Top 4 Causes of Heating System Failure

You likely don’t give much thought to your heating system unless there’s a problem and your home doesn’t feel as warm as it should. The furnace is an appliance your family depends on for comfort and warmth. Even though we aren’t in the heart of winter anymore and spring is getting closer, days and nights are probably still chilly where you live.

If you’ve noticed your home’s temperature is cooler than normal, you may have a problem with your heating system. This is an issue that should be dealt with sooner rather than later so your family doesn’t have to suffer in the cold.

To help you better understand what may be happening in your home, we’ve put together a list of the top four common causes of heating system failure.

1. Thermostat issues

If your thermostat isn’t working as it should, it won’t be able to send the right signals to your furnace to let it know when to cycle on/off, and what temperature to aim for inside your home. Fortunately, there may be a simple fix for your thermostat that seems to be on the fritz. First, check to be sure the device doesn’t need new batteries. If your thermostat runs on batteries, replace them and adjust the desired temperature in your home to see if it takes care of the problem.


If this doesn’t seem to be the solution, another simple fix may be to clean the inside of the thermostat to be sure dirt and dust aren’t coating the essential wiring inside the device. You might be surprised at how much of an effect this could have on the overall functionality of your thermostat and, in turn, your heater.

2. Dirty air filter

If you haven’t kept up with routine maintenance for your home’s heating system, you likely haven’t replaced the air filter in a while. The filter’s job is to prevent debris like pollen, pet hair, and dust spores from entering the air inside your home as it circulates through the furnace. A clogged air filter may cause your heater to work harder to circulate warm air through your home. This extra strain on your furnace could lead to premature wear and tear on the system’s internal components and, in turn, lead to a breakdown.

As a rule of thumb, replace your air filter each month during peak heating and cooling season. Yes, you read that correctly. Replace the filter inside your furnace even during the warmer months of the year because your air conditioner uses the same blower and ducts. If you aren’t sure which size or MERV-rating you need with your replacement filters, check the system’s owner’s manual for more information. If you can’t locate the manual, contact a professional HVAC technician for assistance.

3. Blower motor

The role of the blower motor is to help circulate warm air from your furnace to the rooms in your home. When this vital system component fails and/or isn’t working as it should, air from your heating system will get trapped inside the unit and won’t get dispersed properly.

Most often, the blower motor fails due to overuse, as can occur in a furnace that is clogged with dirt and dust, or if the unit itself has reached the end of its usable life. To prevent this common problem in your home, schedule a yearly maintenance appointment with a professional.

4. Furnace is over 15 years old

Your system may have failed simply because it’s reached the end of its life and can no longer keep up with the temperature demands set by your thermostat. According to Energy Star, a heating system that’s older than 15 years isn’t as efficient as it needs to be, and this could lead to expensive energy bills, as well as frequent and costly repairs.

Additional causes of furnace failure

Pilot light

If you have a heating system that runs on natural gas, it may have a pilot light which is responsible for lighting the fuel that keeps your home warm and comfortable. Pilot lights can go out due to a malfunction with the thermocouple, improper airflow, or because of a cracked heat exchanger. You will need the assistance of a trained heating professional to get the pilot light problem diagnosed, fixed, and re-ignited.

Breaker has tripped

If your furnace isn’t cycling on/off at all, the issue could be a tripped breaker. Fortunately, this is a problem that can easily be resolved by flipping the breaker back into the “ON” position.

Vents are blocked

Be sure your vents aren’t blocked by furniture, curtains, rugs, or anything else. This is another problem that’s easy to take care of.

Improperly-sized unit

If you have a furnace that is too small for your home’s heating needs, it’s likely been working overtime to keep your family warm. This extra strain on your system’s internal components could lead to a premature breakdown of the unit. When considering furnace replacement, work with an HVAC expert to ensure you’re getting a system that’s the right size and capacity for your home’s needs.

Affordable heating system protection

At Pivotal Home Solutions, we offer both Heating Repair and Heating Maintenance protection plans to help keep your home warm during the cooler months of the year. When enrolled in these plans, you can count on us to take care of your system’s annual maintenance, and you can also make a call to our friendly customer service representatives when you need to schedule an appointment for a repair.