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How Do You Know When Your Furnace Ignitor is Bad?

There are a few components in your heating system that are easy to replace and are not too difficult to master.  Changing out furnace filters in spring and fall is one of them. 

When it comes to furnace ignitors, however, this fairly dangerous and complicated bit of machinery is not a do it yourself project. 

First of all, it might be best to go over what a furnace ignitor is and does.  The furnace ignitor lights your furnace’s burner.  If your furnace is 10-20 years old or more, you probably still have a pilot light.  The pilot light ignited the fuel released by the burners.  This began the heating process.  The pilot light was always lit, and therefore consumed fuel 24/7.

In newer furnaces, the pilot light has been replaced by a furnace ignitor.  The hot surface ignitor is made from silicon or carbide which heats up much like the coils in a toaster.  This heat creates the sparking process that lights the fuel as it enters the burners.  The burner fuel is ignited by this hot surface ignitor which can reach temperatures over 1800° F. 

The furnace ignitor can be easily damaged from improper handling.  You should never touch the ignitor as skin oils are one of the main reasons an ignitor can fail.  An ignitor’s useful life is from three to five years – more if taken care of properly be a qualified heating technician, less if improperly installed or handled.  Fortunately, they are not expensive parts to replace.  Our trained technicians can replace them fairly quickly during routine furnace service appointments.

A dirty air filter is another cause for ignitor failure.  When filters get dirty, the limit switch on the furnace cycles on and off repeatedly and causes substantial wear on the ignitor.

If your ignitor has gone bad, you will not be able to start your furnace.  You may also notice that the circuit breaker for your furnace keeps tripping. 

Replacing a bad furnace ignitor is a common repair we do every week.  For your safety and for the safety of your family and your home, give us a call to replace your faulty ignitor.  Having a professional service your furnace will ensure that the job is done right with the correct parts for your particular model furnace.