Warning Signs of a Bad Furnace Ignitor

The Short Answer Is: Warning signs of a bad furnace ignitor include the furnace not starting or heating, a noticeable clicking sound without ignition, or frequent short cycling where the furnace turns on and off rapidly. Additionally, if the ignitor appears cracked or discolored, it may need replacement. Ignitor issues can disrupt the heating process, and addressing them promptly is essential for maintaining a warm and efficient home.

The furnace is an essential component of your home’s HVAC system, which keeps your living space warm and cozy when the temperatures drop. It is especially crucial during the winter months when the cold weather can seep into your home, leaving you shivering and uncomfortable. The furnace ignitor is a crucial part of your heating system that helps it to start and operate efficiently. 

So, when you have a faulty furnace ignitor, this is a major furnace problem. In this blog, Thomas & Galbraith Heating, Cooling & Plumbing will focus on the warning signs of a bad furnace ignitor and how it can cause operations to fail.

What Is a Furnace Ignitor?

One of the crucial components of the furnace is the ignitor. It is a part that produces the heat required to ignite the gas and start the furnace. When your furnace starts, the gas valve opens, gas flows to burners, and the furnace ignitor lights a flame to start the combustion process in the combustion chamber. The heat exchanger then heats the air, then the blower motor starts blowing air through your ducts.

So, when you have a faulty furnace ignitor that is not working correctly, the furnace won't be able to ignite, and the heating system comes to a stop as it won't be able to generate and blow hot air. This sudden stoppage of heat can cause water pipes to freeze or prevent people in the household from staying warm and comfortable during the chilly months.

Types of Furnace Ignitors

When it comes to heating your home or workplace, a furnace must be equipped with an efficient and safe ignition system. The ignitor is a crucial component of a furnace that is responsible for initiating the combustion process. There are a few different types of furnace ignitors used in home heating systems.

Electric Hot Surface Ignitors

A hot surface ignitor is one of the most popular types of ignitors used in newer furnaces. As the name suggests, the hot surface ignitor generates heat through electricity and then transfers the heat to the gas burner assembly through a ceramic medium. This electric ignitor has replaced the conventional pilot light system in most furnaces, which required a constant gas supply to maintain the flame. The hot surface ignitor is more energy-efficient and is an important safety feature, as it eliminates the risk of gas leakage.

Intermittent Pilot Ignitors

The intermittent pilot ignitor system is a combination of the hot surface ignitor and the conventional pilot light system. The intermittent pilot ignitor uses an electronic control module to ignite the flame intermittently when the furnace is in use. The intermittent pilot ignitor is useful for high-efficiency furnaces since the intermittent ignition consumes less gas compared to the continuous flame of a pilot light system.

Standing Pilot Lights

The standing pilot light is the oldest and most common type of ignitor found in furnaces. The standing pilot light system uses a pilot flame that is constant. This standing flame constantly consumes a small amount of gas. The system has become outdated in modern times since it is inefficient and poses safety issues related to gas leakage. Older furnaces often have standing pilot light systems and are mostly found in older homes.

Faulty Furnace Ignitor Warning Signs

A bad ignitor is a significant furnace issue that will lead to a cold house - it requires furnace repair to correct. Here are some warning signs that will help you tell if your furnace ignitor is bad:

The Furnace Won't Start or Has Difficulty Starting

If you have recently observed your furnace taking more time than usual to start or not starting at all, it could be an indication of a bad furnace ignitor. There are chances that the ignitor has stopped working or the furnace ignitor is bad, making it difficult for your furnace to produce heat. Check your circuit breaker to ensure the furnace has power - if the circuit breaker is not tripped, it's possible that you have a bad ignitor.

Strange Sounds

Another warning sign of a bad furnace ignitor is when you hear strange noises coming from your furnace. If you hear loud rumbling or banging sounds, it could be due to a malfunctioning furnace ignitor.

Furnace Blows Cold Air

If you find that your furnace will only blow cold air instead of warm air, it could be because the ignitor or pilot light has gone out. The pilot light is responsible for lighting the gas that heats up the air passing through the furnace, so if it's not working properly, you'll feel cold air blowing from air vents in the home.

If you have a bad ignitor, it may fail to ignite the burners and produce heat. A corroded connection could also be the cause for the furnace to malfunction. Therefore, it’s essential to hire a professional to check and perform heating system repair safely.

Frequent Cycling

When the furnace turns on and off all the time, it is a sign that its controller is malfunctioning. A faulty furnace ignitor can cause the furnace to turn on and off more frequently than usual and the heating cycle won't run as long as it needs to, so you need to get it checked.

A bad ignitor may cause your furnace to perform erratically. You might experience the furnace turning on and off without proper functioning or it might not heat evenly throughout your home. Inconsistent or sporadic functioning can also suggest that there’s a problem with the sensors that interact with the ignitor.

High Utility Bills

A malfunctioning furnace ignitor can also cause an increase in your energy bills. A damaged or bad ignitor will force your heating system to work harder than needed to maintain the desired temperature.

Cracked or Damaged Igniter

One of the main warning signs that your furnace ignitor is bad is a crack or visible damage on the igniter itself. Over time, the ignitor can wear down, crack, or break, causing the furnace to malfunction. A quick way to detect a cracked igniter is by inspecting it for any visible damage or discoloration.

Slow Heating

Faulty or damaged igniters may produce an insufficient amount of heat, making it difficult for your furnace to warm up your home. No matter how long you set the thermostat, your home remains cold if the furnace can't create hot air from the ignitor.

Tipped Furnace Breaker

A tripped furnace breaker can often be a sign of a faulty furnace ignitor. If the ignitor is not functioning properly, it can cause the furnace to struggle to start up, leading to a power surge that can trip the breaker. Moreover, a malfunctioning ignitor can also result in inconsistent heating or a complete shutdown of the furnace. Therefore, if you notice that your furnace is repeatedly tripping the breaker, it is essential to get your furnace checked by a professional HVAC technician.

Furnace Repair for a Faulty Ignitor

At Thomas & Galbraith, our team of highly skilled heating technicians has the necessary expertise to diagnose and fix faulty furnace ignitors efficiently.

To begin the diagnostic process, our technicians will first examine the ignitor's wiring. If any wires are loose or disconnected, our technicians will reattach them and test the system to ensure everything is functioning correctly.

Next, our technicians will inspect the ignitor itself for any signs of damage or wear. If the old ignitor is cracked, broken, or shows other signs of damage, it will need to be replaced. Our technicians carry a wide range of new ignitor parts and can quickly replace the faulty component and get your heating system running smoothly once again.

In some cases, the issue may not be with the ignitor itself, but with other components of the heating system. Our technicians will examine the system's control board or gas valve to ensure they are functioning correctly. If our technicians determine that the issue lies with another component of the heating system, they will recommend the necessary repairs or replacements.

Professional Ignitor Repair Services

At Thomas & Galbraith, we take pride in our attention to detail and commitment to providing high-quality furnace services. Our technicians are trained to diagnose and fix any issue with your heating system's faulty ignitor, and we take every measure to ensure your system is functioning correctly before completing the job.

If you are experiencing issues with your heating system, don't hesitate to contact Thomas & Galbraith for ignitor repair or replacement. Our team of experienced heating technicians is available 24/7 to diagnose and repair all your heating needs.

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