cover and clean out some of the dust that may have accumulated there.
  • This may get your thermostat working again.
  • If neither of the above worked, remove the thermostat cover and check the connections. If everything seems to be correctly connected, but the heater still won’t turn on, you may be in need of a new thermostat.

Your Pilot Light May Have Gone Out

If you have a gas or oil furnace, the reason your furnace won’t turn on maybe a burned out pilot light. The pilot light is a small blue flame that stays continuously lit, to ignite the larger burners on the furnace. Sometimes, the light can be blown out by a strong draft and will need to be relit before the furnace can turn on again. When the blue flame of the pilot light starts to burn yellow, it means that the flame is not burning efficiently. Today, most gas furnaces come equipped with a thermocouple that will cut the gas supply when the pilot light begins to burn inefficiently, to protect you and your loved ones from a dangerous gas leak. So if your pilot light has gone out, try re-lighting it. If it won’t light, or it lights a yellow flame, call a professional HVAC technician to see about diagnosing and repairing the issue.

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