When your electric furnace first turns on, it uses a lot of power. This is true of any appliance, but when it happens with your furnace, the excess power demand could cause a circuit breaker to trip in your electrical panel. This doesn't happen very often because of the sequencer in your furnace. Here's a look at what the sequencer does and how you can tell if it's malfunctioning.
The Purpose of a Furnace Sequencer
The sequencer controls the heating coils in your electric furnace. The coils are what heats the air that gets circulated in your home, and your furnace has two or more sets of these coils.
When your furnace kicks on, the sequencer only allows one coil to heat up. That keeps the furnace from tripping a breaker. Once the first coil is hot enough, the sequencer allows the second coil to start heating up and so on until all the coils are hot and heating the air in the furnace.
The Signs a Furnace Sequencer Is Bad
The sequencer is hidden inside your furnace with the wiring to the heating coils. You won't be able to see it, but you'll have signs that something is wrong with your furnace when the sequencer goes bad. Your heating elements may not turn on at all, and then the furnace won't be able to heat your house.
It's also possible that the sequencer will lose control over the coils so that they all come one at once. When that happens, the circuit breaker will probably trip. If you reset the breaker and it trips again, leave the furnace off and call a furnace repair service for help so you don't overload the circuit and cause a fire or other damage to the furnace or your electrical system.
Another sign of a bad sequencer is when your furnace kicks on and runs normally but it doesn't heat your house very well. This happens when the first coil heats up but the other coils don't get a signal from the sequencer to start heating.
The way to tell for sure if the sequencer is bad is to have a furnace repair technician check it with a meter. If the sequencer is bad, it has to be replaced. This involves opening the furnace, disconnecting the bad sequencer, putting in the new part, connecting all the wiring, and then testing the furnace.
A bad sequencer is a common problem in electric furnaces. However, other things can cause your furnace to malfunction and have similar signs. That's why it's good to call a furnace repair professional when your furnace isn't heating as it should. There might be problems with the wiring or electrical parts like the sequencer that could create a hazard in your home.