When your space heater’s light is on but it’s not working, it can be frustrating but there is an easy, step-by-step troubleshooting process to follow!
When a space heater’s light is on but it doesn’t produce heat, potential culprits include power source issues, blown circuits or resistors, malfunctioning heating elements, dirty air filters, or a broken component. Checking the power supply, thermostat, circuit breaker, fuses, and wiring can help troubleshoot the problem. Regular maintenance, like cleaning the fan and heating elements, can prevent many issues.
In this article, we will discuss these problems and guide you through the process of identifying the cause of the malfunction!
Common reasons a space heater light will turn on but it won’t work
- Power Source Issues: Ensure that your space heater is properly plugged into a functioning electrical outlet. Sometimes, a loose or unplugged power cord can prevent your heater from receiving power. Inspect the power cord for any signs of damage or fraying.
- Blown Circuit or Resistor: Your space heater may have a blown circuit or resistor, leading to a failure in producing hot air. To check this, you need to open the case and start testing the circuit using a voltage regulator. Also, examine the electricity path for any breakage.
- Heating Element Problems: If your space heater powers up and the light is on but it’s putting out insufficient heat, one or more of the heating elements may be at fault. Check them with a multimeter to determine if any are defective and need replacement.
- Dirty Air Filter: A dirty air filter can cause your space heater to malfunction or not be as energy efficient. Inspect the air filter regularly and clean or replace it as necessary.
- Component Breakdown: In some cases, a part of your space heater may become faulty, such as the fan in fan-heaters. Perform a visual inspection to identify any visible signs of damage or wear to the various components of your heater.
By following these steps to identify the problem with your space heater, you can better understand the cause of its failure and decide on the appropriate course of action to resolve the issue.
1. check the Space Heater Power Supply
Before attempting to turn on your space heater, ensure that it is properly connected to a power source. Check if the plug is securely inserted into the socket and the wall outlet is functioning properly. You can test the wall outlet by plugging in another appliance, like a lamp, to see if it receives power.
If you find that the power supply isn’t working, you may need to check the auto safety shut off feature following your heater’s specific guidelines.
Here are the most common ones to check:
- Overheat Protection: Automatically turns off if internal temperatures get too high.
- Tip-Over Switch: These switches shut off the heater if it’s knocked over or tilted excessively.
- Cool-Touch Exterior: Ensures the heater’s exterior remains cool, reducing burn risks.
- Timer: Turns off the heater after a set duration to prevent indefinite operation.
- Airflow Blockage Sensors: Shuts off if reduced airflow (due to blockages) is detected.
- CO Detection (for combustion heaters): Turns off if dangerous carbon monoxide levels are detected.
- Child Safety Locks: Prevents tampering and may shut off the heater if controls are interfered with excessively.
2. Check the Space Heater Thermostat
To turn on your space heater and ensure it functions properly, double-check the thermostat setting. Make sure the thermostat is set to a desired temperature above the room temperature. When set correctly, your space heater should automatically turn on and begin heating the space.
If you are still experiencing issues with your space heater even after checking the power supply and thermostat settings, your heater might require further troubleshooting or repairs.
3. Check the House Circuit Breaker
When your space heater is not functioning, even with its light on, start by checking your home’s electrical panel for a tripped circuit breaker. Locate the breaker connected to your electric heater and confirm if it is in the “Off” or “Tripped” position.
If that’s the case, flip the switch back to the “On” position to restore power. If it continues to trip, there may be a fault with the heater or the electrical system.
4. Check the Space Heater Fuse
In some cases, a blown fuse can lead to your space heater not working. To check for blown fuses:
- Unplug the heater and let it cool down.
- Locate the fuse compartment, usually at the rear of the heater.
- Remove the fuse (check the user manual for guidance).
- Inspect the fuse for any signs of damage or discoloration; replace it if necessary.
5. Test the Space Heater Power Switch
A faulty power switch can prevent your heater from functioning correctly.
To test this, you will need a multimeter:
- Unplug the heater and put on rubber gloves for safety.
- Access the power switch (refer to the user manual for specific instructions).
- Set the multimeter to the continuity setting.
- Place one probe on each terminal of the switch.
- Press the switch on and look for a reading on the multimeter. If there is no reading, the switch is likely faulty and may need to be replaced.
6. Assess the Space Heater Wiring
Wiring issues can also cause your space heater to not blow hot air. To inspect your heater’s wiring:
- Unplug the heater and let it cool down.
- Remove the heater’s housing (refer to the user manual for guidance).
- Visually inspect the wiring for any signs of damage, loose connections, or corrosion.
- If there is noticeable damage, consider consulting a professional for further diagnosis and repair.
By troubleshooting the circuit breaker, fuses, power switch, and wiring, you can identify and resolve most electrical issues with your space heater. Remember to always prioritize your safety and consult a professional if you are unsure of any step during the process.
7. Check and Clean the Space Heater Fan and Heating Elements
- Disassemble the space heater following the manufacturer’s instructions to access the fan and heating elements.
- Inspect the fan motor for any signs of damage or disconnections. Ensure that the fan wiring is properly connected to the motor. If it is not, reconnect it or replace the wiring if it appears damaged.
- Examine the heating elements carefully. In an electric space heater, look for broken or burnt-out heating coils. In an oil-filled radiator, check for leaks or damage to the housing.
- Clean the heating elements gently with a brush to remove any dust or dirt buildup. This helps prevent overheating and maintains the efficiency of the heater.
- Inspect and clean the dirty air filter (if applicable). A clogged air filter can restrict airflow and cause the heater to overheat. Remove the air filter, clean it, and reinstall it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Reassemble the space heater following the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Plug it back in and test its operation to ensure that it is now working properly.
By regularly maintaining and cleaning your space heater, you can ensure its proper functioning and prolong its lifespan.
8. Solve Overheating Issues
When your space heater is overheating, it may not work properly, and it can become a safety hazard. Here are some steps to help you resolve the overheating issue:
- Allow the heater to cool down: Turn off the power immediately and unplug the space heater. Wait for a while until the unit cools down. Giving it proper time to cool down prevents further damage and ensures your safety.
- Check for temperature tension: Make sure the space in which the heater is operating is not too cramped. Overheating may occur if there is not enough space for proper air circulation. Place the heater on a flat surface, and make sure there are no obstructions hindering air flow.
- Inspect the thermostat: Overheating may be caused due to a malfunctioning thermostat. Double-check if the thermostat is set correctly and adjust it accordingly. If the thermostat is not functioning properly, consider replacing it.
- Clean the heater: Accumulation of dust and debris inside the heater might lead to overheating. Regularly clean the heater, ensuring the vents, fans, and the heating element are dust-free. Use a soft brush or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to clean the space heater gently.
- Look for automatic shut-off features: Many space heaters are equipped with automatic shut-off systems that turn the unit off when it overheats. However, if your heater does not possess this feature or it has malfunctioned, consider investing in a new heater with advanced safety features.
By following these steps, you should be able to solve the overheating issues and ensure your space heater is working efficiently and safely.
Practicing Space Heater Safety
When using a space heater, it’s crucial to prioritize safety to prevent accidents and hazards.
Keep these essential safety tips in mind to ensure your space heater doesn’t pose unnecessary risks to you and your surroundings:
- Maintain a safe distance: Be sure to place your space heater at least 3 feet away from any flammable items, such as plastic, drapes, and furniture. This precaution helps reduce the risk of burning or igniting nearby objects.
- Be mindful of pets and children: Keep the space heater out of reach for pets and young children who might accidentally knock it over or touch it, posing a potential safety hazard.
- Use a stable surface: Always place your space heater on a flat, stable surface to avoid tipping or rolling over, as well as to ensure proper heat distribution.
- Keep it clear of debris: Ensure that the area around your space heater is clear of debris and dust, as these can create a potential fire hazard when in close proximity to the heating source. Regularly clean your space heater according to the manufacturer’s instructions to maintain optimal functionality and safety.
- Avoid using extension cords: Plugging your space heater directly into the wall outlet is the most secure option. Using extension cords may lead to overheating or short-circuiting, potentially causing damage or fire.
- Familiarize yourself with the heater’s controls: Understanding the controls and settings of your space heater will enable you to use it more safely and efficiently. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure proper usage.
By adhering to these safety tips, you can confidently use your space heater without worrying about potential hazards, providing a comfortable and warm environment for you and your loved ones.
When to Replace Your Space Heater
Sometimes, despite your best efforts at troubleshooting, your electric space heater might remain non-functional. In such cases, it’s important to determine if it’s time to replace your home appliances.
Here are a few signs that indicate that this might be the best course of action.
- Blown Fuse: If your space heater’s underlying issue lies in a repeatedly blown fuse, it could be indicative of a deeper electrical problem that might not be fixable. In this situation, it’s safer to consider replacing your heater.
- Faulty Thermostat: A faulty thermostat can render your space heater ineffective. While thermostats can be replaced, it may not always be worth the cost or effort, depending on the heater’s age and condition. Assess whether it’s more cost-effective to replace the thermostat or the entire heater.
- Damaged Components: Inspect your space heater for visibly damaged components, such as broken heating elements, fans, or wiring. If individual components are damaged beyond repair, you may be better off purchasing a new heater.
- Age and Wear: Space heaters generally have a lifespan of about 10-15 years, depending on usage and maintenance. If your heater is more than a decade old and consistently malfunctions, it might be time to invest in a new unit.
To avoid future issues with your new space heater, be sure to carefully follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance and usage.
Check Out Our Complete Guide to Space Heaters!
If you enjoyed this post, check out our complete guide to space heaters for more information on space heater types, safety features, troubleshooting common issues, and how to choose the right space heater for your needs!
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