Weather should rarely directly impact your heater, but under the right circumstances, rain and snow and wind can all cause your heater to shut off early or not turn on at all. Here's what can cause the problem and how it can be fixed.
Moisture that leaks into your house via your roof can interfere with your heater's normal operation. The most common issues related to leaks are electric; your heater should stay as dry as possible and isn't designed to get wet, unlike parts of your air conditioning unit. If water is leaking through your roof, this can start to cause problems.
Even if you're using a gas furnace, it still uses a little electricity to operate, such as for flame ignition and for fan motors. Even if only these components malfunction, this is enough to keep your whole heater from running. If you suspect your problem may be related to a leak, avoid using your heater as much as possible until a specialist can inspect it for you, as electrical problems can very quickly become dangerous.
Related Electrical Issue
Indirect electrical issues can cause similar problems. For example, if you have uncovered outlets outside, water can get into them and cause a short. This can start to affect your heater if there are any issues with the circuit your furnace is installed on, even if the heater itself isn't the problem.
One of the signs you might notice is a breaker that trips repeatedly when you're experiencing stormy weather. Have this inspected as soon as you can to lessen the risk of electrical damage to your home.
Furnaces produce carbon monoxide as part of the heating process, and that needs to be vented safely away from your home. If the vent pipe for this gas becomes clogged or blocked, which can sometimes happen as a result of snow, your heater's safety mechanisms will prevent it from running until the blockage is clear. If you happen to have this issue in conjunction with a variety of negative health symptoms, this could be your problem.
If this is a consistent issue, your HVAC specialist can help you make modifications to your ventilation to prevent it from happening during future storms. This will both keep your heater running and keep everyone inside your home safe.
Faulty Flame Sensor
Some problems may be more noticeable during stormy weather due to an increase in heater use but are otherwise unrelated. One common example is the flame sensor. When the flame is on the sensor will detect it and allow the supply of gas to continue. If the sensor is faulty it may not detect the flame and subsequently shut down the supply of gas, thereby shutting off your heater even if everything else is operating properly. This can be more noticeable during stormy weather when things cool down and your heater is used more frequently as a result.
One symptom of this problem is that your heater will run fine at first but then shut off early. The fix to this is usually to have the sensor cleaned or replaced, which a technician can easily do for you. For more information, contact a heating contractor near you.