Once upon a time, the way gas furnaces ignited their burners was with a standing pilot light. You’re probably familiar with at least a few of these older furnace models since they have a long history. A small gas flame stays lit throughout the winter and, when natural gas flows to the burners, this flame is responsible for igniting the jets to start the heating cycle.
Today, electronic ignition systems have replaced the pilot lights. An electric ignition gas furnace is more energy efficient since it doesn’t have to use gas throughout the winter just to keep the pilot light on. This type of ignition is also more reliable: no more worrying about the pilot light going out.
However, electric ignition gas furnaces can still run into issues, and you may require furnace repair in Burlington, VT to get yours back to work. We’re going to look closer at these ignition systems and provide helpful facts about them.
There Are Two Types of Electric Ignition Furnaces
Not all electronic ignition systems work the same. There are two basic types:
- Intermittent pilot: This system does use a pilot light, but it only lights the pilot long enough for it to ignite the burners. When there’s a request for heat, the gas to the pilot turns on and an electric spark ignites it, and it then shuts off when the burners are lit.
- Hot surface ignition: The igniter works similar to the filaments in a lightbulb. The electric current turns the metal surface of the igniter hot enough that it causes the gas jets to combust.
If you want to know what type of igniter your furnace has, check its manual or look up the model on the manufacturer’s website. (Please don’t try to look into the furnace to figure it out. We don’t recommend poking around in a gas furnace for any reason.)
Electronic Ignition System Problems
Here’s one of the most important facts to know about an electronic ignition system: It’s a temporary component that is not designed to last for the full life of the furnace. Gas furnaces can run from 15 to 20 years, sometimes more. Do you know any lightbulbs that can go that long? No, they’ll burn out before then. You can expect at some point to need the ignition system replaced, and fortunately, this is a basic repair for our technicians.
There are other problems ignition systems can run into aside from age. A power surge in your house may cause the igniter to burn out. The igniter may start to turn off early because of a problem with the temperature sensor. A tripped circuit breaker can cause the igniter to fail. In the case of an amateur repair (please, only call licensed professionals), an igniter with the incorrect voltage may have been put in, and this will fail soon.
Get in touch with us when you have problems getting your electric ignition furnace running. We’ll see the problem is fixed fast and correctly.
Red Rock Mechanical, LLC serves Northwest Vermont and Northeast New York. Call us for 24-hour emergency service for your furnace or any other heating system.