Picture taken by a home inspector Newmarket Jamie Lusted of coils of an electric furnace

Electric Furnace as part of your Home Inspection

JAN 28, 2020

How do electric furnaces work?

Here in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) our homes’ heating equipment is vital. Not only will it keep our loved ones warm and prevent catastrophes such as burst pipes, our HVAC system is also one of our biggest contributors to monthly expenses and a costly system to replace in the home. Having a clear understanding the system you have, its maintenance requirements and expected life will equip you to get the most out of your equipment and plan your finances. You’ll get this information on your General Home Inspection,Home Maintenance Inspection or Pre-listing Inspection.

What do Home Inspectors think about Electric Furnaces

Electric furnaces are quite common in the GTA. I often come across electric heating systems in homes several decades old. They are most commonly installed when/where natural gas infrastructure is not easily accessible. Electric furnaces can be high efficiency and modern or less efficient just as other methods can be more/less efficient depending on make/model, age, maintenance, system efficiency, etc. Electric systems typically have a lower upfront cost than natural gas, usually run quieter, require less maintenance, typically last longer and pose no risk of a gas or carbon monoxide leak. The relative operating cost on an electric furnace compared to other methods can change dramatically with the volatile nature of electricity rates and other fuel prices. Gas furnaces typically have a better response time, heating up your home faster than electric furnaces.

An electric furnace works similar to a gas furnace except instead of fuel being burned to heat the elements, electric heating elements are used. A fan circulates air from return ducts across these elements and pushes it back through the heating vents in your home.

Home Inspection of an Electric Furnace

Your General Home Inspection will include a report section about the heating system. The most common deficiencies I come across are electrical components not working. Because it is an entirely electric system, failures occur in control devices, connections or elements. Your Inspection Report will provide system information but is not meant to diagnose an issue, rather it will tell you if the system components are working using normal operating controls. The Inspection Report will also include: make, model, age, typical useful life, the location of the thermostat and whether any components did not operate.

Whether you are purchasing a new home and getting a General Home Inspection or you would like a clear understanding of your home with our Home Maintenance Inspection. Your Inspection Report is the starting point to make sure your system is efficient and up to date. Refer to our Home Maintenance Recommendations to maximize all of the components of your home and give yourself peace of mind for the upcoming seasons. Contact us to book your Home Inspection in the GTA.

For detailed recommendations on your home heating options visit: NRC Guide to Heating with Electricity


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