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Collier's Heating & Air Conditioning Blog

An Electric Furnace Guide: The Sequencer

dog-under-blanketFurnaces are the top type of heating system in the country. The majority of furnaces use natural gas to create heat, although they draw on electricity to power the blower fan and the ignition system. (Which means that, sorry, your gas furnace won’t work during a power outage.)

Since not all homes are connected to a gas main, the second most common type of furnace is the electric furnace. Because electricity costs more than natural gas, electric furnaces are more expensive to run. This is somewhat offset by their lower initial installation costs, longer lifespans, and fewer repair needs.

The Sequencer Is the Key to Proper Electric Furnace Operation

Gas furnaces and electric furnaces operate on the same principle: a blower fan sends air through the furnace, where it is warmed up, and then into the ventilation system. But outside of the blower and air handler, the two types are much different. An electric furnace uses an array of heating elements, which are enclosed metal coils that heat up when electricity passes through them. This is known as electrical resistance heating. Electric ovens work on the same principle. A furnace contains multiple heating elements. If all turned on at the same time, it would overload the circuitry and cause a breaker to trip.

This is where the sequencer is important. As the name indicates, it turns on the heating elements in a sequence to allow for the right amount of heat output without creating an overload.

The sequencer is between the heating elements and the thermostat. When you turn the thermostat to a setting requiring the furnace come on, the thermostat a current to the sequencer first. The sequencer contains a series of heat reactive circuits that prevent the current from passing through them all at once. Instead, the voltage goes to the first heating element. As more heat radiates from the heating element, the voltage is permitted to pass to the next heat reactive circuit and the next heating element. This continues for each of the heating elements, bringing them on one at a time and avoiding circuit overload.

A Failed Sequencer

A broken sequencer is one of the problems an electric furnace may encounter. When the sequencer stops working correctly, such as having one of its heat reactive circuits burn out, it often means the furnace’s heating elements either won’t turn on at all or only a few will. If you aren’t getting the heating level you want from your electric furnace, or there’s no heat coming at all, a broken sequencer may be at fault.

Another problem a malfunctioning sequencer may cause is allowing all the heating elements to turn on at once, creating a tripped circuit breaker. If you turn on your furnace and it trips a circuit breaker, it could be a number of issues—but a busted sequencer is a strong possibility.

Call the Professionals

An electric furnace doesn’t present the same potential hazards as a gas furnace, but that doesn’t mean you can do a DIY fix on one. If your electric furnace stops working, call for heating repair in Plymouth, IN from our team. We’ll have your furnace repaired quickly and correctly.

Collier’s Heating & Air Conditioning: for more than 30 years, a company you’ve grown to trust.

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