All About Electric Furnaces
When shopping for a new heating unit to replace an outdated model, there are so many different types of systems to choose from. If the goal is purchasing an economical system while retaining heating power, consider the advantages of an electric furnace.
Selecting an Electric Furnace
The key to purchasing the right electric furnace is size. Determining the right size tonnage based on the square footage of your home along with the climate where you live is key. For example, if you live in the north in Zone 5 and your home is between 1400 to 1600 square feet, a 2.5-ton electric furnace can do the job. In comparison, a home in the southern Zone 1 region with square footage of 1501 to 1800 square feet needs the power of a 3-ton unit.
Pros and Cons of Electric Furnaces
In general, if you prefer an electric powered system versus a gas system, the initial cost of an electric furnace is less. But keep in mind, the cost to operate an electric furnace will be higher than a gas or oil unit. Something else to keep in mind is an electric furnace works exceptionally well in colder climates over heat pumps.
When it comes to durability, electric units typically have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years.
Installation time is less than that of a full HVAC system or oil furnace. This is an important advantage as it means your household will be disrupted for a short time as compared to the installation of other types of systems.
Electric furnaces are quiet which adds an additional level of comfort to your home.
An added bonus of electric furnaces is they offer a low risk option especially compared to a gas furnace. With an electric furnace, you never need to worry about potentially dangerous carbon monoxide leaks the way you do with a gas furnace.
Electric furnaces are low on maintenance needs. With a scheduled annual check-up by an HVAC professional yearly, or as recommended by the manufacturer, your furnace will keep going strong.
Tips for Electric Furnace Maintenance
Along with scheduled visits from a pro, there are several steps you need to take to ensure the system operates at top peak. Your electric furnace works hard to funnel air from every room in the house and needs proper maintenance. Follow these simple steps to a dust, dirt, and dander free system.
- Before doing anything, turn off the power and unplug the system. Never work on the system while electricity is running through the system.
- Keep yourself extra safe by wearing appropriate safety gear such as rubber gloves, rubber soled shoes, and protective eye wear such as safety goggles.
- Materials you need include a screwdriver, soft brush, several soft towels, vacuum, and a replacement filter, if needed.
- Every electric furnace system has an instruction manual. Acquaint yourself with the dos and don’ts. Read the manual from the first page to the last especially any warnings and information about items or products not to be used on the furnace.
- The filter is a hard working part of the furnace and must be kept clean for the unit to run efficiently. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacing a disposable filter, or the steps when working with a reusable filter.
- The air blower also must be kept clean. Use the screwdriver to remove the cover panel. You may also need to remove the fan. Some assemblies slide out, making access easier, it just depends on the model. Clean the blades with the small brush, removing all dirt and debris. With the vacuum hose, remove all the loose dirt. Wipe down the unit using a clean soft cloth.
- With another cloth, thoroughly wipe down the motor housing. Do not use soap or water unless specifically approved by the manufacturer as these items can damage the furnace. Keeping this part of the system clean promotes efficient operation and prevents the furnace from overheating.
- Belts and pulleys play a significant role in furnace operation as they work with the motor which produces the heat for your home. Visually check the belts for any issues such as worn areas, cracks, breaks, or tears. Replace if necessary or call a technician to do the job. If they look good, scrub them with a brush, then wipe them down with another soft cloth.
- If the manufacturer instructions allow for the use of water to clean areas such as the blades or belts, allow the furnace to completely dry before plugging in and restoring electricity to the unit.
Now that you know the pros and cons of an electric furnace, what to look for in tonnage size, and what type of maintenance is involved, you will be better prepared to make an informed decision. While an electric furnace may cost more to operate, it more than makes up for the cost with quiet efficiency, low maintenance and a high safety threshold.