5 Signs That You Have A Burnt Out Heating Element

When the temperature dips and you turn to your trusty HVAC system for comfort, the last thing you expect is a blast of cold air. 

For many homeowners, understanding the signs of a failing heating element can be the difference between a quick fix and a costly replacement. Here at Anderson Air, we are committed to guiding our customers through the ins and outs of their heating system woes with straightforward advice. 

Whether your home isn’t heating up or there’s an unusual chill in the air, we’re here to help you spot the telltale signs of a burnt-out heating element before it’s time to call in the professionals. The following will be a discussion of what to look out for and how to care for your heating unit. 

How to tell if you have a bad furnace heating element: 5 Signs

If you suspect something is wrong with your furnace, it could be the heating element. Here are five signs your heating component has gone awry. 

1. Unusual smells or signs of burning

If you detect a persistent, unusual odor like burning plastic or metal in a room, it could indicate that the heating element in your system is deteriorating. This often results in a noticeable smell near the appliance and could ultimately affect repair costs. To avoid the risk of fire or injury, if you smell burning, get your unit checked out immediately. 

2. Inconsistent or uneven heating in rooms

If you find that some rooms are significantly warmer or cooler than others, your furnace’s heating element might be failing. Inconsistent room temperature is a red flag and could also indicate other issues with your system.

3. The heating unit takes longer to reach the desired temperature

If your unit takes much longer than normal to heat up your home a few degrees, it could be a sign of a worn-out heating element. Extended heating time often correlates with decreased efficiency, possibly increasing energy use and costs.

4. Visible damage to the heating element or adjacent wall  

Watch for discoloration or damage to the wall adjacent to the heating unit – scorch marks or melting can signal that the unit or components are overheating. Such damage not only indicates that the heating element may need costly repairs or replacement, it poses a safety risk.

5. Sudden increase in heating costs 

A significant rise in your heating bill without a change in your home heating habits could indicate that your heating element isn’t operating efficiently. Faulty elements often consume more energy to produce the same degrees of warmth, causing your costs to soar.

Why is your heating element burning out?

But why is it happening? What can cause your unit to fail

  • Faulty wiring

Improper or old wiring is often a leading contributor to heating element failure. Frayed wires, loose connections, and inadequate voltage can cause your system to break down. Regular inspections by a certified electrician can prevent such problems and ensure the area surrounding your furnace stays safe.

  • Corrosion

Over time, the components in your heating system, including the heating element, can become susceptible to corrosion — especially if the area has high humidity or from the chemicals from household cleaners. Corrosion weakens the metal, causing the element to fail prematurely.

  • System strain

Running your heating system continuously without proper maintenance places a significant strain on the heating element. Some factors that can cause excess strain include clogged filters, blocked vents, or an incorrectly sized unit for the area served. These all force the element to work harder to maintain the desired temperature.

  • Wear and tear

The natural lifespan of a heating element can be shortened by regular wear and tear. High-quality service and routine check-ups can mitigate this factor, but parts will eventually degrade with age, especially if you use your system often or for high temperatures. 

  • Lack of proper maintenance

Negligence can lead to system failure. Tasks like inspecting the heating element, cleaning the system, and making adjustments, can reduce the risk of sudden breakdowns. 

Hiring a professional technician can spot issues like fuel tank leaks or airflow blockages early on. Regular care can also prevent small issues from developing into larger complications. 

How to prevent your heating system from burning out

To maintain your system and stop the heating element from burning out, here are a few effective strategies:

Regular maintenance: Keep a regular maintenance schedule. Annually, or as recommended by your system’s manufacturer, hire a certified professional to inspect your unit and perform necessary service. This includes checking for and repairing any wiring issues, ensuring there’s no corrosion, and replacing worn components.

Proper insulation: Make sure your home is well insulated to retain heat and reduce the burden on your heating system. Focus on key areas, like the attic, walls, and floors. Proper insulation can minimize heat loss and keep the element from overworking, thus prolonging its life.

Check your thermostat: Utilize programmable thermostats to reduce heating demands during hours when it’s not essential—like when the house is empty or during night-time. Balancing the temperature efficiently prevents the element from excessive cycling and stress.

Optimize airflow: Ensure that vents and filters are clean and unobstructed to allow for optimal airflow. Restricted airflow can strain the heating element, leading to potential burnout. Replace or clean filters regularly as advised by the unit’s guidelines, and use your windows and doors effectively. 

Make sure your unit is the right size: Have your heating system properly sized and installed by professionals. An undersized unit will overcompensate to heat your space, while an oversized unit can cycle too frequently, causing unnecessary wear on components.

Consider an upgrade: Consider buying an energy-efficient upgrade for your furnace or heat pump. Modern equipment is designed to utilize less energy for the same level of heating, ultimately reducing system strain.

Following these steps not only assists in preventing burnout of the heating element but also contributes to more efficient system performance, saving energy and reducing heating bills in the long term.

Know when to call a professional

While regular maintenance can prevent many issues, certain situations specifically require the expertise of a technician. If your system continues to malfunction after troubleshooting, or if you’re experiencing other issues, it’s time to call in a pro. HVAC experts are trained to handle various types of issues and will help you get your furnace back up and running in no time. 

Don’t fret and don’t freeze – Call the pros at Anderson Air. 

If you need assistance with your furnace or any other part of your HVAC system, for that matter, call Anderson Air. With over 50 years of hands-on experience, we make it our duty to assist you with your needs. Get in touch with our team today for more information or to book an appointment – experience the best care with Anderson Air. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top