It can be frustrating when you’re ready to settle in for a quick sauna session and your sauna doesn’t heat up. You’re ready to go, but your sauna isn’t – is there anything you can do to troubleshoot it and get your relaxation back on track?
If your sauna isn’t heating up, ensure that you have given it adequate time, especially if the environment is cooler than usual. If your sauna isn’t warm after 45 minutes, it may mean there are issues with the power source, thermostat, or heating element. Most problems with your sauna will be easily identified through basic testing.
Keep reading for the most common reasons you’re sauna isn’t heating up, plus some troubleshooting tips to get it back up and running.
The most common reasons a sauna is not heating up
Your sauna is a place of rest and relaxation – not to mention detoxification and loads of other benefits – but what happens if your happy place doesn’t heat up?
The most common reasons your sauna isn’t heating up are:
- Time – It can seem as if the sauna isn’t heating up when it’s just not hot enough yet to be obvious. Allow at least 45 minutes for the sauna to heat before worrying it’s not working.
- Power source – A blown fuse, tripped circuit breaker, or damaged cord can lead to your sauna not receiving power even if its plugged in and seems to be set up correctly.
- Thermostat – The problem may be that your thermostat isn’t reading correctly or not functioning at all, which could mean the heating element in the sauna is failing to activate.
- Heating element – Damage to the heating element will obviously keep the sauna from functioning properly. Check to see if it appears to working, but is not emitting heat.
How long does it take a sauna to heat up?
It’s important to remember that a traditional sauna raises the temperature of the area significantly – typically to 180-195°F – in addition to creating steam so you’re unlikely to feel the effects immediately.
A home sauna generally takes 30-45 minutes to warm up, but this time will be dependent on the starting temperature of the sauna space, the size of the area being warmed, and the strength of the heating element.
If your sauna is not warm enough after 45 minutes, check out the guidelines below for troubleshooting.
How to test a sauna that isn’t working
When you notice that your sauna is not heating up, or not heating to the temperature you desire, you can do some testing to help identify the problem.
Most problems with sauna heating are easy to identify and fix with some basic testing of the:
- Power source
- Heating elements
Once you have identified the source of the malfunction, there are some simple fixes that may allow you to solve the problem quickly and get your sauna back up and running.
If you are unable to identify the problem, it is best to defer to a professional.
It may be obvious, but your sauna will not work if it’s not receiving power. However, it’s not always as easy as checking to see if it’s plugged into the outlet.
If your sauna doesn’t seem to be getting power, check the:
- GFCI outlet
- Breaker box
Keep reading for details on how to troubleshoot each of these issues.
Your sauna should be connected to a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet, which is used in any area where there is water.
If there is an overload of power or any type of change, the outlet will shut down and stop the flow of power.
To test power in a GFCI outlet, press the “reset” button, plug in a test device such as a lamp or radio, and press “test.” If the test device turns off, the outlet is working, but if it remains on, the outlet has been damaged and needs to be replaced.
Depending on how comfortable you are working with electrical wiring, this can be done with a quick trip to your local hardware store, or you may need to contact a professional.
A blown fuse and a tripped breaker are very similar and which one you’re looking for will likely depend on the age of the wiring in your home. A fuse box is identifiable by the small, round fuses that screw into the fuse box.
Identify which fuse the sauna is on. If the fuse has blown, the interior of the glass will appear grey or black rather than clear. To replace a fuse, ensure that everything that draws power through that fuse – ie anything not currently drawing power – is unplugged (not just turned off). Unscrew the old fuse and replace it with a new one.
If the fuse repeatedly blows, you probably have too many things attempting to draw power through the same circuit. You will either need to unplug something or, in more extreme cases, contact an electrician about upgrading your wiring to accommodate the power required by the sauna.
Most homes will have a breaker box rather than a fuse box. In addition to being able to provide significantly more amperage to the home than most fuse boxes, circuit breakers trip rather than blow, which allows them to be easily reset instead of needing to be replaced.
The circuit breaker the sauna is connected to should be clearly marked, but, if tripped, it will be easily identifiable because the breaker switch will be flipped the opposite way of all the others. Run your hand down the side of the switches for a quick and easy way to identify if there’s an issue since it can be difficult to tell as the switches are typically black on a black panel and breaker boxes are often installed somewhere out of the way and potentially not well-lit.
If the breaker trips again, you should consult with an electrician since specialized tools are required for further testing of the circuit breaker.
Once you’ve determined the sauna is receiving power, your next step is to check the thermostat.
To determine if your thermostat is working correctly, simply check whether the temperature on an internal thermometer matches the temperature on the thermostat. For example, if you set the temperature to 90℉, is the internal temperature of the sauna actually reaching 90℉? If the temperatures do not match, your thermostat may be inaccurate or may not be reading the correct temperature within the sauna.
You can also test whether the temperature changes if you adjust the temperature on the thermostat. If you turn it up to 100℉, does the temperature rise at all?
If it does not change with adjustment, it may not be functioning at all and you will either need to replace the thermostat yourself or contact the manufacturer for a repair.
If your power source is intact and your thermostat is working, you may need to test the heating element.
In a traditional sauna, there are multiple heating elements that should glow red when they are connected to a power source and turned on.
- If none of the elements are red, the sauna may have been wired at the incorrect voltage, and repair will require the assistance of an electrician.
- If just one or a few elements are not red, they have likely burned out, and you can replace them.
- If the pilot light is on but there is no heat, you may have tripped the sauna high limit.
How to reset a sauna that isn’t working
So you have figured out the problem with your sauna. Is there anything you can do to fix it yourself?
Often, a simple switch or button press will do the trick when it comes to getting your sauna heated. There are a few basic fixes you can try once you’ve identified the problem so you can get back to enjoying your sauna as soon as possible.
Of course, if one of these simple fixes won’t do the trick, or if you haven’t figured out the problem, you should leave the work to the professionals. Call an electrician for any issues with power, wiring, or heating elements that require any further investigation.
After testing as I described earlier, you can reset the GFCI outlet, as long as you have found that it is functional.
First, unplug everything. Then, press the button that says “reset” (you should hear a click). Plug the sauna back into the outlet, and it should begin working again.
If it trips again, you may be overloading the circuit.
If the outlet failed the test, call an electrician to replace the outlet.
Breakers and Fuses
Hopefully, you have labeled all the circuit breaker switches in your home. If so, you will easily find the breaker for the sauna outlet.
Simply reset the breaker by switching it all the way off, and then back on. If your breakers are not labeled, look for a switch that is partway between the “on” and “off” positions – that is most likely the breaker you need to reset.
If you have an older home, you may have a fuse box instead of a circuit breaker. As I described above, look for a fuse that is grey or black, indicating the fuse has melted. If this is the case, you will need to replace the fuse. Make sure you have the correct replacement fuse on hand, then remove the old fuse and replace it to restore power to your sauna.
If your thermostat is functioning, responding to temperature adjustments but not reading the ambient temperature of the sauna correctly, check the placement of the heat sensor.
The ideal placement for the sensor is 18 inches above and 18 inches to the side of the heater so that it does not turn off the heat prematurely.
You may also need to replace the thermostat itself if it has become damaged or is no longer functioning.
Sauna high limit
If your sauna appears to be on but there is no heat or you can see that the pilot light is on but the sauna is not warming, you may have tripped the sauna’s high limit, which prevents it from overheating.
On your sauna’s control panel, there should be a “reset” button. Simply press this button, and the heating elements should begin working again.
How to fix a sauna that isn’t working
If you’ve tried all of the resets and none of them have worked, what are your options?
If you are unable to fix the heating situation using any of these tips and tricks, it may be time to call in a professional. Or, if your sauna heater is aging, it may be time to replace it.
The easiest and most reasonable fix may be to replace your heater, but if you have only had it a few years, you may wish to look into sauna heater repair.
How long does a sauna heater last?
Is there a quick way to figure out of I need to check every element of the sauna or is it likely that it’s time for a replacement? How long does a sauna heater last?
A sauna heater can last anywhere from 5 to 20 years, depending upon how frequently it is used and the type of heater in place. If you use your sauna more than three times a week or if you have a smaller heater that has to work harder, you may have to replace your heater more frequently.
If none of the resets work and your heater is getting old, it may be time for a replacement.
Sauna heater repair
To find a professional near you who can help with heater repair or electrical issues, it would be wise to check a list like HomeAdvisor which has professional credentials and user reviews.
Make sure that the person you use is a licensed and insured electrician or HVAC technician to ensure the best results.