Why is my electric furnace blowing cold air?

Why is my electric furnace blowing cold air

It’s frustrating when you’re relying on your electric furnace to keep you warm and it starts blowing out cold air instead. Not only can it be uncomfortable, but it can also be a sign of a more serious issue. In this article, we’ll explore some potential reasons why your electric furnace is blowing cold air and provide some DIY fixes that may help you solve the problem.

Key Takeaways:

  • A malfunctioning electric furnace can blow cold air, causing discomfort and potentially signaling a more serious issue.
  • Possible causes include incorrect thermostat settings, dirty or clogged air filters, tripped circuit breakers, malfunctioning heating elements, faulty fan motors, problematic limit switches, and air leaks in the ductwork.
  • Regular maintenance, including filter cleaning/replacement and professional inspections, can help prevent future instances of cold air blowing from your electric furnace.
  • If DIY troubleshooting doesn’t work, it may be necessary to consult a professional technician.

Check the thermostat settings

One of the most common reasons for an electric furnace to blow cold air is incorrect thermostat settings. It may seem obvious, but it’s always worth double-checking the thermostat before assuming there’s a more complex issue at play.

To check the thermostat, first ensure that it’s set to “heat” mode and that the temperature is set to a desired level. If the thermostat is programmable, check that the current temperature settings align with the desired schedule.

If the thermostat settings are correct, it’s worth testing the thermostat itself to ensure it’s functioning properly. This can be done by turning off the power to the furnace, removing the thermostat cover, and inspecting the wires and connections. If any wires are disconnected or damaged, they will need to be repaired or replaced.

If the thermostat appears to be functioning correctly but the electric furnace is still blowing cold air, it’s time to move on to the next troubleshooting step.

Inspect the air filter

One of the most common reasons for an electric furnace blowing cold air is a dirty or clogged air filter. When the filter is obstructed, it restricts airflow, which can cause the furnace to overheat and shut off prematurely. As a result, the air that blows from the furnace may be cool or even cold.

To inspect the air filter, locate the air intake in your furnace. This is typically a large square or rectangular vent on the side or bottom of the furnace. Once you locate the intake, remove the filter from its slot. Check the filter for any visible signs of dirt or debris. If the filter appears dirty or clogged, it’s time for a cleaning or replacement.

If your furnace uses a disposable filter, replace it with a new one. Make sure to purchase the appropriate size and fit for your furnace. On the other hand, if your furnace uses a washable filter, rinse it with warm water and let it dry completely before putting it back in place.

Inspecting and cleaning/replacing your air filter regularly will help ensure proper airflow and prevent the occurrence of your electric furnace blowing cold air. Consider a monthly inspection and cleaning/replacement schedule to keep your furnace running smoothly.

Examine the circuit breaker

If your electric furnace is blowing cold air, it could be due to a tripped circuit breaker. The circuit breaker is responsible for providing power to the furnace, and if it trips, the furnace will not function correctly.

To check the circuit breaker:

  1. Locate the circuit breaker panel in your home.
  2. Identify the breaker for the furnace (refer to the panel labeling).
  3. Check if the breaker has tripped to the “off” position.
  4. If it has, switch it back to the “on” position.
  5. Wait a few minutes for the furnace to turn on and blow warm air.

If the breaker trips again, there may be an issue with the furnace’s electrical system, and it’s best to call a professional technician to inspect and repair it.

Check the heating elements

If your electric furnace continues to blow cold air, the heating elements may be the culprit. These elements are responsible for heating the air before it’s circulated throughout your home. Malfunctioning or faulty heating elements can lead to cold air blowing from your furnace.

To inspect the heating elements, first, turn off the power to your furnace. Then, locate the heating elements. Check for any visible signs of damage, such as cracks or breaks. Next, use a multimeter to test the continuity of each element. If they fail the test, they will need to be replaced.

If you’re unsure about inspecting or replacing the heating elements, it’s best to consult a professional technician.


Regular maintenance can help prevent issues with the heating elements. Replace the air filter at least every three months to ensure proper airflow and prevent the elements from overheating.

Test the fan motor

If the thermostat is set correctly, the air filter is clean, and the circuit breaker is working, it’s time to move on to the fan motor. The fan motor is responsible for circulating the warm air from the electric furnace throughout your home. If the fan motor is not working correctly, it may cause the furnace to blow cold air.

To test the fan motor, turn off the power to the furnace and remove the fan from the motor. Inspect the fan for any signs of damage, such as bent blades or excessive wear and tear. If the fan appears to be in good condition, use a multimeter to check the voltage from the furnace to the motor. If there is no voltage reading, it could indicate a problem with the control board.

If the voltage reading is correct, but the motor still doesn’t spin, it may need to be replaced. You can replace the fan motor yourself if you have experience with electrical work, but it’s typically best to hire a professional technician. A technician can diagnose and repair any issues with the fan motor and ensure that it’s working correctly.

Remember, it’s essential to address any issues with your electric furnace as soon as possible to prevent further damage and ensure that your home stays warm and comfortable during the colder months. If you’re unsure about any of these troubleshooting steps, be sure to consult with a professional technician.

Inspect the limit switch

Another potential cause of your electric furnace blowing cold air is a malfunctioning limit switch. This switch regulates the temperature and prevents overheating in your furnace. If it malfunctions, it could cause your furnace to blow cold air.

To inspect the limit switch:

  1. Turn off power to your furnace.
  2. Locate the limit switch. It is typically a small metal box located on or near the furnace.
  3. Remove the cover and use a multimeter to test the switch for continuity.
  4. If the switch is faulty, it will need to be replaced by a professional technician.

Note: If you have limited experience with electrical systems, it is recommended that you seek the assistance of a professional technician to avoid any potential hazards.

Check for air leaks in ductwork

If your electric furnace is blowing cold air, the issue may not be with the furnace itself but rather with the ductwork. Air leaks in the ductwork can cause warm air to escape, resulting in cool air blowing out of your vents. This can be a frustrating problem, but the good news is that it can often be resolved with some simple troubleshooting.

The first step in addressing this issue is to inspect your ductwork for any visible signs of air leaks. This may include holes, gaps, or cracks in the ducts themselves. You can also check for leaks by feeling for air escaping from the ducts or listening for whistling or hissing sounds when your furnace is running.

If you find any air leaks, you can often seal them using duct tape or mastic sealant. It’s important to use the correct type of sealant for your specific type of ductwork to ensure a secure seal. You may also want to consider insulating your ductwork to help prevent heat loss and improve energy efficiency.

It’s worth noting that if you suspect that your ductwork is not properly sized or installed, it may be necessary to consult a professional HVAC technician for assistance. They can help you evaluate your ductwork and make any necessary repairs or adjustments to ensure that your system is functioning properly and efficiently.

Consult a professional technician

If the DIY troubleshooting tips do not successfully resolve the issue of your electric furnace blowing cold air, it may be necessary to seek the assistance of a professional technician. Though this may incur additional costs, it can be crucial for identifying and resolving more complex issues with your furnace.

When selecting a professional technician, it is important to choose a reputable and licensed provider. Look for reviews and references from previous customers, and ensure that the technician has experience and expertise in working with electric furnaces.

Regular professional maintenance can help prevent future issues with your electric furnace and ensure that it is functioning efficiently. It is recommended to schedule an annual inspection and cleaning to keep your furnace in optimal condition.

Maintenance Tips to Prevent Future Issues

Regular maintenance is key to preventing an electric furnace from blowing cold air. Here are some maintenance tips to keep your electric furnace operating efficiently:

  • Clean or replace the air filter: A dirty or clogged air filter can restrict airflow and cause your electric furnace to blow cold air. Check your air filter monthly and clean or replace it as needed.
  • Schedule professional inspections: Regular inspections by a professional technician can catch potential issues before they become major problems. Consider scheduling an inspection at least once a year.
  • Seal air leaks in ductwork: Air leaks in your ductwork can cause warm air to escape and result in your electric furnace blowing cold air. Use duct mastic or metal tape to seal any leaks you find.
  • Keep the area around your furnace clean: Avoid storing flammable materials near your electric furnace. Keep the area clean and free from debris to prevent fire hazards.
  • Consider upgrading to a programmable thermostat: A programmable thermostat can help you save energy and money by adjusting the temperature automatically. Set it to lower the temperature when you’re away and increase it when you’re home.

Following these maintenance tips can help prevent future issues and keep your electric furnace running smoothly. Don’t forget to consult a professional technician if you experience any problems or have any questions.

Common Myths About Electric Furnaces Blowing Cold Air

If your electric furnace is blowing cold air, you may have heard some myths about the possible causes. However, it’s important to distinguish between fact and fiction in order to effectively troubleshoot and resolve the issue. Here are some common myths about electric furnaces blowing cold air:

Myth Reality
Myth: Your electric furnace is too old. Reality: While age can be a factor in an electric furnace’s performance, it’s not always the cause of the issue. There are many components that can fail or malfunction regardless of the furnace’s age.
Myth: You need to constantly adjust your thermostat. Reality: Constantly adjusting your thermostat can actually cause more harm than good. It can put unnecessary strain on your furnace and result in inconsistent heating. It’s best to set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature and leave it be.
Myth: Closing vents in unused rooms will save energy. Reality: Closing vents in unused rooms can actually disrupt the airflow throughout your home and cause your furnace to work harder than necessary. This can lead to higher energy bills and potential furnace issues down the line.

By debunking these myths, you can more accurately diagnose and troubleshoot any issues with your electric furnace blowing cold air. Don’t fall for the misinformation and always seek out reliable sources for guidance.


In conclusion, an electric furnace blowing cold air can be frustrating and uncomfortable. However, there are several potential reasons for this issue, which we have explored in this article.

Checking and adjusting the thermostat settings, inspecting the air filter, examining the circuit breaker, testing the heating elements and fan motor, inspecting the limit switch, and checking for air leaks in the ductwork are all DIY troubleshooting steps that you can take to resolve the issue.

If these troubleshooting steps do not help, it may be necessary to consult a professional technician. Selecting a reputable technician is important, and regular maintenance can help prevent such issues from occurring in the future.

Myths about electric furnaces blowing cold air

Before we wrap up, let’s address some common myths about electric furnaces blowing cold air. One myth is that a furnace blows cold air when the outside temperature is too low. However, the outside temperature does not affect the functioning of an electric furnace. Another myth is that a furnace is broken if it blows cold air for a short period of time. This is not necessarily true, as the furnace could simply be going through a defrost cycle.

It is important to understand the root of the issue and take appropriate action to resolve it. By following the DIY troubleshooting steps or seeking professional help, you can ensure that your electric furnace is functioning properly and keeping you warm during the colder months.

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