The best thing you can do to prevent the need for surprise heating repairs is to have your heater serviced before you need it each year. However, if you didn't do this, or if you are still having issues anyway, then you want to know at what point you really need to have a repair person come out. This article will give you some pointers on how to recognize when you really need someone to look at your heating system.
Your heater won't turn on
If your heater just won't turn on, then you want to check for a blown fuse. If this was the issue, then you can take care of it yourself. If it's the thermostat and you don't see any information on it, such as the current temperature and other settings, then there could be something going on with the wiring or with the thermostat itself, so you want the system to be looked at and repaired.
Your heater won't heat
If the gas heater isn't heating, then you need to check the pilot light. If you find the pilot light isn't lit and you are unable to get lit it, then turn the unit off until someone comes out to look at it. If they also aren't able to get the pilot light lit, or they can't get it to stay on, then they will have to repair whatever is causing the issue. The problem can be an issue going on with the thermocouple or the pilot tube.
Your central heating isn't heating the house evenly
If you can tell that some rooms aren't being heated as well as others, the first thing to do is to make sure the registers are all open. You should never have any of them closed anyway because this can cause pressure imbalances. If they are all open, then have someone come out to determine the issue. More than likely you have a leak that needs to be repaired. Until you have it fixed, you will continue having the problem, the heater will work much harder than it is supposed to, and your power bill will rise.
You hear weird sounds
You won't always feel problems the heater is having, sometimes you will be warned about an issue by new sounds. Sounds can be scary, because they indicate that the system is having internal problems. Call someone out if you are hearing anything from a low swooshing sound to a thudding, clicking, grinding, or squealing sound.