Because natural gas doesn’t possess any latent heat, gas furnaces use an ignition system to combust the gas and generate heat for your home. Your furnace ignitor is an important component that ensures gas furnaces work safely and efficiently. If the ignitor is damaged or malfunctioning, your furnace may function poorly or in some cases not at all. How do you tell if your furnace ignitor is faulty?
Figuring out the problem depends on the model of furnace ignitor you have. While old furnaces may have a standing pilot light, electronic ignitors are the most likely type for modern gas furnaces. We’ll compare the differences in each type as well as how a faulty ignitor impacts your furnace and what components can stop the ignitor from working.
Your furnace ignitor is a key component in the heating cycle. It provides the heat required to combust the furnace’s natural gas supply. This heat is sent into the HVAC system’s air handler before moving into your ductwork. Without the furnace ignitor, your heating may as well be an expensive fan.
Older furnaces used to have a standing pilot light to keep the gas lit. This small flame would remain lit even between heating cycles. Modern furnaces have moved on to an electronic ignition system, and these ignitors are safer and more energy efficient. The two most popular types of electronic furnace ignitor are:
Your furnace likely has one of these electronic ignitors. Since they’re kept inside the furnace, damage or component failure isn’t always clear. Instead, the furnace may stop running like it does normally. This is often the initial sign you have a faulty furnace ignitor.
A faulty furnace ignitor can disrupt normal operation in multiple ways. These range from preventing the furnace from running entirely to constant cycles of starting and stopping. Have you noticed your furnace malfunctioning in any of the following ways?
The furnace won’t start: Combusting natural gas can be hazardous, especially if a component of the furnace isn’t operating properly. When the ignitor is malfunctioning, safety features will keep the furnace from running entirely to prevent further damage or new problems.
The furnace blows cool air: Unheated air coming through your ductwork is a surefire sign something is malfunctioning. The furnace might not recognize that the ignitor is malfunctioning and other components like the air handler will function as normal.
The furnace is short cycling: This frustrating problem means the furnace’s heating cycles are too short or repetitive. Not only will it be inadequate for heating your home, but it puts extra strain on the furnace itself. Short cycling can happen when the furnace ignitor flips on and off, which activates the safety features and shuts the furnace off.
In other cases, the ignitor won’t work because another component of your furnace is malfunctioning. When making a furnace repair call, professional technicians in the U.S. might review the following components as well:
Calling a professional technician for furnace repair in the U.S. is the fastest way to solve a problem with the furnace ignitor. They’ll have the tools and training to narrow down possible causes and can start with the most common culprits. Over the course of diagnostics, the technician may try several things, including:
Costs can vary depending on the model of both the furnace and the electronic ignitor. With parts and labor, homeowners could expect to spend around $100 to $350 on replacement costs. The average life span of the furnace ignitor is seven7 years, so in some cases the problem is a result of the ignitor simply becoming too old to function properly. Whatever the problem is, a certified technician can find the source and offer the most cost-effective solutions.
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