How To Troubleshoot A Space Heater?


Space heaters are little yet effective equipment that heats up only a particular area of your house or RV. They are easy to clean and have an automatic shut-off mechanism in case it gets too hot, or if it falls over. Getting all panicky is the first thing you do, but the heater is pretty easy to repair all by yourself.

For doing that, you need first to find out what’s the root cause of the problem. If things get too out of your hands, you can call a professional and get it fixed. But let’s check out the simple things first shall we?

How do I reset my space heater?

There are many heaters available in the RV market, but there are two types of that you are the most effective — fuel burning and electric heaters. A fuel burning heater is perfect for heating a large space without requiring very much electricity. Since it emits carbon monoxide as a by-product of the fuel burning process, so you need an outlet or pipe to direct it out of the RV. Pre manufactured RV’s and Campers are setup this way, but if you are building one from scratch or converting a cargo trailer into a camper, then you’ll need to keep this in mind.

However, using a wood burning stove as a heat source is also an option. One which most travelers avoid, as you need to bring the wood along with you. And it’s a bit more risky in the way of a potential fire hazard when not attend properly.

Electric or radiator heaters are the best for small spaces like a camper, especially if you don’t have very good insulation. They heat a single room faster from a low point in the room, which help to warm up the toes faster and make you feel warmer faster too.

Now, let’s see how to turn off both types of heaters: (A heater shuts down mostly when there is an obstruction that causes the overheating.)

  1. Switch off the space heater and remove the obstruction.
  2. Turn off the thermostat.
  3. If you have an electric heater, unplug it from the source of electricity. Wait for 10 to 15 minutes for the machine to cool down.
  4. Switch it back on. Check in 10 minutes if it is releasing heat uniformly.

Some heaters come with an automatic reset mechanism, so you don’t need to perform the process manually. They are usually more expensive. If the overheating problem continues, you need to call a professional for help.

Why did my electric space heater stop working?

You up in the mountains surrounded by snow and enjoying the beautiful white blanket all around you. Suddenly, you start feeling cold and realize that your brand new electric space heater has stopped working. Most of the times there are easy-to-fix causes.

Here are six reasons why your electric space heater stopped working:

  1. Thermostat problem – There might be times when the thermostat stops working, gets stuck at a temperature, or becomes loose. Most of the times it becomes faulty, which is something you can easily fix.

Solution: Turn it to a higher temperature. It can also stop working because of the auto safety shut off feature. Switch on the heater to check if the thermostat is working properly. If none of these solutions work, you will have to replace it.

  1. Blown fuse – Blown fuses are one of the most common causes of an electric heater not working.

Solution: Unplug the heater and check the fuse box for any blown fuses. If it has only tripped, then you can reset the circuit breakers. If the fuse is blown, you will have to replace it. Plug in the heater and check if it is working properly.

  1. Check the power supply – Another common cause is the power supply not working.

Solution: First check if power is available. If it is, check if the power switch is working properly. Connect another device to the source to verify. If it isn’t working, you will have to get it replaced.

  1. Automatic shut off – Modern space heaters shut off automatically when it overheats as a safety mechanism.

Solution: Unplug the heater and let it cool down for 15 minutes. Remove any obstruction that might be causing it to overheat. Plug it back in and switch on and it will start working smoothly.

  1. Electric cord problem – Either the electric cord may be faulty since the beginning or stop working because of excessive load.

Solution: Switch off the heater and unplug it from the power source. Check the cord thoroughly for any breaks or tears. Get it replaced from the manufacturer.

  1. Faulty heating element – It happens rarely, but a problem with the heating element might cause your space heater to stop working.

Solution: You will have to test the heating element to check what is the exact problem.

Follow these steps to find it out:

  1. Turn off the heater and unplug it from the power source.
  2. Disassemble the heater to get access to the heating element. Set the resistance to 1 or multimeter to RX1.
  3. Touch the ends of the multimeter to the ends of the heating element.
  4. If the meter indicates high resistance, the element is working as desired. If the resistance is low or reading indicates infinity, it is probably broken.
  5.  Replace the element with a new one of the same size, power rating, make, resistance, and shape.

Sometimes it isn’t possible to fix the heater at the same time. Instead of trying to fix it or figuring out where you will get the parts, just turn on the furnace for a bit, get comfortable and then work on the solution. A comfortable, relaxed mind helps you to think clearly.

Why did my propane space heater stop working?

Propane space heaters regulate gas to maintain cozy room temperature. If any of the controls that modify gas regulation stop working, the heater will not produce heat. Let’s take at some problems that are causing it not to work:

  1. Standing pilot – Check the standing pilot through the heater’s window. It should ideally be one inch high and blue in color. If it is orange or yellow, there is dirt in the pilot tube. It usually causes uneven heating.

Solution: Turn off the gas and clean the pilot tube by inserting a needle in it.

  1. Electronic spark – Most propane space heaters come with a blower, which makes a clicking sound when you switch it on. An electronic spark makes this sound. If you can’t hear the sound, it indicates that the blower is broken.

Solution: Open the manufacturer’s manual and find the heater’s electrical diagram. Check if propane cylinder is empty and connect a new one. If that’s not the issue, the gas valve might have collected some dirt. Use a needle to clean the valve’s aperture.

  1. Heater operation dysfunction – When you increase the temperature on the thermostat, it opens the gas valve via an electrical signal. When the room temperatures reach the desired value, it will stop working. When the temperature drops again, the thermostat sends another signal to the gas valve. If the room isn’t heating properly, then there’s a problem with the pilot, a part where the gas is burned.

Solution: Check the gas pipe for dirt. It obstructs the gas from entering the pilot. Use a tiny stick or a needle to clean it out.

  1. Thermocouple issue – Sometimes the thermocouple gets stuck in its position and doesn’t open the gas valve. It happens rarely but checks for it. If the pilot isn’t burning, this can be the reason.

Solution: Use a stick to push the thermocouple towards the flame.

Most problems related to a prone heater not working is dirt or dust getting stuck in the pipes. That is because it wasn’t maintained well or cleaned regularly. Make sure you clean the heater regularly, so these problems don’t occur.

Is it safe to leave my space heater on all night?

Everyone loves to sleep at a comfortable temperature but leaving the space heater on throughout the night doesn’t sound like a good idea. It is a potential health hazard and can destroy your property. However, you don’t have much choice if you are camping in cold states like Colorado and Washington where you simply can’t survive without heat.

Here are three reasons you shouldn’t leave space heaters on all night:

  1. Release Carbon Monoxide (Fuel Burning) – Space heaters release carbon monoxide, which can cause death. It is like a silent killer because you can’t smell or sense it. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, headache, nausea, shortness of breath, and blurred visions. Get out of your house or camper immediately if you experience any of the symptoms.
  1. Cause fires – The National Fire Protection Association revealed that the second leading cause of house fires in winter is a heater. (I think the first was a Turkey Deep Frier?) You have to make sure that you keep your space heater away from all flammable things including cushions, blankets, oil, perfumes, and alcohol. However, it is best to heat your room for two to three hours before you go to sleep, so it stays warm throughout the night.
  1. Dries out your skin – We all experience dry skin in winters, but heaters can make it even worse. When you heat your room all the time, it tends to evaporate the moisture from our skin. Install a humidifier to maintain 30 to 50 percent humidity in the house.

Precautions you need to take:

  1. Don’t use an outdated space heater. Invest in a brand new model, which comes with an automatic switch-off feature.
  2. Make sure the heater is at least two feet away from your bed and cabinets.
  3. Purchase a heater with a long cord that directly plugs into the wall socket. Extension cords aren’t the safest to use. It is always recommended to use a grounded outlet.
  4. Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your house.
  5. Turn off the heater every time you leave the room.

Is it safe to use a space heater in an RV?

Electric heaters are the safest to use in an RV. Even though it consumes a lot of energy and needs a continuous power source, the space heater is easy to maintain and doesn’t emit carbon monoxide. It is also compact in size and barely makes any noise, which means you will sleep like a baby during the entire night.

These heaters warm the room without making your skin dry, which is a huge bonus during winter time. The heating is uniform and very consistent. There are a few propane space heaters that you can use in your RV, but you need a wall outlet for the CO emission. However, only purchase them if a power source is far away because these heaters don’t need any electricity supply.

Instead of keeping them on all night, you can heat your RV for three hours and close all windows and door to retain the heat inside. Double pane windows will act as better insulators. Since they heat the room quickly, you can switch it off after sometime and cuddle throughout the night.

Stay warm and safe throughout the night. Ensure all vents and outlets are clean for the carbon monoxide to pass through to the outside of the RV.

Here are some more cold weather winter camping tips that’ll keep you from freezing up.