While winters around San Antonio are fairly mild, you still need your heating system to keep your family comfortable during the colder months. As we’ve seen, there are crazy winter storms that even hit Texas, and one of these can be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back and causes your heating to fail. In addition to calling for a technician to evaluate your system, here are some other steps to take if your heat goes out.
What Are the Symptoms?
Before discussing what you should do if your heat goes out, it’s important to define our terms. If your system completely refuses to start, that would obviously mean that your heat has gone out. However, there are other scenarios that also qualify. Perhaps you have little or no air coming from your vents. It could also be that the air coming from your vents is cooler than it should be or that it doesn’t feel warm at all. These are all varying circumstances in which you lose your heat, and there are very different things you should do when they occur.
Check Your Thermostat
A good place to start is always at your thermostat since this is the master control for your furnace. Most thermostats are now battery-powered, so start by checking to make sure your batteries are good. Generally, you should plan to change these batteries about every six months, so if it’s been a while, change them and see if that solves the problem.
Next, check to make sure your temperature settings are correct and that the time setting on the thermostat matches the actual time. It may be that your program and time are out of sync from the current time of day.
If it’s cold air you feel blowing from your vents, make sure the fan is set to “Auto.” While set to “On,” the fan will run regardless of whether the furnace is producing heat. This leads to cool air coming from your vents.
Check Your Circuit Breaker
If your furnace fails to initialize at all, check your circuit breaker to make sure it hasn’t tripped. Your HVAC system is normally on a circuit of its own, so you may not notice anything else off in your house.
That said, if it did trip, be cautious of just restarting it. Circuit breakers prevent too much electricity from flowing through a circuit, which could overheat and possibly cause a fire. Circuits sometimes trip when there’s been a power surge, such as when power is restored after a storm.
If you find a tripped breaker, turn your HVAC system off at the thermostat, and then attempt to reengage the breaker. In the event that it immediately trips again, leave it alone, and call for help troubleshooting the issue.
If it stays engaged, turn your system back on, and see if it trips the breaker again. If it doesn’t trip while operating your furnace, you can continue to run the unit as long as you keep a close eye on it until you’re sure there’s no problem.
Inspect Your Air Filter
Your air filter can be the culprit behind many problems with your furnace, including a lack of air flowing from your vents. If it’s bad enough, it may even cause what little air that comes from your vents to be cooler than normal.
If your furnace turns on, but you aren’t getting enough heating power, check to make sure your filters are clean. The common filters need to be replaced about every 90 days, sometimes more often in the dry winter climate. If your filter is a little dirty, try gently vacuuming the intake side to see if that resolves your problem.
Many problems aren’t necessarily tied to the filter, but it’s an inexpensive and easy fix. Always start with the thermostat and filter. If those two items don’t resolve your issue, consider these steps to keep you safe and a little warmer while waiting for your service call.
Turn Off Your Gas Supply
Start by turning the gas supply off to your furnace. Even if you don’t smell gas, there are risks associated with leaving it on, including carbon monoxide.
Look for the metal tubing that runs to a square metal box on your furnace. There should be a red dial on the box with the words “On,” “Off” and “Pilot.” You want to turn this to the “Off” position, which is perpendicular to the gas supply line.
Close Off as Many Rooms as Possible
When your furnace isn’t working, you want to conserve as much heat as you can. Go through your house and close as many doors as possible. Put blankets or towels at the bottom of the doors to prevent heat from leaking.
Try to find a smaller area that will still give you access to your kitchen and bathroom but where you can limit airflow. Hang a long blanket or heavy curtain at the entryway to the room. This will help limit airflow to the rest of the house, conserving the heat within that room. If at all possible, use a room with a fireplace to provide a source of heat.
Light Your Fireplace
If you have one, don’t waste much time before lighting your fireplace. If the heat has gone out, just be sure to turn the gas to your furnace off first to reduce the risk of igniting a possible gas leak.
When you do light your fireplace, be sure to preheat your flue to encourage proper drafting up the chimney. You do this by lighting something small and getting the flame very close to the chimney opening to push the heat and smoke up. This starts the proper drafting cycle, drawing the smoke and soot up the chimney instead of pushing it back into your home.
Use Your Oven
Consider baking something in the oven while the heat is out. Even well-insulated units will warm up the kitchen. Just be sure to seal off the room as much as you can to conserve as much heat as possible in a single space. Not only will you enjoy a little warmth, but your family will also enjoy a treat you might not have made otherwise.
Exercise Caution With Portable Space Heaters
You may want to get some portable space heaters running. However, be cautious with where and how you use them.
First, never use kerosene or natural gas space heaters in an enclosed space. You could easily end up dealing with a carbon monoxide problem.
For ceramic electric heaters, be cautious where you plug them in. Be sure it is clear of any water sources to prevent shorting it out. Furthermore, be careful with what else is on the circuit because these heaters have a large electrical draw. If you have too much on the circuit, you’ll also end up with problems tripping your breaker.
People around San Antonio have trusted Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating to keep their families safe and comfortable since 2017. Our NATE-certified technicians provide heating and air conditioning installation, maintenance and repairs. We also handle air duct cleaning and repair as well as indoor air quality solutions. Call to today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert technicians.