Heater issues? Avoid possible service charges from repairman with these two tips


Alan Bitzer's heater is not working and he thinks he knows why.

"Well, I think it is the flame detector that is really the issue, but it could be the control board because it is all one solid state control board," Bitzer said.

The League City engineer feels comfortable replacing electronic parts when most of us when just call a repairman. But even trained technicians say there are two things homeowners should check if their heater is not working before calling a professional.

The first thing is the gas line valve.

"This is very important because it supplies gas to the furnace. With this being off, you are not going to get gas to the furnace, the furnace goes into lockout and it is not going to run. So if you walk up to your attic and it is 90 degrees, it's off," said Blake Stanton with Weeks Service Company in League City.

Stanton says the next easy fix is far more common. It's the furnace emergency shutoff switch.

"It's going to look like a standard light switch but that is an emergency shutoff for the furnace. Most people when they go in their attics, they do not know the difference. So they turn all the lights on, that's part of the light switch -- they believe it is. So when they leave the attic from getting all their holiday decorations, they shut it off; it kills the furnace, it stops it from running," Stanton said.

Turning on the gas valve or flipping on the emergency furnace shutoff switch will save you the cost of a service call, typically $150 to $200.

As for what not to do, if the valve and the switch do not fix the problem, do not remove any panels on your heating unit and poke around. Leave that to the experts.

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