Why Did My Heat Stop Working?

Date: February 5, 2019

Cold couple bedroom

In our previous post, we explained why most people lose their heat whenever there is a power outage. But, of course, that’s only one reason why you may wake up one morning and discover your heat has stopped working.

While there are many types of malfunctions that can cause your system to operate poorly (or not operate at all) most of the problems outlined below are not only quite common, but relatively easy to fix.

Here are five other common reasons why you may lose your heat.

1. Tripped circuit breaker or power switches turned off

If your heat stops working, these are among the first things you should check. First, it often happens that the power switches for the heating system have been turned off by mistake. Simply turn the electrical switches back to the “on” position and your problem may be solved.

If that’s not the problem, going to the circuit breaker box and flipping the proper switch may be all you need to get your system running again, but please keep this in mind: A circuit breaker rarely ever trips for no reason. If this happens once and never happens again, consider it a fluke. But if this happens more than once, you should contact a professional for service, as this could be a sign of a serious problem.

2. Faulty thermostat

Many instances of heating systems not working can be traced to the thermostat, which sends a signal to your boiler or furnace to generate heat. But these signals may get erratic if the wiring is deteriorating. A build-up of dust inside your thermostat is another common culprit. You may also need to change the batteries in your thermostat.

3. Dirty air filters

If you have a warm-air furnace, change or clean the filter on a regular basis during the heating season. Dust and dirt are the natural enemies of your furnace; a dirty filter compromises efficiency and can even cause your furnace to overheat and then shut down.

4. Boiler problems

Boiler systems, also known as hydronic systems, heat water for circulation around your home. Heat is radiated through either radiators or baseboard convectors. Boiler systems are more complex than warm-air furnaces because there are more parts, valves and controls.

When problems do occur, they are usually related to the expansion tank or water circulation pumps. Fixing these types of problems should be left to a professional. One thing you can do is to make sure your boiler has the proper water level. If the water level is too low, your boiler may shut down.

5. You ran out of oil

This is more common than you would expect. Most people have busy careers and multiple family obligations so it’s easy to lose track. We recommend you call for your fuel when you reach ¼ full to avoid a run-out. Think of it this way: When you’re on a quarter, order!

If you don’t want to spend time reading your tank gauge and placing an order when you need more fuel, your oilheat company may be able to set you up on an automatic delivery schedule.
Your heating oil supplier will estimate when your next delivery is needed based on computer modeling and your past usage. In most cases, they will get your heating oil to you when your tank is about one-quarter full.