Troubleshooting an Electric Heater: Fan Works but No Heat

women removing front of a heat vent

An electric heater fan is a complex yet essential device for all homes. Being complex, sometimes obvious problems (like a physical obstruction in the system) can cause the heater to malfunction. However, an electric heater where the fan works but no heat comes out is usually caused by a more complex problem. Nevertheless, it is still possible to troubleshoot this situation and search for ways to make the heater work again. There are at least three different components of an electric heater you can examine when trying to determine the problem.

Check the Electric Service Panel

If your heater is not producing any heat whatsoever, it might be failing because the house’s electric system has failed in some capacity. To test the electric system of the heater, you will want to test the electric service panel, the metal box that distributes power to the many circuits in your home.

Check to see if either the main circuit or one of the numerous circuit breakers have failed. Try switching on a light or appliance that is on the same circuit. If this doesn’t work, check the box for a tripped circuit breaker (one of the circuit breakers has been switched off) or blown fuse. If the circuit breaker still doesn’t work for some reason, have it replaced. This should cover any issues that your heater might have with receiving power from the house.

Check the Thermostat

man inspecting a furnace

If the power seems to be working fine, the next step is to check the unit’s thermostat. Obviously, you will first want to check that the thermostat is set to the appropriate temperature. If nothing happens after that, make sure that the thermostat is actually controlling the unit’s temperature. You can clean or reconnect the thermostat’s wires as a start. Next, check the thermal fuse and make sure it isn’t faulty, replacing the fuse with a new one if necessary. Finally, you’ll want to locate the thermostat’s timer (the display that regulates the thermostat’s activation) and find out if it is working or not. You can check for simple things here, like making sure that the timer’s circuits are connected to the thermostat properly.

Check the Heating Elements

The heating elements themselves may also be the problem. Essentially, the heating elements of a heater are nothing more than electric coils that apply resistance to the current they are receiving. The object of the coils is to convert electricity into heat, but the coils will fail their objective if they burn out, break, or become misshapen. If the heating element doesn’t appear broken, it may also be the case that the element cannot pass a charge from one spot to the other. You can use a multimeter to test the resistance of the coil in question, making sure that the resistance of the piece isn’t too high. If you determine that the coil doesn’t work, you will have to replace it.