A lot of people look forward to the fall season. The heat and humidity disappear, multi-colored leaves add beauty to the neighborhood and thoughts turn to preparing for another holiday season. Children and adults alike also look forward to sharing some Halloween fun with friends and family.
But while there are a lot of treats to savor during autumn in the Bay State, there is still the trick of making sure you stay warm and comfortable when outdoor temperatures fall.
Here is a review of what to look for in case your home heating system decides to quit doing its job.
If your home heat stops working and you’ve made sure it is related to your house only—not a wide-scale power outage– your next step should be to check to see if the power switches to your boiler or furnace have been accidentally turned off.
If you find that the power switches for your heating system have been turned off by mistake, simply turn the electrical switches back to the “on” position and your problem should be solved.
In general, there is a power switch located on the side of the heating system or on a wall nearby. Farther away, often at the top of the basement stairs, there is an emergency switch with a red cover plate that is labeled. People will sometimes turn this switch off by mistake, thinking it is the light switch for the basement.
If your power switches are not the problem, check your circuit breaker box to see if all circuit switches are still in the “on” position. Flipping the proper switch to “on” again may be all you need to get your system running again.
However, a circuit breaker rarely ever trips for no reason. If this happens once and never happens again, it may be just a fluke. But if this happens more than once, call for service, as this could indicate a serious problem.
Make sure your thermostat is set above room temperature and to HEAT. Check to see if you need new batteries too. Remember, it is the thermostat’s job to send a signal to your heating oil boiler or furnace to call for heat. But this signal may be interrupted if the wiring of the thermostat has begun to deteriorate. A build-up of dust inside your thermostat is another common reason why your thermostat is not operating correctly.
If you call to order fuel, make sure you keep a close watch on your heating oil tank —especially during a cold snap. Don’t wait until your fuel level gets too low. It’s recommended that you call when your oil tank is about one-quarter full.
To save time and worry, ask your heating oil company about programs that have been designed to significantly lower your chances of running out of fuel, such as automatic delivery.
If all else has failed, press the red reset button on the oil burner. The reset button is a safety control that shuts the burner down if a problem is detected. If your system doesn’t start after you push the reset button the first time, do not push it again. Pushing this button more than once can flood your system with oil, resulting in a costly repair.
If the burner starts but stops again after a few minutes, you should call for service.
If you have a warm-air oil furnace, change/clean the filter on a regular basis during the heating season. A filter clogged with dust compromises efficiency and can cause your furnace to shut down.
If you have a steam oil boiler, check the water gauge periodically. Low water levels are a leading cause for boiler shutdowns. Steam boilers should also be “flushed” when the water in the gauge looks rusty. Talk with your heating oil service provider if you’re not familiar with this procedure.
If you have a hot water oil boiler, make sure the water level of the boiler is at half-full. The boiler’s automatic filling system, controlled by the pressure-reducing valve, should maintain the proper water level at 12 to 15 psi of pressure.
If there isn’t a pressure-reducing valve, manually feed the boiler by opening the water feed valve until the boiler pressure reaches 12 psi.
And of course, you should always schedule professional preventive maintenance (ideally, in the spring when your heating oil service provider is not as busy as now). This will help relieve worry about your furnace or boiler breaking down during the winter. Regular service also improves efficiency, helping you to conserve fuel.
If you still can’t get heat, it’s time to call in a professional to find and fix the problem.
You can always expect a fast and courteous response from your Massachusetts heating oil service company whenever you need help.