You wake up one morning and realize, it is a little colder in the house than usual. You go check and find out the heating system is not working.
To save yourself some time and money, here is a list of things to check before calling the service man.
Some of these things may easily solve the issue and get your system back up and running in no time. While other will help you explain to the service company where the issue is. This will help you also understand the some basics to keep you from ripped off.
While checking a gas system, if you smell gas, leave the house immediately, do not anything electrical, such as light switches, etc. Get out, then call 911.
- Check the thermostat first. Is it working? If digital, is it displaying numbers? Do you see a low battery warning? Change batteries and see if that restores heat. If you have an old fashioned thermostat, check that it seems to reflect an approximate temp based on how you feel in the house. Yes, $3 in batteries can save you $100 house call. I replaced mine this week when I dropped it and cracked the LED screen – don’t do that! How to replace a thermostat. It is a bit dorky; excuse my bad singing but you’ll get the point.
- Check the circuit breaker box (or fuse box for those oldies but goodies). Make sure all circuits are on. Hopefully the heater is labeled. When in doubt, push all switches firmly towards the ON position. Power is needed for electric base boards of course, but it powers all the other furnaces too.
- Check the fill gauge on your oil tank. Keep a record of when you order oil and about how long it lasts so you can avoid running out especially in frigid cold weather. Make a simple chart and hang it by the tank. Mark your calendar so you can order on time.
- Check that the switch on the furnace is ON. Sometimes things just happen and someone flipped a switch by accident. Hate to see you pay service crew to flip a switch!
- If you have natural gas heat, make sure the emergency gas supply switch is ON. This switch is often located in a stairwell and labeled with a red plate cover. Kids play with switches just for snorts and giggles! Mine did. So be sure to look before calling your pro.
- If you don’t know where such gauges and switches are, be sure to ask your HVAC person to give you a walk through when he/she comes for service. It is your equipment, ASK questions.
- Look, listen and feel before calling. Do you hear the unit firing up, can you see the pilot flames in the furnace, can you feel air blowing from vents, do you hear water hissing in radiators pipes? Give the pros as much info as you can. Some great advice from diyhipchicks.com
Hanging with the service man and asking some question is always a good idea, but don’t be a pest. A good technician will explain to you the issue and what needs to be done to fix it.