There may be several reasons why your heating system just will not turn on when it's supposed to. To find out the exact cause may take a bit of trial and error. The first thing you should look at is when your last heating inspection was.

If you've recently had the heater checked by a professional and they found nothing wrong with it, maybe check to make sure your thermostat is working correctly.

If your furnace's maintenance is up to date, and the thermostat is working fine, check to see that the pilot light hasn't gone out. Read on to learn a little more about how to check for each of the above problems in your heating system.

1. You’re Overdue For a Checkup

Again, if you have recently had a heating technician come out to inspect, clean, and tune up your heater, then you can skip this section. This one is for the people who haven’t had their heating system checked in over a year.

Skipping out on your annual heater maintenance check can result in problems like:

  • Higher energy bills.
  • Shorter life expectancy for your system.
  • Increased risk of breakdown.
  • Higher chances of experiencing issues that require pricey repairs.
  • Exclusion from most manufacturers’ warranties.
If you are past due for your yearly checkup, you may have any number of issues in your heating system that have not been addressed and are likely causing it to fail now. Call a local HVAC contractor like Varsity Home Service Company and ask about furnace inspection and repair.

2. Your Thermostat is Malfunctioning

Another reason your heater may not be working is that the thermostat is malfunctioning. When this happens, even if the rest of your central heating system is in perfect order, the heater will not turn on because the thermostat won’t tell it to.

If you suspect your thermostat may be the cause of your heating issues, try changing the batteries, cleaning out the dust from inside the thermostat, and checking that all the wires are properly connected.

3. Your Pilot Light Has Gone Out

The pilot light is what starts the flame in your furnace’s burners, so if it has gone out, the furnace won’t be able to turn on. Because there are a few different things that could extinguish the pilot light, there are a few different ways to address a burned out pilot light.

If the pilot light was blown out by a draft, you should be able to relight it. Before relighting the pilot, check to make sure that the thermocouple has cut the gas since the light went out, otherwise there could be gas leaking which would cause an explosion.

If the light went out because the pilot was excessively dusty or dirty, grab a cloth and clean it out before relighting it. Again, always be extremely careful when lighting gas pilot lights. Finally, if the thermocouple has intentionally cut the gas to the pilot light causing it to go out, it is probably because the light was no longer burning efficiently.

You can always tell something is wrong when the flame from your pilot light has changed from blue to any other color, especially yellow. In this case, the thermocouple will cut the gas and extinguish the flame as a safety. Call a professional heating technician to inspect the gas line.