Electric furnaces use up to seven heating elements, also referred to as resistance coils, to heat a home. A blower fan moves the heat generated from the heating elements through the home. The life expectancy of an electric furnace is 15 to 25 years, but the parts, such as the heating elements, will need to be replaced from time to time.
The heating element's part number is on the heating element. All furnaces list the model and serial number in a visible area to assist in finding replacement parts. If the furnace is installed by a service provider, the service provider also places a sticker with contact information on the outside of the furnace for assistance and repair services. If the number isn't available, the furnace's manufacturer, also labeled clearly on the outside of the furnace, will provide the correct heating element replacement part.
Replacing the heating elements in an electric furnace typically requires a qualified HVAC technician. The company that installed the furnace often employs HVAC technicians skilled at repairing the specific electric furnace. Some manufacturers supply what is referred to as a string kit, which replaces the faulty heating element by replacing only the heating coils on the element. The company that installed the electric furnace will suggest replacement parts required for the repair.
Costs for replacing heating elements can vary, generally starting at $100 to $300 per heating element. The price typically includes parts and service. The cost will increase for emergency service. Because electric furnaces have at least three heating elements, one becoming faulty won't interrupt the furnace's functioning. However, its ability to heat will be reduced, depending on the number of malfunctioning heating elements.
To avoid costly emergency repairs, have a back-up heating system ready. A space heater will sufficiently heat an area of the home. Test the back-up heating source to ensure enough heat is distributed to comfortably heat the home. Larger homes may require several space heaters to provide enough heat in specific areas of the home. A pellet stove rated at 60,000 British Thermal Units can effectively heat up to 2,000 square feet. Although pellet stoves are costly, they can efficiently supplement the heat of an electric furnace to save money on utility bills.