Pop quiz: you try to turn on your heater and nothing happens. What do you do? If you answered “call a professional to come look at it” you are correct. If you don’t have expert knowledge, it’s never a good idea to go poking around in a heating system. That being said, there are a few things you could check before you call for heating repair. This probably won’t fix the problem you’re having right now, but it just might help avoid future issues. Let’s take a look at what you should do if your heater breaks down.
Check the Thermostat
The thermostat is the core of your home heating system, much like your brain is the core of you central nervous system. If the thermostat malfunctions, it can cripple an otherwise healthy heating system. As such, it’s a good idea to check your thermostat any time your heating system seems to be acting up. Have a look at the display on your thermostat to make sure that everything is set properly. If the settings all seem correct and the temperature is accurate, then the problem might lie elsewhere.
Check the Pilot Light
All combustion-based heating systems possess some form of pilot light as an ignition source. In most heating systems, this pilot light is a small gas-powered flame that continuously burns underneath the central heating unit. If you have a combustion-based heater and it refuses to light, check the pilot light at the bottom of the heater. If the pilot light is out, that is likely the source of your troubles. Oftentimes, a pilot light that refuses to stay lit is the result of a faulty thermocouple. The thermocouple is a flame sensor that determines when to open the gas valve to the pilot light. If the thermocouple is malfunctioning, it will cut off the fuel supply and smother the pilot light. Fortunately, a professional can replace it fairly easily.