How does an electric furnace work?

close-up of a thermostat being adjusted

Ready for Electric Furnace Repair?

Even in sunny California, the nights can get chilly, and with winter knocking at our backdoor, those nights are almost here again. Now is the time to get the professional annual inspection, cleaning, and electric furnace repair if needed. 

What are indicators that electric furnace repair is needed? 

Schedule an appointment with a professional furnace contractor, and they’ll ask if you had any problem with the unit th last time it was used. Think back to last winter, and if you remember anything, they need to know. For example, tell them that when it’s turned on, the electric furnace smells like burning. Other issues you may have had would be: 

1. Lights Flickering 

If the lights flickered, or the circuit breaker tripped each time the furnace kicked on, there could be an electrical issue with the unit. This should have been addressed last winter, but now is better than never to get any electric furnace repairs done like this. Never wait when it appears to be an electrical issue. 

2. Humming Sounds 

A buzzing or humming sound is often an indicator of electrical issues too. Again, when you hear these sounds, which are often accompanied by the lights flickering, call for professional electric furnace repair service immediately. 

2. Popping and Rattling Sounds

There should be nothing more than a slight humming when you turn on your electric furnace. If you are hearing clicking, popping, rattling, rumbling, scraping, or high pitched screeching and squealing, you should call for professional electric furnace repair immediately. Make sure you mention this to your technician ASAP. 

3. Condensation

If you had any issues like condensation building up and leaking from your electric furnace, repairs to the condensation line may be needed. The line could be broken, cracked, or disconnected. This repair is fairly simple for the technician. 

5. Cold Air 

If you aren’t sure why the electric furnace blows cold air, and that’s what it did the last time you used the unit, speak up now. A properly working electric furnace should not be blowing cold air – this usually indicates a mechanical issue. 

What size electric furnace do I need?

When the technician that is providing you electric furnace repair recommends it is time to replace the unit with a new one, do you want to stay with electric or would a gas furnace be cheaper? Well, the electric furnace would be less expensive for the installation, averaging between $800 to $1,500. Meanwhile, with a gas furnace prices can range from $1,200 to $6,000 for the furnace and labor. 

For that kind of money, you want to make sure you’re getting the proper size of electric furnace for the size of your home. California has 3 out of 5 zones when it comes to determining the size of heater and air conditioner needed. Your electric furnace repair technician can advise you on what zone you’re located in. Then go by the size of your home to choose the right BTU, using this info as a guideline: 

1200 to 1500 square ft: 55,000 BTU2 tons
1500 to 1800 square ft: 60,000 BTU2.5 tons
1800 to 2500 square ft: 70,000 BTU2.5 to 3 tons
2500 to 3500 square ft: 90,000 to 100,000 BTU3.5 to 4 tons

How efficient are electric furnaces?

When it comes to a gas vs electric furnace, electric furnace efficiency is at 100% AFUE. This means that all the energy an electric furnace generates goes to heating the house. A gas furnace has to use gas to heat the burner before it turns on the actual heat to the house. 

When making the comparison of electric furnace vs heat pump, you also have to remember the heat pump uses electricity too, just not as much as the electric furnace does directly. Under ideal conditions, a heat pump will transfer 300% more of the electric energy than it consumes. A high-efficiency gas furnace is approximately 5 percent efficient. 

Does an electric furnace use a lot of electricity?

It costs pennies to operate basic household items every day on electricity. For example, it costs you 7 cents a day to leave a light 75-watt bulb lamp on for 14 hours! Of course, who leaves a light on for 14 hours? To keep your food refrigerated, it costs you around 20 cents a day and to cook that food on an electric range, using all 4 burners AND the oven, around 84 cents per hour. 

Electricity is a deal when it comes to an electric furnace. For less than $3.00 an hour, you can use up to 25 kw to operate a central electric furnace. If you’re using a three-ton Air Source Heat Pump, without backup running, you’re spending less than 75 cents an hour.

close-up of hands working on a furnace

Last Questions – What is the life expectancy of an electric furnace?

When natural gas isn’t available, electricity is the only choice, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting the short end. The installation of an electric furnace is a straightforward procedure, and it won’t need venting like a gas furnace. 

An electric furnace is the quieter way to heat a home too. A new electric furnace that is installed by a professional will give you a lifespan up to 30 years when taken care of as recommended by the manufacturer. Ready to learn more about electric furnaces? Call us today at (951) 336-1541.