Storage Heater Not Working? Here Are Some Fixes
Storage heaters are awesome for the money they can save. But like most electronics today, they can be a pain to troubleshoot if you’re not a tech whiz. Fear not, however, as we’ve got a comprehensive list of common issues to save you from that impending headache. If your storage heater is not working, the list below is a great place to start troubleshooting.
The most common causes of a storage heater not working are a faulty thermostat or element, improper installation, loose wiring, a bad power supply, age, and lack of maintenance.
Without an explanation, however, those are just words. Let’s break that down, so they actually mean something, shall we?
The Most Common Causes of Your Storage Heater Not Working
Let’s get a couple of things out of the way ahead of time. If you struggle to perform maintenance on basic electronics, don’t start with a storage heater. They’re expensive machines with often complex wiring, so there’s no sense in ruining them for the sake of your pride. If you’re uncomfortable performing any of these steps, please call an electrician to help.
And second, though perhaps more important, turn off all power to your storage heater before doing any form of maintenance. You can (and will) electrocute yourself if you’re not careful here. And if you have a Dimplex heater, check out our article on fixing a broken Dimplex heater.
1. The Traitorous Thermostat
This is the first one where calling a technician for help would be greatly advised if you’re unsure of your technical abilities. Not only are thermostats arguably the most complicated part of your heater in terms of wiring and circuitry, but they’re often rather difficult to troubleshoot at home.
If you’re dead set on performing the fix yourself, however, here’s what to do. Again, remember to turn off all power here and allow it to discharge before beginning:
- Turn off all power and remove the device’s power supply.
- Remove the front panel, this is generally held by screws on the front and/or bottom of the heater.
- Look for three round (usually black) polo-like items. There should be one that has a red dot (or button).
- Press the red button (no matter how much movies have conditioned you to believe that’s the worst idea imaginable).
- It should make an audible click sound. If not, your thermostat likely needs to be replaced.
- Replace the cover and wait until the next charge cycle. If it takes a charge and operates as usual, problem fixed! If not, you’ll want a technician to replace your faulty thermostat.
This is what’s called a manual reset of the thermometer. In short, it resets the thermostat to factory settings, allowing it to “reboot.” Yes, I just had you turn it off and back on again to fix the problem, get over it.
2. Broken Element
If your storage heater isn’t hot along the whole heater, that’s a sign that at least one element is out of whack. This is generally rather easy to tell, as the heater will be working but not heating up as much as usual.
We’re just going to suggest you just call a pro for this one. You’ll need a specialized tool (a multimeter), as well as insulated gloves to prevent electrocution – as this needs to be connected to power to be done properly. If you insist on trying yourself, follow these steps:
- Remove the heater casing after turning off power (steps 1-3 above).
- Remove the screws holding the inner casing in place without damaging the insulation.
- Hold it in place or have a friend do so to prevent damage to the heater.
- Remove the top layer of bricks first, then the rest – carefully. They could be unstable or fragile.
- Release the elements from the ceramic fixtures they’re attached to with a flathead screwdriver.
- Test the elements – the bad one will test as an open circuit when checked.
- Replace everything in reverse order – elements, bricks, cover, screws, cover.
- Test like you did above in step 5. If this doesn’t work, call an electrician.
Check out this video for help if you work visually.
3. Installation Inconsistencies
As much as we may hate to admit it, humans are prone to failure. This means that the cause of your storage heater woes may be that whoever installed the heater did it poorly. If you’re technically savvy, you can certainly look at the wiring and insulation to determine if it’s been done properly.
The wiring (as we’ll get to in a moment) is often rather finicky with these contraptions – meaning messing with them could cause further issues down the line. It may be best to leave this job to the professionals and make yourself a drink.
4. Wiring Woes
Whether this is due to a poor installation or a janky storage heater, wiring is one of the more complex parts of a storage heater. Whether the wiring problem lies in the switches, power supply, or somewhere in between, there’s a lot that could go wrong with a single, poorly-laid wire.
Look for clumps of wires held by a single terminal block, frayed wiring, burn marks, and loose connections – all after turning off all power. Seriously, you’re working with wiring, so don’t do it with a live circuit.
If the fault lies in your wiring, you’ll need:
- Hands – those help greatly with this project
- A pair of pliers
- A mulimeter
- Electrical tape for unsulation and securing loose connections
- Knowledge on what a pig-tail wire is
- New wires
In short, you’ll be replacing old wires with new ones. If you don’t know how to do this, then don’t. If you do, then you already know what to do here. Turn off the power, find the bad wiring, and replace it.
I’m not going to explain how to do this, as it’s too complicated for an inexperienced newbie to just “try their hand at.”
5. Power Supply
If you have a circuit tester (AKA multimeter), this is a rather simple test. If not, feel free to purchase one and get testing.
This isn’t one of those times that you should overestimate your abilities, however. The power supply needs to be live, so there are some risks associated with this. If you really want to test it yourself, simply find the connection to your power supply and attach the multimeter.
When it reads normally, the problem isn’t with your power supply. If, however, your power supply isn’t showing up on the multimeter, that’s a sign that your power supply is bunk.
And replacing a power supply is definitely a job for your local electrician.
As with most things in life, your storage heater has a lifespan.
It is generally advised that if you have a storage heater older than five years, you should start looking for a new one. Not only will they operate at less than peak efficiency (costing you money), but they can eventually become a fire hazard.
This is because, on average, storage heaters live between 6 and 8 years, with some lasting as long as a decade. They’ll generally lose around 10% efficiency for each year they’re in regular use and maintained properly. If, however, they’re not maintained, they will die faster than this – but we’re getting to that.
All electronics require consistent maintenance. They have complex parts and wiring that can easily decay with time, meaning this part is up to you. Generally, you’ll get warning signs that something is dead after it’s too late to fix, meaning proactivity is key here.
Regularly cleaning your storage heater with a damp, soft rag and gentle cleanser (such as dish soap) will clear off any grime that may have built up and will actively help to improve the lifespan of your storage heater.
Additionally, monthly (or bi-monthly) checks from a technician will drastically improve the function and life of your heater. Technicians will be able to easily pinpoint the largest (and smallest) issues in your heater. This will not only save you money in the long run but will, in general, make your life much easier.
If you’ve neglected your storage heater, it’s likely time to buy a new one. But at least now you know to perform regular upkeep on your shiny new storage heater… right? Please tell me you’ve learned your lesson here.
If your storage heater is not working, there are a lot of factors that can affect it. Whether you’re dealing with a bad thermostat or heating element, faulty wiring, age, poor maintenance, or more, there’s a lot to consider. Hopefully, this guide helped you to figure out the problem and get it fixed, but if none of these worked, it might be time to buy a new storage heater.
And as always, don’t hesitate to call an electrician or technician. They exist for one reason, and one reason only – to make your life easier and save you money in the long run.