Why is my heater blowing cold air?
During the colder months of the year, your HVAC system becomes one of the most-used appliances in your home. But if your heater starts blowing out cold air, don’t panic. It’s quite possibly a minor issue, one that you might even correct yourself before you have to call in the professionals.
There can be a variety of reasons why your heater is doing the exact opposite of what you expect it to do, but let’s start by looking at three common malfunctions.
1. Thermostat issue
Regardless of the furnace type, the thermostat should be one of the first places to check if the unit starts to blow cold air. First, make sure your thermostat is on and set to the correct mode of operation (i.e. HEAT in winter; COOL in summer). Check and replace batteries, if your thermostat has them. If your heater is still not operating properly, it’s time to call in an HVAC professional.
There are some impressive thermostats available today, some that work with occupant sensors for energy efficiency, others are wifi-based so that they can be programmed and operated via phone apps; others can be paired with sensors to minimize temperature swings within your home. Most HVAC contractors can install a new thermostat for under $300 dollars, and your utility provider may even offer rebates for energy-saving models.
2. Tripped circuit breaker
All HVAC systems need electricity to operate but a momentary malfunction, such as a power surge, can sometimes cause the circuit breaker to trip. So if your furnace isn’t providing warm air, check inside your electrical panel breaker for a tripped breaker (it will look slightly misaligned). To reset the breaker, turn the switch off and then back to ‘ON’ position; and then give your heater a few minutes to respond.
It’s important to note that if your circuit breaker trips repeatedly after being reset, it’s definitely time to call in an HVAC professional as this could be a sign of a more serious condition, including damaged wiring, a loose electrical connection, ground fault, or overloaded circuit.
3. Damaged ductwork
To heat your home, warm air travels from your heater through a network of ductwork into each room. Most ductwork is installed in the ‘unseen’ places of your home like your attic or crawlspace, so it’s easy to overlook ductwork problems. But if the air that blows out the supply air grilles is cold or weak, then you may have damaged ductwork. In the Bay Area, rodents are often the cause of ductwork damage, but it can also occur if there’s been other work performed in the same area, or even with age settlement of the home. Ductwork repairs are often quick and inexpensive, and best performed by a licensed HVAC contractor. The California Energy Commission estimates that home heating systems lose 30-40% efficiency through leaky ductwork. Don’t waste your hard-earned money heating your attic or crawlspace! Your trusted HVAC technician can make those ductwork repairs to help keep your home toasty AND perhaps reduce your energy bills, too.
These are just some of the more obvious reasons your heater may not be working up to par. If you’re still having trouble, contact a licensed, reputable HVAC company for a professional diagnosis and repair.
And our #1 recommendation: sign up with our Superior Service Club for twice-yearly HVAC maintenance now to make sure your HVAC system is always in the best shape. Our 18-point inspection and maintenance will give you peace of mind for a safe and efficient-operating heater. Feel free to contact us anytime for an estimate.