Your Vornado Heater is not working and you don’t know why? In this article, we’re going to check everything you can do to fix it.
Unfortunately, the official Vornado website is not helpful at all. All you get is a “troubleshooting” document that tells you to turn the heater off and on. Not helpful at all.
Another tip you get in the document is to not use your heater with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) safety wall outlet… which is, in my opinion, pointless advice.
If your heater trips a safety outlet (which signals something is wrong), why should you risk running it on a regular wall outlet that can blow up or start a fire?
Their third tip is to contact customer service. Great.
To summarize: Vornado’s website is not helpful at all.
In the end, Vornade employees make a living by selling you heaters and not by helping you fix your broken heaters. So, they are not to be trusted.
Instead, let me help you. I am Daniel, an electrical engineer, and I am more capable of troubleshooting a heater together with you than Vornado’s online marketing team.
After reading this article, you’ll know the most common real causes of a Vornado heater not heating, as well as how you can fix them.
And even if can’t fix your heater, there’s still a way out. So, stick out until the end!
So, let’s start troubleshooting!
How to fix a Vornado Heater not working
There are different symptoms of a Vornado heater not working. For example, your space heater might not turn on at all. Or it turns on, but it blows only cold air.
All of these symptoms have different causes. I’ve got you covered with all of them!
Quick answer: To fix a Vornado heater not working, open the case, remove dust that causes overheating and inspect the electronic circuitry. Ensure that the wall outlet is powered, the extension cord doesn’t have a loose contact. And verify that the fan rotates freely.
But there are even more issues. Have a look at all of them:
Does your Vornado Heater not turn on?
If your Vornado space heater doesn’t turn on, the issue must be somewhere between the heater’s built-in power circuitry and your home’s electric circuitry.
That’s obvious. So, let’s start with the simplest-to-check causes first.
Unpowered wall outlet
The simplest possible cause of your Vornado heater not turning on is that the wall outlet is not powered.
So, the issue is outside of the heater.
The quickest way to check this is to plug your heater into another wall outlet and see if it turns on there. You can cross-check this by plugging another device into the supposedly broken wall outlet and see if it runs.
Usually, the cause for an unpowered wall outlet is a blown fuse or a tripped circuit breaker.
Check your home’s electric service box and check that the fuses are intact and circuit breakers are switched to the right position.
If a fuse looks blown, replace it with an equivalent replacement fuse. If any of the circuit breakers is triggered, switch it back.
Then, first test the wall outlet with another low-power device (such as your phone charger). It should work now.
After that, plug in and turn on your Vornado heater. If it doesn’t work, check the electric service box again. If a fuse blew again or a circuit breaker tripped again, then your Vornado heater draws too much current for your home’s circuit, or too many devices (TV, fridge, etc.) run simultaneously.
You can check with an electrician whether it’s possible to install higher current fuses or circuit breakers in your home to fix that.
Broken wall outlet
Another possible cause for your Vornado heater not turning on is a broken wall outlet. This can be the case when, due to high current, plastic pieces melt, or metal pieces weld together inside the wall outlet.
This is, however, very rare.
The simplest way to check this is to try your Vornado heater on another wall outlet.
If the fuses and circuit breakers inside your electric service panel look OK, and other devices also don’t work on this wall outlet, you have to replace the outlet.
Broken power cord
Now, we’re getting closer to the heater. If the wall outlet is working fine, then another reason can be the power cord connecting the heater and wall outlet.
To check this, you’ll have to unplug the Vornado heater and open its case until you have access to the power electronics. Then, turn it back on.
Be careful, since you can get zapped now.
Using a multimeter (or any other device to check voltages), check whether you can measure a voltage where the power cord and the circuit board connect.
If there is no voltage, then your Vornado heater’s power cord is likely broken. Technically, there can also be a short circuit somewhere.
You can eliminate this possible cause by unsoldering (or unplugging, depending on the space heater model) the power cord and measuring the voltage on the power cord’s end only.
Replace the power cord with another one that can carry 15 Amps of current. For most Vorndato heaters, this heavy-duty cord (click here to view it on amazon) should be good.
You have to cut the female end off, strip the wires, and solder them to your Vornado heater’s circuitry.
Loose contacts or disconnected ON-OFF switch
In some Vornado heaters, the ON-OFF power switch uses connectors for the power cord wires that can fall off.
So, open your Vornado heater and check that none of the power cord wires sits loosely on its connector.
And, make sure that there is no connector without a wire attached, which would mean that a wire is hanging around freely inside your Vornado heater’s case.
This is the most common cause for a Vornado power switch not working.
Technically, the switch itself can also be defective, although that happens rarely.
You can check this by measuring the voltages on both ends of the power switch. Do the voltages on either end change when you switch the power switch ON and OFF?
If yes, then the power switch is broken and you have to replace it.
This is going to be ugly since I doubt that Vorndado provides these replacement parts. So, you’ll have to use a generic power switch, which doesn’t really fit.
You can make it fit by adjusting the hole size of the power switch. But that requires tinkering and crafting.
You can find generic replacement power switches online or in a hardware store. They come in different sizes and shapes. So, get the one that most closely resembles the original switch!
Does the light / display turn on?
When a light or display on your Vornado turns on, but both the fan and the heater don’t work, the power supply to your heater is fine, but there is an issue inside your heater.
Here are the possible causes.
One possible cause is that the fan inside your Vornado heater is stuck. This could be either due to broken bearings (which is unlikely), a broken fan blade or something else blocking the fan.
To check for a stuck fan, open your Vornado heater’s case. Try to rotate the fan manually.
Does it rotate easily or not? Do the fan blades look okay? And is something stuck in between the blades?
Blocked fans or broken fan blades can happen when you have kids at home. They experiment with the heater and put sticks into the Vornado’s fan.
In any case, you have to remove anything that blocks the fan’s rotation. If you find that your Vornado heater fan is broken, replace the entire fan, or just the fan blades.
I found replacement fan parts for Vornado heaters online on aliexpress.com (takes a few weeks shipping time from China) and used replacement parts from someone’s disassembly on eBay.
While you’re at it, lubricate the fan to improve the rotation. For this, you can use any lubricant. I use WD-40.
Fan not turned on
This one is obvious. I just want to mention it for completeness. Some Vornado space heaters have separate turn-on switches for the heater and fan.
Make sure that the fan-switch is turned on (if there is one on your heater).
Does the fan turn on but it doesn’t blow hot air?
Now, we get to more interesting territory: Your Vornado space heater turns on but blows only cold air.
This is a case where your heater works partly. So, the potential cause can be a bit trickier to find.
One thing we can eliminate is your fan and the power supply. Since the fan rotates, it’s working fine.
Broken or blown electronic parts
There are different kinds of electronic problems, such as thermostat or sensor issues. But usually, they all reduce to the same base problem: A broken part in the electronics.
Oftentimes you don’t even have to know what the part is that you are repairing. For example, a blown capacitor is a blown capacitor. It doesn’t matter whether it’s part of the power module or the thermostat.
So, my suggestion is to visually inspect your Vornado heater. To do that, open its case until you find a circuit board.
Some Vornado heaters have only very basic circuitry and there’s not much to see. Other Vornado models have more complex circuitry.
In any case, inspect the circuitry visually for 5 minutes. Don’t do anything else. Just stare at the circuit board and all its connections.
When I worked in an electronics repair department, this was the go-to troubleshooting method.
Staring at electronic circuitry for a few minutes reveals, I’d say, 80% of the issues. And you don’t even have to measure anything.
Look out for burn marks, blown parts, and capacitors that look deformed. If there are integrated circuits (ICs) on your circuit board, check that all the pins are connected to the circuit board.
Sometimes, pins hover over the soldering joint without making a physical connection.
I’ve also seen this with surface-mounted resistors, where one end was hovering above the solder joint only a tiny fraction of a millimeter. You could barely see it with a magnifying glass.
If you spot a broken or disconnected part, you need a soldering iron to replace it. One exception are parts that have connectors you merely reconnect. This can be fuses or the connectors of the ON-OFF switch.
So, replace any broken parts you find with equivalent replacement parts you get online or from a hardware store.
If you can’t find any issues by visual inspection, trace the voltage from the power cord until you see it drop.
Then check the area in the vicinity of the voltage drop. Something must be off there.
Does the heater turn off after some time?
Technically, the most interesting issues in space heaters are those with what I call “charging effects”.
Charging effects are all those issues that only occur after running your space heater for a few seconds or minutes.
It seems like the issue has to charge for some time until it reaches a threshold and then “breaks out” and causes the heater to shut off.
I’d even say that most space heater issues are charging issues. And they are among the simplest to fix:
Overheat protection triggered
The most common cause for your Vornado heater shutting off after a few seconds or minutes of heating is the overheat protection triggering.
Whenever there is an issue that takes time to occur, it is oftentimes due to heat building up.
You turn your heater on, heat accumulates, and then it triggers the overheat protection.
When overheat protection triggers like this, it’s almost certainly due to dust inside the heater.
Luckily, it is easy to fix:
Open your Vornado heater’s case and remove all the dust. To remove the dust, you can use your bare hands and remove the large dust balls manually. Then, for the fine-grained parts use a dry toothbrush.
Alternatively, you can blow out the dust using a compressed air gun.
Here, it is important to only use dry methods to clean your Vornado heater. Using wet cleaners or water to clean the dust will result in an annoying smell that you can’t get rid of.
Only if there’s grease on your fan blades, you can sprinkle some cleaning products or rubbing alcohol to dissolve the fat and remove it more easily.
Then, reassemble your Vornado heater and run it. I bet it works now!
95% of heaters shutting off after some time are just full of dust.
Electric charging effects
There is a tiny chance your Vornado heater shuts off after some time due to other kinds of charging effects. This could be an overloading capacitor or a resistor overheating and changing its electrical characteristics.
These issues are, however, very rare.
The easiest way to check them is to open your Vornado heater and turn it on. See if you hear a noise building up (screeching, buzzing, or similar). And check for parts getting hot and giving off smoke right before your heater shuts off.
If this happens, replace the affected parts and retry.
What to do if your Vornado heater still doesn’t work?
If you are not able to repair your Vornado heater, even after following this guide, I’d recommend getting a new space heater.
Instead of getting another Vornado heater (which might break again), I recommend changing the heater type entirely.
Vornado heaters have built-in fans, which cause dust to accumulate. Also, they wear down due to friction. So, it’s just a matter of time until it breaks.
Instead, get a heater that does not accumulate dust and has no moving parts, such as an oil-filled radiator.
Because nothing moves, and there is no airflow inside an oil-filled radiator, it will easily last for 10 years or more. Oil-filled radiators are the most reliable heaters.
I recommend getting this DeLonghi oil-filled radiator (click here to view it on amazon). This heater produces just the same amount of heat as any Vornado heater, without the downside of breaking easily.
I’d prefer an oil-filled radiator over a Vornado heater anytime.
Also, sell your broken heater online. Someone will buy it. There are hundreds of people happily buying, repairing, and flipping broken devices.
By selling it, you save yourself all the repair trouble. And someone else can make a profit on your heater.