How to Troubleshoot a Central Heating System

Written by ehow home & garden editor
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Once upon a time, heat came from baseboard or wall heaters that produced uneven heat. Things improved with contemporary homes that come with central heating systems. Central heating systems allow you to control the temperature through a thermostat on the wall. However, just like cars, sometimes central heating systems need maintenance or a repair.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Meet your central heating system. If you have a heat pump or furnace, you likely have a ducted air system, which is the most common type of central heating. In a forced air duct system, a blower pushes warm air through the system and out the vents to warm rooms in your house. A gravity furnace doesn't use blowers; instead, convection currents move air throughout your home.

  2. 2

    Change furnace filters annually, or more frequently if you have pets or use air conditioning in the summertime. If you notice that the central heating system doesn't work as well as it once did, it could be because it's having trouble pushing warm air through a dirty filter.

  3. 3

    Clear obstructions away from inside and outside vents for optimal air flow. Inside the house, that means furniture. Outside, look for leaves and debris blocking the outside vent. Remember to keep cold-air return vents, which are not connected to the ducts, unobstructed as well.

  4. 4

    Check the pilot light if you have a natural gas heating system. You want to see a clear blue flame. A yellow or orange flame can mean a problem that requires a call for a repair from a service technician.

  5. 5

    Consider contacting a central heating service technician to schedule a tune-up for your central heating system. Keeping your system properly maintained now could ward off a costly repair later.

Tips and warnings

  • Test your central heating system before the first frost. You don't want to find out that it doesn't work when the temperate decides to stay below freezing.

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