Nothing lasts forever--but with the right maintenance, your electric furnace can last for several decades. If you want to extend your furnace's life, you should know where the most likely points of failure are, then repair or replace those components before they cause an outage. With electric furnaces, most failures are due to an electrical problem, but that doesn't mean the electric components are the only things you need to watch out for.
Moving parts are the bane of most household appliances, especially large ones like your furnace. Of critical importance in this case is the fan and its motor, as without the fan your furnace will do little more than heat itself and not your home. While your fan can be replaced, it's better to avoid the hassle by keeping it functional for as long as possible.
Watch for signs that your fan motor is working harder than normal, such as excess noise or excess heat. These problems usually result from drag on the drive rod that supports the fan blades. If the blades of the fan become coated in dust or debris, this can also push your fan out of balance, which results in excess drag on the motor that may cripple your furnace. Cleaning out the area around your fan and its motor will help prevent premature breakdowns and keep the furnace running.
By far the most common type of failure in an electric furnace, electrical failures can range from faulty wiring to corrosion, or they may simply mean a damaged heating element. If one of your electrical components fails, begin your investigation into the problem by shutting off the breaker, both at your electrical box and on the furnace itself.
With time, any wiring will become worn, and the humid air in moist climates can compound that problem. Look over the wiring for signs of wear or discoloration, such as from exposure to heat or moisture. You should look for similar problems on your furnace's heating element, but in this case signs of discoloration are often an early warning that the element itself is close to shorting out or fracturing and should be replaced.
You can probably handle simple cleanings and replacements on your own, but any component should be replaced by a professional. This will ensure that the new part is compatible with the old furnace and functions correctly. If you need any help with your electric furnace, get in touch with HVAC professionals at a company like Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning, LLC.