Many homes are heated with an electric furnace. Others use gas and oil furnaces, steam boilers, and wall or freestanding electric heaters. This Fix-It Guide on electric furnace repair tells how an electric furnace works, what often goes wrong, how to identify the electric furnace problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then directs you to other Fix-It Guides for simple step-by-step instructions for how to repair comfort controls, how to clean and adjust the blower, how to lubricate the motor, and how to test and repair or replace the heating element.
How Does an Electric Furnace Work?
An electric furnace uses electrical energy to warm air for distribution throughout the home. An electric forced-air heating (EFA) system includes a heating element, comfort controls, and a forced-air distribution system, each covered in other guides. The source of power, electricity, runs through the electrical service panel .
What Can Go Wrong with an Electric Furnace?
The furnace may not come on. The system may not produce enough heat. The furnace may short cycle (turn on and off repeatedly). The blower may run continuously. The furnace may be noisy.
Don’t try to repair electric furnace heating elements or other major electrical components. Refer to the Heating Element Fix-It Guide and other fix-it guides for troubleshooting information and call a professional HVAC (heat-ventilation-air conditioning) technician for service.
How Can I Identify the Problem with an Electric Furnace?
- If the furnace won’t run, check the electrical service panel for a blown fuse or tripped breaker. Also make sure the power switch on or near the furnace is turned on. Check the unit for a reset button and try it. Some units have a built-in breaker or fuse panel.
- If there is not enough heat, raise the thermostat setting five degrees to see if it turns the unit on. If the unit still does not generate enough heat, check the comfort controls . Clean or replace a dirty filter, clean the blower assembly (see the Forced-Air Distribution Fix-It Guide), and make sure that all registers are open and not blocked.
- If the furnace turns on and off repeatedly (cycles), clean or replace the filter; and clean the blower assembly (see Forced-Air Distribution Fix-It Guide).
- If the furnace is noisy, make sure access panels are mounted and fastened securely; spray squeaking belts with fan-belt dressing and replace worn or damaged belts; adjust the blower belt; lubricate motor and blower oil ports.
- If the element does not heat, refer to the Heating Element Fix-It Guide for guidance.
- If some rooms are too cool and others too warm, the distribution system may require balancing. Refer to the Forced-Air Distribution Fix-It Guide .
If resetting circuit breakers or replacing damaged fuses in the furnace and the electrical service panel doesn’t restore power to the furnace, call an HVAC technician or an electrical contractor with electric furnace training and experience.