How to Repair Electric Heat, Staged Electric Furnaces, Backup Heat & Other Electric Heater Problems
ELECTRIC HEAT DIAGNOSE REPAIR - CONTENTS: How to Diagnose & Repair Electric Heat that Has Stopped Working or is Not Hot Enough - how to diagnose loss of or insufficient electric heat in buildings. Staged Electric Furnaces Using Sequencers to Control Heat or backup heat for heat pump systems. Test & Diagnose Procedure for Electric Furnace Heating Elements - how to test a staged electric furnace. Simple Field Test of Electric Wall or Floor Heater Operation
POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about electric heating systems: buying, installing, diagnosing & repairing electric heat and electric backup heat systems
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Electric heat diagnosis & repair; here we explain how to diagnose & repair electric heat that has stopped working - testing the heating elements in an electric furnace or electric boiler.
We describe how to troubleshoot electric furnaces, boilers, or electric backup heat staged furnaces. We define the operating sequence & test procedures for staged electric furnaces that use sequencers to turn on and off individual heating elements.
We include simple inspection & test procedures for these & other electric heaters such as electric furnaces, boilers, electric baseboards & wall or floor mounted electric heaters. This article series answers most questions about all types of heating systems and gives important inspection, safety, and repair advice.
Sketch at page top courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates.
If you don't know what kind of heat your building uses, we explain how to figure out the answer
at HEATING SYSTEM TYPES.
Test & Diagnose Procedure for Electric Furnace Heating Elements
What do we check if our electric heat is not working? There are a few basic things to check yourself. Other steps require an expert. Sketches courtesy of Carson Dunlop.
Is the thermostat asking for heat? Be sure you know where all of the thermostats for your electric heat are located. Some heaters such as flush-in-floor electric heaters may use a wall-mounted thermostat while other electric baseboard heaters may have individual thermostats on each baseboard unit. In a bathroom with electric radiant heat in the floor, Carson Dunlop suggests finding that hidden thermostat, perhaps inside the sink vanity.
Is electrical power on to the heater? Check the fuses or circuit breakers that supply each electric heater.
If the electric furnace does not seem to be making heat, the electrician or heating technician will use an ammeter to test each of the heating elements to see if one or more of them is not working. She will also check first to confirm that electrical power is on to the unit. If one or more of the staged electric heaters in the furnace has failed, the furnace may make warm air, but not enough warm air in very cold conditions.
See DMM DIGITAL MULTIMETER HOW TO USE and
Check the air temperature rise across the electric furnace. When the furnace has been operating for 20 minutes or longer, typically the temperature at the return plenum (the lower thermometer in the sketch) will show about 70 °F. and the supply plenum temperature will be between 120 °F. and 125 °F. If the supply plenum temperature is too high (over 130 °F.) something's wrong and you should call a heating service technician.
Check radiant heat ceiling panels for wire interruptions. If someone drove an nail into a radiant panel heat ceiling or in the attic above they damaged a wire or heating panel, you may find that that room no longer has heat. We use a hand-held infra-red thermometer scanner to quickly check radiant heat floors and ceilings.
Simple Field Test of Electric Wall or Floor Heater Operation
A simple test procedure if an electric floor or wall heater appears not to be working.
Watch out: shock and electrocution hazards are present. Do not attempt to work on live electrical equipment unless you are trained and qualified to do so.
Check the electrical connections for the electric heater first, visually looking for signs of overheating. Then with a VOM and power on (if you are qualified and thus won't get electrocuted)
Check in the fuse or circuit breaker panel to confirm that electrical power is on and supplied to the electric heater.
Using a voltage tester or a VOM, test the heating element for continuity between its two electrical connection terminals. See tests for electric hot water heaters for details.
Using a voltage tester or a VOM, test for voltage on the circuit wires entering the heater enclosure. If no voltage is detected, work backwards from the heater through junction boxes to trace and find a problem with the electrical circuit supplying the device.
See these electrical inspection and test articles:
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electric baseboard heat wiring troubles
(Nov 3, 2014) Troy said:
I have purchased a home and it has the Lennox E10 Electric Furnace, the blower fan will not shut off. I am looking for the owners manual, wiring diagrams, anything I can get ahold of telling me about this furnace.
(Dec 17, 2014) tammy said:
in my bedroom i got 110v going to thermostat that runs to a electric baseboard heater. from there it connects to another one. i put it in new 3 year ago and worked good. but now having problem not heating. this is what i got. 110v going to thermostate. when turned on pushes out 110. goes to first heater 110v. comes out 110v goes to other heater at 110v but then when i connected the second heater the volts drops to 40v. i took the heater and hooked it up straight to 110v power and it works. not sure whats going on. any advice.
Tammy it is a bit too dangerous to pretend to diagnose unsafe electrical wiring or unsafe electric heating hook-ups just from a limited e-text and when we don't know a thing about your system, wiring, installatin; thus it's too easy to give you the safe advice: you need an onsite licensed electrician.
Perhaps your wiring hookup is incorrect or at least there sounds as if there is a bad connection or short circuit or burned heating element.
For safety I'd suggest you leave the bad-behaving heaters OFF until an expert has taken a look at your wiring.
Question: outdoor unit runs, no heat comes out
(Feb 18, 2015) Lynn said:
My outdoor unit is running but inside there is no heat coming out. I wondered if it could be the thermostat? I can turn it down and the unit will go off and turn it up and it will come on but no air or heat come from the registers.
Lynn if your heating equipment is running outdoors bu tno heat is appearing indoors that sounds like a control board problem or an indoor electric backup heat air handler problem. Your comment suggests that the thermostat works as the system tries to run when your thermostat calls fo rheat.
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Domestic and Commercial Oil Burners, Charles H. Burkhardt, McGraw Hill Book Company, New York 3rd Ed 1969.
National Fuel Gas Code (Z223.1) $16.00 and National Fuel Gas Code Handbook (Z223.2) $47.00 American Gas Association (A.G.A.), 1515 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209 also available from National Fire Protection Association, Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02269. Fundamentals of Gas Appliance Venting and Ventilation, 1985, American Gas Association Laboratories, Engineering Services Department. American Gas Association, 1515 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209. Catalog #XHO585. Reprinted 1989.
The Steam Book, 1984, Training and Education Department, Fluid Handling Division, ITT [probably out of print, possibly available from several home inspection supply companies] Fuel Oil and Oil Heat Magazine, October 1990, offers an update,
Principles of Steam Heating, $13.25 includes postage. Fuel oil & Oil Heat Magazine, 389 Passaic Ave., Fairfield, NJ 07004.
The Lost Art of Steam Heating, Dan Holohan, 516-579-3046 FAX
Principles of Steam Heating, Dan Holohan, technical editor of Fuel Oil and Oil Heat magazine, 389 Passaic Ave., Fairfield, NJ 07004 ($12.+1.25 postage/handling).
"Residential Hydronic (circulating hot water) Heating Systems", Instructional Technologies Institute, Inc., 145 "D" Grassy Plain St., Bethel, CT 06801 800/227-1663 [home inspection training material] 1987
"Warm Air Heating Systems". Instructional Technologies Institute, Inc., 145 "D" Grassy Plain St., Bethel, CT 06801 800/227-1663 [home inspection training material] 1987
Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Volume I, Heating Fundamentals,
Boilers, Boiler Conversions, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23389-4 (v. 1) Volume II, Oil, Gas, and Coal Burners, Controls, Ducts, Piping, Valves, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23390-7 (v. 2) Volume III, Radiant Heating, Water Heaters, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Heat Pumps, Air Cleaners, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23383-5 (v. 3) or ISBN 0-672-23380-0 (set) Special Sales Director, Macmillan Publishing Co., 866 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022. Macmillan Publishing Co., NY
Installation Guide for Residential Hydronic Heating Systems
Installation Guide #200, The Hydronics Institute, 35 Russo Place, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
The ABC's of Retention Head Oil Burners, National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers, TM 115, National Old Timers' Association of the Energy Industry, PO Box 168, Mineola, NY 11501. (Excellent tips on spotting problems on oil-fired heating equipment. Booklet.)
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: email@example.com. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones