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The Basics of Furnace Transformers and How They Work

Atlanta Heating & Air Solutions Mabelton
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Furnaces are complex systems that contain many different components. While you might be familiar with some of the components in your furnace, a commonly overlooked component is the transformer. If you have an electric furnace, it will probably feature a transformer. Electric furnaces require a transformer to supply a sufficient amount of power to it.

What Is a Furnace Transformer?

A furnace transformer is a component in electric furnaces that’s designed to regulate the voltage. Electric furnaces, of course, run on electricity. And like other electric appliances and systems, they require a specific voltage. Transformers are components that increase or decrease the voltage.

How Furnace Transformers Work

Transformers are located between electric furnaces and the power supply of the homes in which they are installed. Your home’s power supply will consist of alternating current (AC). Unlike with direct current (DC), the voltage of AC power can fluctuate. The transformer’s job is to increase or decrease the voltage so that it matches your furnace’s specifications.

Electricity will travel from your home’s power supply to the transformer. The transformer will then adjust the voltage. It will either increase or decrease the voltage, thus allowing your furnace to run properly.

Signs of a Failing Furnace Transformer

How do you know if your furnace’s transformer needs to be replaced? If the transformer fails, it may cause a range of different problems. A tripped circuit breaker, for instance, may indicate transformer failure.

Transformers can fail by allowing an excessively high voltage to enter your furnace, or they can fail by allowing an excessively low voltage to enter your furnace. In the former scenario, the circuit breaker may trip. A high voltage may cause the circuit breaker in your home to trip. Your furnace may turn on, only for the circuit breaker to trip while subsequently shutting off prematurely.

A failing transformer may prevent your furnace from turning on. Even after raising the temperature on the thermostat, your furnace may not turn on. This typically occurs when the voltage is too low. If the transformer isn’t allowing a high enough voltage to enter your furnace, it may not turn on.

Your furnace’s transformer may have visual signs of failure. Upon failing, for instance, it may have black or brown marks. These marks are typically the result of the transformer overheating due to an excessively high voltage. If your furnace’s transformer has overheated, you’ll need to get it replaced.

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