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Repair Your Smoking Electric Furnace Before It Causes A Fire In Your Home

If you notice smoke waffling through your air vents or around your electric furnace whenever you turn the appliance on, repair it now to prevent a fire in your home. Smoke indicates a number of issues with your furnace, including an overheating blower motor. If the blower motor is soiled or doesn’t have enough oil to lubricate it, it can overheat as it pushes cool air through the furnace. Sometimes, faulty wiring causes the furnace to smoke. You can check the furnace for faulty wiring and repair your overheating blower motor yourself. Here’s what you do.

Check for Faulty Wiring in the Furnace

Before you do anything to the blower motor, check the furnace for faulty wiring. You want to eliminate this potentially dangerous problem right away. A number of homeowners face fires each year because of malfunctioning furnaces. One of the biggest causes of furnace fires is faulty wiring. Checking your furnace to see if faulty wiring is the cause of your furnace’s smoke problem is essential. 

Here’s how you do it:

  • Disconnect power to your furnace immediately at the main circuit breaker in the home.
  • Use your furnace’s owner’s manual to find the location of the unit’s circuit breaker. If you don’t have a manual, remove the side paneling from the furnace to locate the breaker. The breaker will look similar to your home’s main circuit breaker.
  • Check the breaker’s colored wiring for frays, tears and discolorations. Don’t touch the wires, because they can be hot if they do have a problem.

If the wires appear charred or burnt, stop and contact a furnace repair technician to fix the appliance. The area around the wiring will also appear sooty and black. The smoke most likely originated from the bad wiring. You don’t want to operate the furnace in this condition.  

If the wires don’t appear discolored or damaged, you can move to the next step and repair the blower motor.

Clean the Blower Motor

Cleaning the blower removes contaminants that cause fires and smoke, such as dirt and dust. If your basement is very dusty in the summer and spring, the blower motor will pull in these contaminants when you turn on the furnace in the winter.

To clean the blower motor, you need a small hand broom and rag. You can also use a vacuum hose to remove debris from the very back of the motor. Once you have the cleaning tools, make sure that the furnace is still off at the circuit breaker, then follow the tips below:

  1. Pull the blower motor about an inch out of the furnace. Don’t remove it completely, because the blower motor connects to the air handler with wires that can break or come loose when pulled or tugged.
  2. Use your broom to carefully brush away debris. Avoid touching any wires attached to the blower motor. 
  3. Vacuum the back of the blower motor’s housing. If you find stubborn areas of dust and dirt, attach a brush to the vacuum’s hose, then gently scrub the debris until the hose sucks it up.
  4. Place the vacuum over the front of the blower motor, then turn the vacuum on high. You want to suck out as much debris as you can from the small openings in the motor.
  5. Use your rag to clean the outside surface of the blower motor. Don’t wet the rag with water or liquid cleaner. Any type of liquid can rust the part over time.
  6. Place a few drops of oil into the tiny ports that line the front surface of the blower motor. You don’t want to overfill the ports, or the oil will drip out later and smoke when the furnace gets hot.
  7. Push the blower motor back in place, replace the paneling over the blower and turn back on the furnace’s power.

Wait one hour to see if the furnace smokes again. If the furnace doesn’t smoke, or if you don’t notice smoke coming from your air vents, you solved your problem.

If smoke is still present in the home or furnace after one hour, turn off the furnace and call a technician immediately. The technician should be able to offer you more information on what the problem is.