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Is Your Electric Furnace Not Up to the Task?

cold-sweater-manThere’s a good reason natural gas furnaces are common for heating in Burlington, VT: they have immense heat output that can overcome even the deepest cold days. And we have quite a few super-cold days in Vermont and New York! A gas furnace not only effectively warms up a house, it also saves money since natural gas costs less to use than electricity.

Natural gas, however, isn’t available to all homes in our area. Some homeowners prefer not to use it even if it is available because of safety concerns. For those homes, the electric furnace is always an option—and it can be an effective option as well.

But this winter, are you finding your house is colder than normal, even when you have the furnace turned up all the way? The electric furnace may not be up to its job. Let’s find out why.

A caution up front: don’t keep turning up the thermostat

If your home isn’t getting the usual warmth, don’t try to compensate by cranking the thermostat to the max setting. Something is wrong, and it needs to be repaired. You may end up wasting enormous amounts of money for little gain in warmth.

Is this a new furnace?

If you’re spending your first winter with this furnace, than the problem may be one of sizing. Not the physical size of the furnace, but how much tonnage of heat it can put out. If a new furnace can’t do its job, it’s possible that it never could do the job. This is a common trouble that results from letting amateurs install a furnace. Or worse, a homeowner doing it as a DIY project. Any heating system needs to be carefully sized to meet the heating requirements of the home, and this takes professionals.

A burnt-out heating element

At the core of an electric furnace is a series of heating elements. These are enclosed metal coils where electric current creates heat as it flows through, much like the wires in a toaster. The heat from the heating elements is what warms up the air passing through the furnace and into the ventilation system. Individual elements might burn out, causing the furnace to lose some but not all of its heating power. HVAC technicians can either repair or replace the broken element.

A broken sequencer

The sequencer is a component located between the thermostat and the heating elements. It prevents the heating elements from turning on all at once and overloading the electrical system. The sequencer instead staggers the flow of electricity to the different elements. A broken sequencer might fail to turn on some of the heating elements.

Thermostat troubles

The issue may not be in the furnace itself, but in the thermostat. A faulty thermostat reading incorrect temperatures may shut the furnace and the fan off early before reaching the set temperature. Technicians can re-calibrate the thermostat to fix this. You may wish to look into a thermostat upgrade, which experts can also help you with.

Count on us for whatever ails your electric furnace. We’ll hone in on what’s wrong and have it remedied!

Red Rock Mechanical, LLC offers heating assistance to Northwest Vermont & Northeast New York.

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