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caring for your air conditioning equipment

3 Signs Your Electric Furnace May Have A Faulty Sequencer

by Amy Henry

Electric furnaces are deceptively simple heating devices, and this simplicity makes them very mechanically reliable. Unfortunately, they can still suffer from problems and malfunctions from time to time, and a malfunctioning furnace sequencer can undermine the heating power and efficiency of any electric furnace.

What Are Electric Furnace Sequencers?

All electric furnaces contain a series of heating elements, which function in a very similar way to the heating coils inside a toaster oven. When electricity is passed through these elements, the electrical resistance properties of the metal elements causes them to heat up, heating the surrounding air. This warm air is then channeled into your building using blower fans.

If all of these heating elements were activated at once, the furnace would draw too much power from your building's electrical supply. Sequencers are used to avoid this problem, and these simple devices are used to direct the flow of electricity into each individual element.

When you initially activate your electric furnace, the sequencer will only allow electricity to pass through the first heating element in the series. Once the first element has reach the desired temperature, power is transmitted to the second element, and so on. This moderates the amount of electricity your furnace uses.

What Happens When Electric Furnace Sequencers Fail?

If your electric furnace has a faulty sequencer, it may start to suffer from the following problems:

  • Insufficient heat: In many cases, a faulty sequencer will transmit power to the first heating element as usual, but will not transmit power to the other elements. In these cases, the stricken furnace will create very little useable heat, even if the furnace's other components appear to be functioning normally.
  • No heat: If the sequencer's wiring fails completely, it may not be able to transmit any power to the heating elements, causing your furnace to stop functioning. 
  • Tripped circuit breakers: In other cases, faulty sequencers will immediately start transmitting power to several (or all) of the heating elements when the furnace is activated. This can cause a rapid power overload, tripping the furnace's circuit breakers and deactivating the unit a few seconds after it is switched on.

What Should You Do If Your Furnace Sequencer Fails?

If your furnace is suffering from any of the aforementioned issues, you should call in a professional repair service like Central York Corp to inspect the furnace and its sequencer. While these problems are commonly caused by sequencer faults, they can also be caused by other, more serious mechanical issues, so getting a professional diagnosis is always important.

Fortunately, electric furnace sequencers are inexpensive and relatively simple to replace. Professional repair services should ensure that your furnace is back up and running in a matter of hours.