During periods of extreme cold—like Massachusetts went through last winter—it can be very stressful when you realize your heat has stopped working. Before calling your service company, keep in mind that there are many types of malfunctions that can cause your system to operate poorly (or not operate at all). The problems explained below are not only quite common, but are relatively easy and inexpensive to fix. Sometimes, you may be able to solve the problem on your own.
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, contact your local oilheat company as this could be a sign of a serious problem.
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 just need to change the batteries in your thermostat.
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 shut down. And if you are experiencing uneven temperatures from room to room, your system dampers may be unbalanced. Adjustments are needed to improve air flow through your duct system. Another common problem with ducts is air leakage.
If you are experiencing heating problems, please contact your local oilheat company and they will be glad to help.