Nov 02

How To Tell If An Ignitor On A Gas Furnace Is Working

image of furnace with furnace ignitor problems

A common repair with a gas furnace is when the gas furnace ignitor not working. When you recognize that the ignitor of your gas furnace is starting to malfunction, you can avoid a lot of stress. You can also decide if you can deal with the problem on your own or if you need to call in a skilled HVAC professional.

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How To Recognize When Your Gas Furnace Ignitor Is Not Functioning Properly

The workings of the ignitor of a gas furnace are not common knowledge. This article offers an explanation of how to recognize furnace ignitor troubles. Furthermore, this article shares pointers for recognizing when it is time to rely on a professional HVAC technician.

Ignition Systems On Gas Furnaces

furnace burner

Older furnaces relied on pilot lights to ignite the gas that burned to warm your home. The pilot light was always lit. When it was time for the furnace to start a heat cycle, valves opened and released and exposed gas to the pilot light. It ignited, burned, and brought heat to the home. Unfortunately, everything relied on the pilot light. If the pilot light went out, there was no way to ignite the gas coming through the valves. Consequently, the home would have no heat.

Today’s furnaces rely on electronic ignitors. These systems can be divided into two groups: pilot systems that are intermittent or ignition systems that rely on a hot surface.

A spark in the intermittent pilot system turns on the pilot light, as opposed to the old pilot light that burned continually. There is a sensor connected to the gas valves that can detect when the pilot is lit. When detected, the valves open, the burner is lit, and heat is produced. The hot surface system ignition sends electricity to the area of the burners. Once the electricity has heated up the area to a specified temperature, the gas is released to the burner and lit.

One advantage of these newer systems is that the pilot light is turned off after the furnace is running. Not having a pilot that is continually lit means more efficient operation.

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Failure Of The Furnace’s Electronic Ignition

image of a man adjusting thermostat due to broken furnace
If the electronic ignition doesn’t light, the burners cannot light, and there is no heat. Electronic ignition failure in a gas furnace means a furnace that cannot do its job.

A problem that is similar is the delayed ignition. If you hear a bang before the ignition, you can be pretty sure that you are dealing with delayed ignition. However, a delayed ignition carries a danger. Gases can accumulate if the ignitor fails repeatedly. This calls for immediate professional help from your HVAC company.

In either scenario, the end result is the same- no heat.

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Reasons For Furnace Ignitor Failure

Some of the more commonly encountered reasons for furnace ignitor failure include:

A Furnace Ignitor That Is Damaged

image of an hvac contractor performing furnace repair

An ignitor will not last the life of your furnace. They wear out and/or become damaged. A certified HVAC technician can determine the condition of the gas furnace ignitor and know if it needs a replacement. To determine this, the professional must remove the panel to access the ignitor and assess the amount of damage. This process includes removing the wires to the ignitor and using a tool called a multimeter to test it.

Incorrect Ignitor Installed In The Furnace

Common sense dictates that ignition failure is an expected result of an ignitor that has the wrong voltage for the job at hand.

A Malfunctioning Limit Switch On The Furnace

All furnaces have a limit switch. This switch keeps the temperatures from reaching an unsafe level. A filter clogged with dirt may make the switch think temperatures are getting too high. Consequently, it may turn the ignitor off before it should. There are also various mechanical issues that can inhibit the ignitor.

Power Surges

Power surges can burn out the furnace ignitor. This is most likely to happen with the filaments that carry the warming electricity in the hot surface ignitor.

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Tips For Troubleshooting The Electronic Ignitor On Your Furnace

turning on breaker box after furnace blows fuse

A little basic knowledge can help a homeowner with furnace troubleshooting. It will give you an idea of what the problem could be and help you communicate more effectively with a professional. Here are some basic troubleshooting ideas:

Check The Source Of Power

Check out the power source and determine if the circuit breaker has been tripped. It could be that simple.

Reset The Furnace Ignitor

Before attempting to reset the ignitor, make sure the power source for it has been turned off by flipping the circuit switch. Find the burner door on the furnace and look behind it to find the ignitor. Turn it to “OFF” and wait for five minutes. After you wait, turn it back on and return the door to the burner. It is important to make sure the switch on the door is properly engaged. By flipping the circuit switch back on, you will reconnect to the power source, and hopefully, the furnace will work properly.

Get In Touch With A Professional HVAC Company

It is tempting to try and save a few dollars with a DIY home furnace repair. However, when it comes to HVAC repairs, resist the urge. An untrained repair can cause costly damage, can postpone the comfort of a home, can add to stress levels, and even cause a threat to the health of loved ones.

There are many unknowns in furnace repair. Consider the furnace ignitor. Replacing an old ignitor may seem relatively easy, but there are details the amateur is not aware of. Even tasks that seem simple require a level of expertise. Naturally, enough basic knowledge of your furnace’s functioning will allow you to communicate effectively with your local HVAC company. It is good to arm yourself with a little information.

Allow a skilled technician, trained in HVAC repair, to set your mind at ease. Contact your local HVAC professionals for timely and quality furnace repair.

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Call Skylands Energy Service For All Of Your Furnace Repair Requirements

image of skylands energy service logoWhen looking for an excellent HVAC system repair company, do not hesitate to contact Skylands Energy Service. We will be happy to assist you. We provide free, no-obligation, in-home consultations.

Skylands Energy Service hires only the best licensed and certified HVAC technicians. Our services include HVAC maintenance, installations, repairs, and replacements. Rest assured that we can fix your HVAC system correctly and on time. All our heating and cooling services are affordable. When you need to replace your current system, we can help you find the best one that suits your needs and budget. Schedule an appointment by calling us today.

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