What To Do If The Heat Goes Out

Chicago, Illinois, is notorious for its big snowstorms, and people occasionally lose power due to bad weather. The cold can also put a strain on your furnace and make any unnoticed issues worse. Here’s what you should do if your heat goes out this winter. 

Look for the Cause

Image via Flickr by Tim Brown Architecture

If your heat isn’t working, you’ll need to find the cause of the problem so you can correct it. You could have a variety of issues:

A Power Outage or Tripped Circuit Breaker

This problem often keeps some or all of your other appliances from working along with your heater. If any of your lights are out, check your home’s circuit breaker and reset any switches that tripped from a power surge or nearby lightning strike. If your lights and heat don’t come on again, call your power company to let them know your power is out. Many utilities repair the areas that people call from most first, so it’s a good idea to contact them even if your neighbor may have done so already. 

You can use a generator to operate a space heater and keep appliances like your refrigerator working. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, don’t run your generator indoors or near open windows. Also, keep space heaters away from curtains, paperwork, or other flammable items, and turn them off when you’re not using them.

A Broken Pilot Light

If the pilot light goes out on your gas or oil furnace, you may need to relight it. Some furnaces have an electronic ignition. With one of these units, turn it off and then reset the ignition control on the furnace. You should see a spark and a glow as your furnace restarts. If you notice a smell like rotten eggs, you could have a gas leak. Leave your home and call your gas company. Natural gas is flammable, and it can lead to dizziness, headaches, and other symptoms.  

A Malfunctioning Thermostat 

An issue with the wiring or a dead battery could keep your thermostat from activating your heater. A malfunctioning thermometer could prevent your heat from working properly as well. Your thermostat could also be set to air, fan, or off instead of heat. Check the setting, and change the battery if your device has one. If your thermostat is older, it may just simply be time to upgrade it. Installing a new thermostat is actually quite easy, and can be done without the help of a professional in most cases.

A Problem With Your Heater

Pine straw, pine cones, leaves, ice, heavy snow, or other items can obstruct the fan on your HVAC system’s outer unit, keeping it from sending warm air through your ductwork. Remove any debris, and then try activating your heater. You could also have a faulty blower motor, a cracked heat exchanger, or a broken fan belt that needs repair. Proper maintenance is key to avoiding these issues! If you don’t have any of the issues above and your heater still won’t come on, call a professional to fix the problem or replace your unit if needed. 

Dahme Mechanical Industries, Inc. offers 24-hour repair service, so you can get your heat working again as soon as possible. While you wait, do your best to stay warm.

Staying Warm When Heater Goes Out

Add Insulation

You can keep heat from escaping by placing towels underneath your doors and windows. Make sure all your windows are closed, and close the doors around you if you’re using a space heater. Place a thick rug or some blankets that aren’t likely to slip on the floor. If possible, keep your family members in one room near the center of your home, and avoid going into other areas.

Unless you’re getting lots of sun through a window, keep the curtains closed. Insulating clothing can help as well. If you feel chilly, wear a cozy sweater or coat, and cuddle under a blanket. Letting a pet sit in your lap or sitting near a spouse can help as well. You can also use a heating pad or an electric blanket.

Get Some Exercise

Moving around can help you stay warm. Consider taking care of some chores, using a treadmill, lifting weights, or having a fun dance party with your kids. You can also watch and participate in an aerobics or yoga video. 

Use a Humidifier

Cold air causes condensation and low humidity. Dry air often leads lead to sore throats, snoring, dry skin, static electricity, nosebleeds, and other issues. Use a portable humidifier to make you and your family members more comfortable while you wait for your heat to come back on. If you don’t have one, you can add some moisture to the air by boiling water on your stove. Check the pot often to make sure it doesn’t overflow.

FAQs About Heating Problems

Staying warm can be tough when your heat isn’t working. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about heating issues:

What Alternative Heating Methods Are Available?

In addition to a space heater, you can use a fireplace, a kerosene heater, or electric devices. If you have a gas or wood fireplace, turn it on and gather around it with your family members. Lighting some candles can provide some heat as well as light. You can also use a kerosene or propane heater, bake something delicious, or use your oven’s self-cleaning setting for additional heat. A warm treat or some hot cocoa will help you feel more comfortable. No matter which option you choose, make sure you have plenty of ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.  

How Can I Protect My Pipes?

Without heating, pipes can freeze quickly in winter. Wrap them in insulation or old towels to keep the cold away, and let your faucets drip until your heat starts working again. To make this more effective, turn on a small amount of hot water. If you find that the cold caused pipe issues, it’s in your (and your home’s) best interest to call in a professional!

Is Staying in a House With No Heat Safe?

Most of the time, staying in your home until you get the heat working again is safe. However, you should leave or call 911 for help if you feel very uncomfortable. Also, watch for signs of hypothermia in the people with you. Symptoms could include shivering, confusion, slow breathing, loss of consciousness, or bluish fingers or toes. 

Have a Heating Emergency? Contact Dahme Mechanical!

If you have a problem with your heating, Dahme Mechanical Industries, Inc. can get it working again or help you choose an efficient new system anytime. We can also help you fix frozen pipes and other plumbing problems. With more than 45 years of experience, we serve Arlington Heights and the surrounding areas including Palatine, Des Plaines, Hinsdale, and more. Our team will help you and your family feel great even when it’s below freezing outside. Give us a call at 847-610-6846 or contact us online!