If you have a newer gas furnace, then it is very likely that you have a heating system with an electric starter. This means that a standing pilot is not necessary to keep the furnace running. Electric starters come in a few different styles, the most common of which is the hot surface gas igniter. The starters are reliable, durable, and they function well with very few problems. However, the igniters may not always work as well as they should. Sometimes this is due to a mistake that you have inadvertently made. Keep reading to learn about some of these mistakes and how you can rectify them.
Touching the Igniter
Most hot surface gas igniters are made with thin and delicate filaments that heat up quickly. The filament then heats the natural gas moving into the burner. Most filaments are made from ceramic and a wire sits in the middle of the ceramic, which helps to create heat with the assistance of an electrical current. While the filament can work well, even when it becomes a bit dirty, certain types of debris can stop the filament from working correctly. This is true of the oils from your skin. If you touched the filament with your bare hands, for example, then the oil will remain in the ceramic and the device will not work correctly.
You can use a can of compressed air to release loose debris. If oils remain, you will need to replace the igniter. Thankfully, the igniter is relatively inexpensive and can be plugged directly into the electrical input once you release the old igniter. When you go to secure the new igniter, just make sure that you do not touch the filament. Wearing a pair of vinyl gloves during the installation can help with this.
Failing to Replace the Air Filter
If your furnace is extremely dirty and the air filter is clogged, then the igniter may be shut-off in response to an overheating issue. In other words, the safety switch of the unit will keep the igniter from creating a dangerous situation.
Dirty air filters stop air flow from moving through the system properly. This can cause a lot of heat to build up in the housing of the gas furnace itself. The result is an extremely hot furnace and very little heat moving into your house. You may notice this problem as temperatures drop in your home. Change the filter immediately if you notice this. Also, use a can of compressed air to lightly blow off the igniter. Once the filter has been replaced, the safety switch will likely stop tripping and you can enjoy a normal level of heat.
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