As the winter months approach, space heaters become an essential part of our lives. However, we all know how frustrating it can be when your space heater stops working, and you can’t figure out why.

One common issue that many homeowners face is a malfunctioning thermostat on their electric or wall heater. Fortunately, there’s a simple trick that you can use to bypass the thermostat temporarily to determine if the problem lies with the thermostat or the heater itself.

How to Bypass the Thermostat on an Electric or Space Heater

To bypass the thermostat on an electric or space heater, you’ll need a pair of needle-nose pliers and a small piece of wire. Before proceeding, it’s crucial to prioritize safety and caution.

As a team of home improvement consultants, we always advise homeowners to turn off the power to the thermostat by flipping the appropriate breaker switch before proceeding with any repairs.

A thermostat attached to the wall.
Once you’ve turned off the power, remove the thermostat cover to reveal a nest of wires. Locate the “R” wire terminal on the left and the “W” or “W1” wire terminal at the top.

Wiring of a thermostat

Using the pliers, connect one end of the wire to the “R” terminal and the other end to the “W” or “W1” terminal.

Wire connections of a thermostat

An image showing w1 port of a thermostat

Then, turn the power back on and wait for a couple of minutes to allow the sequencer to heat the element before the blower comes on.

If you hear the heater come on after a few minutes, then the problem is with the thermostat.

However, if the heater still doesn’t come on, then the problem is with the heater itself. It’s important to note that this test is only a temporary solution and that homeowners should replace the faulty thermostat as soon as possible.

Thermostat wiring guide

Thermostat wiring usually involves connecting wires of different colors to specific terminals on the thermostat.

Here is an essential guide to the color coding of thermostat wiring:

  • Red wire (R): This wire connects to the power source of the heating or cooling system. It provides the power to run the thermostat.
  • White wire (W): This wire connects to the heating system. It signals the furnace to turn on and heat the room.
  • Yellow wire (Y): This wire connects to the cooling system. It signals the air conditioner to turn on and cool the room.
  • Green wire (G): This wire connects to the fan in the heating or cooling system. It signals the fan to turn on and circulate air in the room.
  • Blue wire (C): This wire connects to the common side of the power source. It provides a return path for the electrical current to complete the circuit.

How Do I Reset My Circuit Breaker?

Another common problem afflicting non-compliant heaters is not the heater itself, but rather the circuit breakers in your home.

The circuit breakers are usually located in a gray circuit breaker box, which can be found in the basement of your house.

If you cannot locate the circuit breaker box, you may need to contact your electrician to find out where it is.

Most modern houses utilize circuits to supplement the electrical loops rather than fuses.

When you flip open the cover of your circuit breaker box, you will see multiple circuit breakers aligned neatly in several rows, with a single significant switch usually located at the top.

The primary breaker is the major “switch” that controls the entire electrical grid that supplies power to your entire home, including the attic, garage, and basement.

As for the circuit breakers, each switch corresponds to a select room or area within your house. Sometimes, each breaker is meant for an individual equipment or appliance as well.

Your commercial heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system usually has its circuit and runs separately from the other electrical loops.

Most of the time, each circuit breaker switch will be labeled, but if it is not, you can locate the tripped breaker very quickly because it will be “tripped” and face the opposite direction compared to the other breaker switches.

If you have difficulty telling apart which breaker corresponds to which dedicated circuit, ask a friend to help you discover which breaker is connected to which area of your home by flipping the switches up and down one by one.

Now that you have located and labeled our circuit breakers, the next step would be to reset the switches themselves.

To do so, you must take several precautions, including ensuring your hands and feet are not slicked with water, sweat, or any form of liquid or moisture.

You may don a pair of thick rubber gloves as added protection. Use a single hand to gently flip the tripped circuit breaker switch.

If the switch flips back to its opposing position on its own, there is a very high chance that the circuit breaker has been damaged and would require the additional expertise of an experienced electrician.

If the switch moves and stays in position, and is aligned with the switches of the other breakers in the circuit breaker box, then this should restore power to normal.

If you flip the switch back on, but the outdoor unit remains turned off, there is a strong likelihood that you might have a separate outdoor power switch that has yet to be switched off.

In this case, you will need to locate the outdoor power switch and flip it back on manually.

Look out for a separate power box in close proximity to your central unit. There might be either a lever, switch, or even a fuse nestled separately behind the confines of a different box that needs your touch.

What to Do If Your Space Heater Has a Broken Tip-Over Switch?

Another common issue that homeowners face with their space heaters is a broken tip-over switch. The tip-over switch is a safety feature that shuts off the heater if it tips over, preventing fires or other hazards. If the tip-over switch is broken, the heater won’t turn on at all.

To address this problem, you have two options: you can either replace the switch or connect the wires that lead to the switch. However, we highly advise against bypassing safety features like the tip-over switch as they are designed to prevent accidents and should never be tampered with.

What to Do If Your Space Heater Won’t Turn Off?

If your space heater won’t turn off, the issue is most likely with the thermostat.

You can try bypassing the thermostat using the steps mentioned above to determine if the problem is with the thermostat or the heater itself.

However, if the problem persists, it’s best to contact a licensed professional to diagnose and repair your space heater.

How to Bypass the Auto Shut-Off Feature on a Space Heater?

Some homeowners prefer to have space heaters without auto shut-off features, especially if they are using the heater in a well-ventilated area or monitoring it closely.

To bypass the auto shut-off feature, you can either disconnect the wires that lead to the shut-off switch or connect them with a piece of wire.

However, we highly advise against bypassing safety features like the auto shut-off switch as they are designed to prevent accidents.

How Do I Replace My Blown Fuse?

While most houses use circuit breakers, some homes still rely on fuses in a standard gray fuse box as the primary power source.

In the event of a blown fuse, you will need to replace it by following these quick steps:

  • Unplug your heater from the electrical socket and locate the fuse box in your home. The fuse box is typically found in the basement and is made of metal coated in gray paint.
  • Using a torchlight, inspect the fuse box to identify the blown fuse. Look for a fuse that is broken, melted, or discolored compared to the others.
  • Replace the damaged or blown fuse with a new one that has the same specifications as the original. The new fuse must have the same amperage (A), type, and size as the previous one.
  • Using a different fuse can result in a short circuit or even a small explosion or fire. Always double-check to ensure that the replacement fuse matches the specifications of the blown fuse.
  • Once the replacement fuse is in place, plug in your heater and try turning it on. If it switches on successfully, the problem has been resolved.

It is essential to have spare fuses on hand in case of future blown fuses. Remember, the replacements must be identical!

If you are unsure about selecting a new fuse, you can take the damaged blown fuse to the store for assistance and advice in choosing an appropriate replacement.

How Do I Check My Air Filter?

The last possible issue that you can troubleshoot is your air filter. If your heater is emitting a rather noxious or foul odor, there is a high possibility that your air filter is dirty and requires routine cleaning and maintenance.

A dirty air filter might not sound too troublesome at first, but besides producing a rather unpleasant smell, trapping excessive dirt, and reducing airflow, a dirty filter can result in an overheating space heater.

An overheating heater will quickly lead to a malfunctioning one or one that switches off in an attempt to preserve the internal workings of the radiator, preventing any components from sustaining damage or melting.

This would then cause your heater to stop working, and you will be unable to switch it on.

Cleaning out your air filter is therefore mandatory and should be done on a bi-monthly basis.

If you suspect your air filter is clogged or obstructed in any manner, you can consult a service member to inspect the heater for any signs of long-term damage and clean out the filter for you.

Thus, bypassing an electrical shut-off in your electrical heater is quite simple and straightforward.

A variety of issues ranging from a faulty thermostat to a dirty air filter or even a blown fuse and incorrect power supply could all lead to a non-functioning heater.

If you follow the steps listed above, you should be able to troubleshoot any of these possible problems on your own.

If you are not confident about tackling any of these issues concerning your electric heater, then you may always contact a licensed professional to inspect your unit for you.


In conclusion, while bypassing the thermostat on an electric or space heater can be a useful troubleshooting step, it is important to prioritize safety and caution when dealing with electrical equipment. It is recommended to replace faulty thermostats or safety features promptly to maintain the safe operation of your heating system.

If you are uncertain about performing any repairs on your space heater, it is best to seek the assistance of a licensed professional who can diagnose and repair your heating system accurately.

Always remember to prioritize safety and exercise caution to prevent accidents and ensure the long-term functionality of your space heater.