Does your wall heater keep shutting off, and you don’t know why?
Been there, and so have thousands of people worldwide! Believe it or not, struggling to keep the lights on in your wall heater can be challenging under the right conditions.
I know having your wall keep shutting off can be very annoying, but you can relax now; I got your back.
Below, you will find a list of the most common causes of a wall heater failing and the simplest steps to address each one.
Are you ready? Let’s go!
Fixing a Malfunctioning Wall Heater
Often, when their wall heater keeps shutting off, people spend a fortune trying to figure out why, only to find too late that the source of their problems is improper maintenance or an external factor.
Before diving into the actual causes and solutions, it’s important to remember that there are two types of heaters -gas and electric. And while both heater types share some similarities, for the most part, each one has different potential causes for their malfunctions.
- Check your furnace size
- Clean the flue pipe
- Clean the blower wheel
- Replace the heating element
- Check for overheating
- Check your wiring
- Replace the thermostat
- Clean the filters
Having cleared up where each heater type can fail, let’s dive into the 8 simple fixes that will get everything back to normal:
#1 Check Your Furnace Size
When a wall heater keeps shutting off, I often recommend homeowners check their furnace size.
If, by any chance, the furnace is oversized relative to a home’s heating requirements, it could keep shutting off continuously and generate excessive heat.
Provided that a certified professional installed your heater, an oversized furnace is unlikely to be the reason behind your wall heater shutting off. Professionals know exactly what furnace size to install in every home.
However, there’s always room for human error.
Solution: If you suspect your furnace is too large for your home’s requirements, my advice is to check your User Manual again. More often than not, you’ll be able to find the recommended dimensions for your particular case in there.
#2 Clean the Flue Pipe
In my opinion, the flue pipe is one of the most important parts of your appliance, and any failure on it could explain why your wall heater keeps shutting off.
Normally, only gas passes through the flue pipe, but over time, any debris or corrosion can block it and prevent it from functioning adequately. If your wall heater keeps shutting off, there’s a very good chance that you need to clean the flue pipe.
Failing to clean the flue pipe will allow for the accumulation and leaking of carbon monoxide, so please, if you suspect blockages to be the issue, address it immediately for your own safety.
Solution: Let your heater cool down and carefully remove the flue pipe.
Once you have removed the flue pipe, you can use a hardwire metal chimney brush that fits to scrape off anything that could be obstructing the free flow of carbon monoxide through the pipe’s tube.
#3 Clean the Blower Wheel
You can’t have a fire if you don’t have proper airflow.
Keeping your blower wheel clean at all times is a best practice that can stop your wall heater from shutting off constantly. When the blower wheel gets dirty or damaged, airflow inside your wall heater is compromised, thus increasing the risk of the flame going out.
If your wall heater keeps shutting off, there’s a good chance that you need to look at the blower wheel and clean it to restore adequate airflow.
Solution: To access the blower wheel comfortably, you’ll have to go in and disassemble a couple of components. You can clean or inspect your blower wheel for damage once you have direct access to it.
If the blower wheel only requires cleaning, you can always use a hard wire brush to scrub off any corrosion or buildup carefully; however, if it’s broken or damaged in any way, it’s best to get a new one and replace it.
#4 Replace the Heating Element
The heating element is the lifeblood of your appliance. Without the heating element, you don’t have a wall heater; you have an expensive doorstop.
The heating element is solely responsible for transforming the electricity from your wall outlet into usable heat to heat your home. Heating elements work hand in hand with thermostats to generate and regulate the temperature inside the unit.
Provided your wall heater keeps shutting off, there’s a good chance your heating element is faulty.
Solution: The steps to access your heating element comfortably are similar to cleaning or replacing the blower wheel. You’ll have to go in and disassemble a couple of components.
Sadly, there’s no way of repairing a corroded or malfunctioning heating element. Still, you can test the element for continuity with a multimeter to be completely certain that the part is, in fact, to blame.
If you determine that the heating element needs replacing, you can get another from either your nearest hardware store or your manufacturer.
#5 Check for Overheating
Believe it or not, even heat-generating appliances like wall heaters can overheat, as there’s a temperature limit under which heaters operate normally.
When going over the limit, your wall heater could start manifesting several symptoms, such as failure to process inputs, excessive heat generation, and… you guessed it, random shutoffs.
Overheating poses a significant danger to your wall heater’s internal components and puts you at risk of a house fire. Granted, wall heaters will only cause house fires in extreme scenarios, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
It’s very important that, as soon as you suspect overheating to be the reason behind your problem, you stop using your wall heater immediately and look for the overheating source.
Solution: I recommend accessing your internal components individually and testing them for continuity while searching for abnormalities. Be sure to call a technician as soon as you spot anything out of place, or that seems suspicious.
#6 Check Your Wiring
Improper wiring during installation could also explain why your wall heater keeps shutting off.
And even when everything is, in fact, set up correctly, over time, wires can become corroded or wear out. Corrosion damage is common not only in-wall heaters but also in ceiling fans and range hoods, so if it makes you feel any better, you’re not alone.
Corrosion can cause your appliance to short-circuit and sustain significant damage. You must stop using your wall heater as soon as you suspect wire damage or corrosion to be the source of the issue.
Solution: If you’ve already tried the steps from the previous points, you already have a proper view of your wiring. Keep your eyes open, and look for anything suspicious, like a detached cable or signs of damage.
Even if you’re great at DIYs, my usual advice is to have a certified electrician check your wiring.
#7 Replace the Thermostat
If you’ve tried everything and your wall heater keeps shutting off, we can safely move on to considering the possibility of a malfunctioning thermostat.
The thermostat is responsible for measuring and regulating the temperature inside your wall heater, which means that, when it fails, it could be sensing temperature incorrectly and sensing that the wall heater is getting excessively hot, even when it’s not.
When the thermostat detects overheating, it triggers a safety mechanism that shuts the wall heater off… so, yeah, mystery solved!
Solution: When you suspect your thermostat is failing, your best bet is to carefully cut off the gas and electricity supply to your wall heater, wait for it to cool down completely, and then use a multimeter to test continuity.
Provided there’s no continuity, the thermostat is done for, and you’ll need to replace it. You should be able to buy a new thermostat easily, either from your nearest hardware store or from your manufacturer.
#8 Clean the Filters
Lastly, let’s look at your filters as another possible explanation for why your wall heater keeps shutting off.
Airflow is extremely important to guarantee your heater’s proper functioning. Any element that messes with your appliance’s air intake can severely damage the heater and cause many unfortunate situations.
If your wall heater keeps shutting off, there’s a good chance that you need to either clean or replace your filters. Most manufacturers recommend cleaning your filters at least once every two months and replacing them twice a year.
Solution: The recommended cleaning time mentioned above is merely a general rule. Your heater might need to be cleaned more or less often. Please refer to your User Manual to find the right recommended cleaning periods for your particular appliance.
You can also check the filters often to see how dirty they get within a certain period and go from there.
Having your wall heater shut off randomly can be a nightmare, especially if the cold months of the year are around the corner.
Luckily, as I hope you’ve learned in this piece, addressing most of the causes behind this issue is fairly simple and not very time-consuming.
More often than not, proper maintenance and cleaning and using the right-sized furnace are all it takes to keep your heater working like clockwork.
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Enjoy being warm and cozy again!