Why Do I Lose Heat When My Power Goes Out?

Date: December 18, 2018

Power outage

Losing your power during a storm almost always means you will also lose your heat. That’s because heating systems will not run without electricity—no matter whether your fuel is heating oil, natural gas, propane or obviously, electricity. (Only some very old heating systems can operate without power).

Tips for managing long power outages

If your home is without power for an extended period of time, it’s a good idea to unplug appliances and turn off circuit breakers. This will prevent electrical surges when the power ramps up again.

Once you have power back, make sure there is no standing water in your basement. If your system requires service to get it started again, for safety reasons it cannot be worked on if water is pooling around it.

If flood water reached your heating system, arrange to have a professional do an inspection before you restart it. The valves and controls are vulnerable to water damage—even if it cannot be seen. Corrosion begins inside the valves, and damage may not be apparent, even if the outside is clean and dry.

If the area around your heating system has remained dry, check that the system’s power switch and circuit breakers are back on before you try restarting your system. Remember not to press your unit’s reset button more than once. Pushing the reset button too many times can flood your system with oil, resulting in a costly repair.

Preparing for a power outage

If a big storm is on the horizon, there’s a strong possibility that you may lose power for a while. Here are a few tips to help you be ready.

  • Charge all communications equipment – cellphones, laptops, tablets, etc.
  • Stock up on bags of ice to preserve perishable food.
  • Withdraw cash and gas up your car; power outages could leave you unable to access these essentials.
  • Clear your storm drains of any debris that could clog and back up rain water (or melted snow).
  • If you have a generator, review manufacturer’s instructions on how to use it safely.