An electric fireplace is efficiently and effectively utilitarian while also being enticingly aesthetic. However, electric fireplaces can have a few teething issues at times, like the insert blowing cold air and not heat. So, here are the typical reasons why your electric fireplace is blowing cold air.
Your electric fireplace is blowing cold air due to a low thermostat or heat setting, the unit running on fan mode, or turned off flame effect. Else, you may have an activated thermal cut-out switch, a failing heater and blower assembly, faulty control board, or broken heating element.
Some electric fireplaces may have multiple problems, but most are likely to have only one main issue. Thus, you need to investigate the various causal factors I explain in this article, beginning with the simplest problems. Read on to know why your electric fireplace is blowing cold air.
9 Reasons Why Your Electric Fireplace Is Blowing Cold Air
All electric fireplaces have similar components as the fundamental concept is identical. But the parts on and in these fireplace inserts may not be in the same locations. So, you should refer to the owner’s manual to access and inspect the essential parts.
1. The Thermostat Setting Is Lower Than Room Temperature
An electric fireplace will blow cold air if the thermostat setting is lower than the ambient or room temperature.
In all likelihood, you will toggle the heat settings if your electric fireplace is blowing cold air. So, do that but also increase the temperature further than you need to see if the air blowing out of the vent gets warmer in due course. Some electric fireplaces take a while to blow warm air.
Most modern fireplaces don’t power the heating element as soon as you turn on the unit, be it through the remote or using the buttons on the front panel. You will probably notice that the fan or blower motor starts first. At this stage, the electric fireplace will blow cold air, which is normal.
Usually, an electric fireplace should start blowing warm air in a minute or less. However, it is unlikely to happen if the heat setting is too close to the ambient temperature. Increase the setting to high heat and test the remote plus the control panel on the unit.
A faulty remote may not call for heat when you set the thermostat to a specific degree. Also, the unit’s remote control sensor may not detect the signal due to obstructions or directional issues. So, accessing the control panel and directly toggling the settings is a more reassuring approach.
2. The Electric Fireplace Is in Fan Mode, Not on Heat
As you test the remote and control panel on the electric fireplace, check if you have the unit set to its fan mode. Most fireplace inserts these days have a fan mode that doesn’t turn on the heat. So, the unit’s fan will continue to operate and blow cold air without the heating element working.
Like the thermostat setting issue, this problem isn’t really a concern. Change the fan mode to auto or heat, subject to the option on your electric fireplace. Simultaneously, check the heat setting or temperature on the control panel or remote. You should select a high heat setting.
An electric fireplace fan should be on auto or heat mode, and the thermostat setting must be a few degrees higher than the indoor temperature. Only then can you eliminate these first two probable issues as the causal factors behind your electric fireplace blowing cold air.
3. The Flame Effect of the Electric Fireplace Is Turned Off
Like the thermostat setting and fan mode, the flame effect in your electric fireplace can regulate the heating element.
Almost all contemporary electric fireplaces have a flame effect. However, not all models use the flame effect as a precondition to turning on the heating element. Thus, you need to check the manual to see if the flame effect is a prerequisite for the heater to start working.
Many electric fireplaces won’t start the heating element unless you turn on the flame effect. This flame effect doesn’t have to be at its brightest setting. You can set the feature to low, but it must be on. Also, knowingly or inadvertently turning off the flame effect will shut the heating element.
The flame effect doesn’t regulate the fan mode or blower function in such electric fireplaces. So, the fan will continue to work, and you may think that the heating element is working but it’s essentially blowing cold air. Turn the flame effect on and wait for a few moments to check if you get warm air.
4. The Thermal Cut-Out or Overload Switch Is Activated
All heating appliances have a high temperature limit switch, which is a safety feature.
An electric fireplace may have a thermal cut-out, temperature limit, or overload switch. Brands use different terms for this function, including temperature limiting control.
The thermal cut-out or overload switch remains inactive while you operate the electric fireplace. However, overheating triggers this switch, which then disrupts the electric circuit of the unit. So, the heating element stops working, but the fan or blower motor continues to run.
Most electric fireplaces start the blower fan before the heating element comes on. Also, the fan runs after the heating element stops or is turned off so that the electric fireplace can cool. Thus, your fireplace insert can blow cold air if the thermal switch turns off the heating element.
These thermal cut-out switches can be reset. Your electric fireplace may have a manual or auto reset feature. Check the instruction booklet to confirm and follow the steps to solve the problem. Don’t try to turn on the electric fireplace or toggle the settings without resetting the unit.
Generally, unplugging an electric fireplace and allowing it to cool for some time can reset the thermal or high limit switch. Some units may take up to half an hour, whereas others might need less than fifteen minutes. If there are additional steps to take, your owner’s manual should have them.
5. The Heater and Blower Assembly Has Wiring Problems
Generally, electric fireplaces have only one external cable or wire, which is the power cord. All the other wires are inside the unit. So, wiring problems aren’t typical unless the wires are frayed, loose, or damaged due to overheating, power surges, and other such issues.
Also, the wire harnesses inside the unit are unlikely to be loose if the fireplace insert hasn’t been opened, mishandled, or damaged. That said, an electric fireplace will blow cold air if the heating element doesn’t work due to frayed, loose, or broken wires.
Many electric fireplaces have an integrated heater and blower assembly. You will probably find a set of two wires for the blower motor and another pair for the heating element. Locating the wires and checking them isn’t as much of a challenge as disassembling the entire fireplace insert.
You’ll have to remove all the front panels and grilles before you can take the electric fireplace off the wall and hearth. Refer to the manual if you aren’t sure about the notches and screws on the unit. The heater and blower assembly should be easily accessible as you remove the housing.
Frayed or loose wires don’t always prevent a heating and blower fan assembly from turning on. Sometimes, the blower motor may run intermittently. Likewise, the heater or heating element in your electric fireplace may work intermittently if the power supply or electric current is disrupted.
Therefore, replacing old or damaged wires is the only solution. If the wires are alright, you may have a problem with the heater and blower assembly.
6. The Blower Fan Motor Is Failing or Broken
Most electric fireplaces have the heater or heating element placed at the front, either at the bottom or the top. This part typically has a fan. However, the exact location of this assembly depends on the model. Also, the design of the heater and blower assembly varies.
All the differences aside, the heater or heating element won’t function if the blower fan motor is failing or broken. The fan doesn’t only blow warm air out through the vent, it also prevents the electric fireplace from overheating. So, if this motor fails, the heating element won’t work.
As such, you need to check if the blower fan motor is working. Usually, this problem is evident as you turn on your electric fireplace – you won’t hear the fan spinning. However, in some cases, the fan may work intermittently or erratically. Hence, you have to check the motor.
In some electric fireplaces, you can take apart a failing or broken motor and replace it. But a few models might not have a detachable motor. So, you need to change the entire blower assembly. You can watch this video to learn how to replace an electric fireplace fan motor:
7. The Electric Fireplace Heating Element Is Worn Out
Suppose all the issues I have discussed until now are not causing your electric fireplace to blow cold air. In that case, you have to suspect the heating element. However, you must rule out the other probable causes before you conclude the heating element is worn out or damaged.
You cannot repair the heating element. Therefore, you need to replace the quintessential component. If you have a heater and blower assembly, the entire part needs to be replaced. Not every electric fireplace has a removable or detachable motor, fan, and heating element.
Most electric fireplaces have a heating element that uses resistance to convert electricity into thermal energy or heat. This resistance can wane in due course. Still, check the wires, fan or blower, motor, and other parts before concluding whether or not the heating element is worn out.
8. The Electric Fireplace Control Board Is Failing or Damaged
Like the heating element, an electric fireplace control board can fail or malfunction. Also, it is not necessary for a control board to go off completely. If the connection to the heating element is disrupted, the control board won’t be able to turn on the heat, and the unit will blow cold air.
The electric fireplace fan might function, the flame effect may work fine, and you may even have everything else responding alright, such as the timer. However, the heater or heating element may not get the necessary power. Thus, your electric fireplace will blow cold air.
Before you conclude whether or not the control board is failing or defective, you must check the wires connected to the module. More importantly, inspect the wires connecting the control board to the heater. Since your fireplace insert is blowing cold air, the heater’s connection matters more.
9. An Electric Fireplace Setting Is Turning Off the Heat
Last but not least, a few settings of an electric fireplace may turn off the heat. I have already discussed the thermostat or heat setting, fan mode, etc. In addition, you need to verify if the thermal cut-out switch is activated, in which case you must reset the electric fireplace.
Also, your electric fireplace may have an option or more that could cause the unit to blow cold air. One relevant example in this context is the open window warning. Some models have a feature that can detect a sharp drop in temperature, usually around ten degrees.
This open window warning isn’t a safety feature per se. Rather, the objective is energy efficiency. So, if your electric fireplace detects a significant temperature drop, it will presume that a window or another opening is allowing a burst of cold air to flow in. Thus, the appliance will shut down.
Your electric fireplace may switch from high heat to low heat. Or, the model may stop completely if the thermostat is set to low heat. Hence, you need to check the manual for such a feature and close any open window, door, etc.
Whenever features like the open window warning are at play, electric fireplaces tend to make a sound or beep to alert you before shutting down or switching to a lower heat setting. However, you may not hear this beep. And the electric fireplace will appear to be blowing cold air.
Whenever your electric fireplace blows cold air, review all the settings and ensure that the unit is in heat mode and no feature interrupts that cycle. Then, check the various parts I have discussed here, starting with the simplest issues. If a key component is failing, you will have to replace that part.