Why Is My Heater Not Working Properly?

November 8, 2019 11:59 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

One of the most common questions we receive from our clients during the fall and winter is, “Why is my heater not working?” The answer to this depends largely on the individual circumstances each client is having. What are the symptoms you’re experiencing with your HVAC system? From there, we can start to diagnose the problem and recommend the best solution.

Here are a few of the most common heater problems in Portland, OR reported by our clients, and some of the potential causes.

Blowing cold air

If the heating system is blowing cold air instead of warm air, this is obviously a problem. You should first make sure the system is set to heat instead of cool, and that the fan setting is on “auto.” Check the temperature setting on the thermostat, and make sure the breaker is on.

If you’ve checked all of these things to verify the proper settings and are still having problems, there are several issues that could exist in your HVAC system. Something could be blocking the warm air from coming through your home, or the air filter may be dirty, which can make for less efficient operation. The pilot light might not be lit, which would prevent the unit from producing warm air. There might also simply be ductwork issues—leaking ducts let the warm air out before it can circulate around your home.

Cold spots

Do you notice that some areas of your home are colder than others while your heat is running? There are a few potential causes of this issue. There might be inadequate insulation in the room, particularly if the room is located right above or adjacent to an uninsulated area of the home. Old windows can also be a problem, allowing outdoor air to make its way inside. Finally, the ducts leading to a certain room might be leaking, which could be causing those cold spots.

Constantly running furnace

Your heating system shouldn’t have to run constantly to give you the results you need—it should instead cycle on and off regularly over the course of a day. If you have the fan setting at “on” rather than “auto,” this will result in the blower running constantly, even if the furnace isn’t sending up hot air. But if that’s not the issue, then the problem is likely either with the thermostat or the blower. The thermostat will be an easier problem to fix, but in either case an HVAC professional will be able to diagnose and resolve the problem for you.


If you notice a burning smell in your furnace, it is important that you act quickly. This isn’t going to be as big of a concern the first time you run the furnace for the season—it’s likely the system will have gathered dust throughout the year that it will then burn off when you start it up. But you should never smell burning with regular use.

For more information about potential problems with your heating system, contact L & J Heating & Cooling to discuss the possible need for furnace repairs in Portland, OR.

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