Common Heater Problems

September 06th, 2022
Common Heater Problems

There’s nothing better than rushing into your house to escape the Melbourne chill on a cold winter day. And there’s nothing worse than realising that your heater isn’t working so you’ve barely escaped the cold!

The kind of problems that your heater is having can range from minor to extreme. Your system might just need a little tweaking, or it might require professional repairs or replacements. Before you automatically assume the latter, check out our guide to some of the most common issues with heating systems and what might be causing them.

Whether you have ducted heating in Camberwell, hydronic heating in Lilydale, or another heating and cooling system, this guide is here to help you.

Uncover the cause of your heating troubles and take the next step today!

1. The Heater Is Emitting Air That Is Not Heated

If you have noticed that your heater is contributing to the cold instead of warming up the room, the first thing to do is turn it off.

If you have a gas system like a gas ducted heater, check to make sure your house hasn’t had a gas interruption. A lack of fuel is one of the most common causes of heating malfunctions of any kind.

After this, check air filters to see if there is a blockage or a collection of dust and debris. If so, try giving them a clean. Don’t attempt to stick any foreign objects (including your fingers) into the vents or other internal parts of your heating system.

Other potential reasons your heater may be emitting cold air include damage to different parts of the system, such as the ductwork, the pilot light, a faulty heating element, or problems with other internal components. If the basic fixes mentioned above don’t solve your problem, you will need professional guidance. Always speak to an expert and never attempt to fix your heater yourself.

2. Controls Are Not Functioning

Depending on the type of heating system you have, there are various steps you can take to fix malfunctioning controls. In some cases, the issue will be as simple as a battery change, so be sure to check your remote control before going any further. If you have a wall-mounted control that’s not working, you may need a professional technician to come and look at it.

For portable space heaters where the controls are located on the unit, you can always try unplugging it and plugging it back in (that’s right, the old turn it on and off again). Other heating systems can’t be unplugged, but leaving them switched off for 5-10 minutes before turning them back on can sometimes solve the problem. In some cases, you can also reset the system using your wall-mounted controller or the buttons on the unit. Refer to manufacturer instructions to reset your system.

If your controller problem persists, it may have something to do with the wiring or other electrical issues. If this is the case, get in touch with a qualified heating and cooling technician.

3. Inconsistent Thermostat

Are you concerned that your thermostat is displaying one temperature but your heater is producing a completely different temperature? Inconsistencies with the thermostat are fairly common and could indicate an issue with the wiring, blown fuses, faulty heating elements, or another heating problem.

This one is best left to the professionals, so call Australian Climate Systems if you’re concerned that your thermostat and your heater aren’t living up to their end of the deal!

4. Heater Fan Is Not Functioning

If your heater fan is faulty, you can take the tried and tested steps listed above such as switching off and restarting your system and checking the settings on your wall controller. You can also check your fuse box for signs of a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse.

If none of these culprits is to blame, your fan or fan motor may need repairing or replacement. A damaged belt or malfunctioning motor should be looked at by a professional.

A faulty heater fan can also lead to weak airflow, but airflow issues won’t always be caused by your fan. Before jumping to that conclusion, make sure that your vents are open and your filters are clean. In some cases, a professional clean and service may be all your system needs to get its airflow back on track.

5. Heater Is Slow to Start or Short Cycling

If your heating system is constantly switching itself on and off, this is called short cycling. This phenomenon is common in heat pump heating and cooling systems such as split system heaters.

Clogged filters may be the cause of constant short cycling, but deeper system problems may also be to blame. Thermostat issues may also be behind your short cycling problems, and in some cases, professional maintenance and repair is the only way to get to the bottom of the issue. If your split system is the wrong size or it has been poorly installed in the first place, that could even be to blame!

If a filter clean and change doesn’t fix your short cycling, call in a professional to do the job. Slow starting systems may also be related to short cycling or other system issues that need to be professionally addressed.

6. Uneven Heating

Are parts of your home becoming a sauna while others are left out in the cold?

Once again, the first thing you want to do to address uneven heating is to check your filters. If they need to be cleaned and/or changed, this could be the cause. Next, take a look at the vents on ducted systems and ensure they are all open and ready to blow out warm air.

If neither of these steps solves the issue, calling a professional is your best course of action.

7. Your Heater Is Making Strange Noises

All heating and cooling systems make a little bit of noise, from ducted heaters to gas log fires. However, if you’re hearing constant odd noises and unusual sounds, you should switch off your system and take action!

It can be difficult to diagnose and solve strange noises coming from your heater. Squeaks, hisses, pops, and banging noises could all indicate loose internal parts or other system problems. Don’t use your heater if it’s making an odd noise that doesn’t go away! Instead, call in the professionals for further advice. 

8. Your Energy Bills Are On the Rise

Linking an increase in your energy bills to your heater can be a tricky situation. You need to make sure you’re not using your heater more and that you’re not using it differently. For example, increasing your thermostat by just a few degrees can make a big difference to your overall gas bill or electricity bill.

As well as this, you need to make sure your energy retailer hasn’t increased your supply or usage costs.

It’s certainly possible that an increase in energy bills could be connected to problems with your heater. If you believe you’re getting higher bills for the same or worse heating performance, contact a professional today. Your system may need repairs or maintenance, or age may just be catching up with it! If this is the case, a replacement may be recommended. 

9. Your Heater May Have Low Levels of Refrigerant 

Heat pump systems like reverse cycle heating utilise refrigerant gas to heat and cool the home. The idea that these systems need constant re-gassing is actually a bit of a myth because they are fully sealed units that continually reuse the same refrigerant. 

However, if refrigerant is escaping from your unit for some reason, it could be causing many of the issues listed above and below, from higher energy bills to airflow problems to blowing out cool air. Refrigerant leaks can be dangerous, too.

If you suspect a refrigerant leak is to blame for your heating issues, do not attempt to fix the system and call a professional straight away. Refrigerant leaks MUST be handled by a licensed HVAC technician.  

10. Your Heater Is Producing High Levels of Dust

Many people are concerned with the presence of dust in or around their heating units. Heaters don’t produce dust on their own, but they can begin circulating it if there is excess dust in the air. The first step is once again to change your dirty air filters. As well as this, it may be worth cleaning areas around your home where dust tends to gather, such as on shelves, behind couches, or even within the vents themselves if you have a ducted heating system.

If dust problems persist, the next step is to call a professional.

11. You Can Smell Your Heater

If your heater is emitting strange smells or liquids, call a professional immediately. Severely faulty heaters can be a health risk, and strange, persistent odours are one of the most common signs to look out for.

If your heater smells like gas, it is important to act fast as you may be dealing with a gas leak. Switch off the heater and also switch off the gas supply in the furnace. Following this, call a trained professional as a matter of urgency.

If your heater has a burning smell, you should also turn it off immediately, leave it switched off and call a professional.

A musty or unpleasant smell coming from your heater is not as much of an urgent issue. This is probably a sign that the filters need replacing and/or your system needs a thorough and professional clean.

Any liquids coming from your system should be treated with extreme caution. As discussed above, these liquids could be refrigerant if you have a heat pump system. Either way, the best course of action is to turn off your system and stay away from the liquid until a professional can take a closer look.

12. Your Heater Is Old (and it’s starting to show)

An old heating system is often the cause of all your heating issues. If your heater has been serving you for 20 years or more, it’s amazing that it’s lasted for that long but it should now be replaced. Generally speaking, systems that are 10 years or older should be looked at and replacements should be considered.

The older your heater gets, the more likely it is to experience malfunctions, worn-out parts, flagging performance, and related problems. As well as this, older systems will quickly get left behind in terms of heating technology, meaning your heater won’t be as energy efficient, affordable, or environmentally friendly as it could be.

If your older heater continues to have problems, take this as a sign that you should consider a replacement. 

Maintaining Your Heater: A Checklist for You and the Professionals

The 12 common heater problems listed above all have one thing in common. There are steps you can take to minimise the likelihood that they will affect your home.

Here are a few things you can do to take care of your heater:

  • Monthly air filter cleaning or replacement during peak periods of use
  • Regular visual inspections of your indoor units and outdoor units
  • Increase insulation and reduce drafts in the home
  • Regular cleaning around the home to reduce dust, including the inside of your vents
  • Check vents are open when you have airflow issues
  • Check your fuse box, circuit breakers, remote batteries, and power supply to ensure heating issues aren’t related to power problems
  • Reset or switch the system off and on to try and troubleshoot common issues

Here are a few things you should leave to the professionals:

Do You Have Heater Problems? Talk to Australian Climate Systems!

Whether your heater needs a little reboot or a full replacement, Australian Climate Systems can help you! 

We can assist you with everything from ducted heating services and repairs to hydronic heating services. Our team specialises in Brivis gas heater service and repair, Vulcan gas heater service and repair, Bonaire gas heater service and repair, as well as Rinnai, Panasonic, and LG heating and cooling products. And that’s just scratching the surface of what we can do for you.

To get your heater working perfectly again, contact our professionals today.

Need advice?Call: 03 9726 4444
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