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Igniting a furnace is quite a process for your heating system. Any appliance or engine that burns combustible fuel needs an ignition system to start combustion. Upon inspecting their furnaces, most homeowners expect to find a pilot light. Pilot lights, however, tend to be a thing of the past. Today, furnaces ignite using different technologies collectively known as electronic ignition systems.
You are likely to have one of these three types of ignition methods in your home.
Standing Pilot Ignition
You are likely familiar with this kind of ignition. It’s the small blue flame that is in the front of the furnace burners. Your furnace will have a small round knob with‘ off/on/pilot’ on the gas valve. Despite its simple technology, it is not fuel-efficient. A thermocouple, a tiny heat sensing device, ensures that gas flows to the central furnace burners when the pilot light heats them.
Over time, you may need a heating and AC repair service to replace your thermocouple or have your standing pilot relighted. Standing pilot ignitions are known for their infrequent and easy repairs.
Intermittent Pilot Ignition
Have you bought or had a heating and AC repair service install a furnace recently in your Big Rock, IL home? You will likely have an electronic ignition system with an AFUE rating above 80. An intermittent pilot is one type of electronic ignition. This system utilizes a pilot flat which only lights when there’s an indication of heat from the thermostat.
The electric ignitor is activated by an electronic control board that utilizes high voltage sparks to light the pilot. As a result, the pilot lights the gas for the burners. The burners and pilot turn off once the burn cycle is complete. An intermittent pilot can be easily identified by its heavy gauge wire leading to a metal tip next to the small gas line. The gas line supplies fuel to the pilot flame.
Hot Surface Ignition
Modern furnaces with an electronic ignition mostly have a hot surface igniter (HSI). It looks like a ceramic fork attached to a square plastic base with two wires. The igniter is close to the gas burners, and when the thermostat calls for heat, the fork heats up until it is red hot, then the gas valve opens, and the glowing red fork ignites the gas.
Over time, hot surface igniters burn out and need to be replaced. To know if your hot surface igniter is working properly, take a peek through the louvers of the front cover when you have set the thermostat to light up the furnace. The igniters glow brightly, so something is off if there isn’t any light. Also, if the igniter doesn’t stop glowing at some point, something is wrong with the electronic control board.
Why Were Pilot Lights Discontinued?
Standing pilot lights resulted in a significant amount of wasted gas of about 4-5 therms every month. A therm is a unit measurement of natural gas normally found on your bill. Usually, a therm costs about $1, which means, every month, homeowners would waste about $4-$5, which over ten years amounted to between $480-$600 just to run a standing pilot light.
Standing pilot lights also require a lot of attention and constant check-ups from the heating and AC repair service. If a draft blows on them or the supply line is blocked, it would go out. On the other hand, electronic ignition systems hardly need attention and go for years working efficiently.
Furnace Maintenance Tips
The last thing you need to worry about is a broken furnace during the winter season. Our repair experts have a few tips to ensure your furnace is in top working condition:
Understand Your System
Most furnaces in the US are electric or natural gas, however, there are geothermal, propane, and heat pumps now available. Know the kind of system you have heating your home and learn what needs to be maintained.
Use Your Senses
Take a keen interest in your furnace. It is easy to pass by it every day and not notice anything. Contact a heating and AC repair service immediately if you notice a rotten egg smell. Ensure all tubes are properly fastened and the venting pipe is sitting at the right angle.
Change Your Filter Regularly
This is one of the easiest and most crucial maintenance tips. With clean filters, air can better circulate your furnace effectively, thereby prolonging the life of your system. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations on the frequency of filter changes.
Dust and dirt can affect the performance of your furnace. Regular cleaning of your home is a part of the maintenance. Remember to also clean around the unit. However, leave the cleaning of the inside of your furnace to professional heating and AC repair service.
Furnace Repair Strategies
Due to the complex nature of furnaces and the danger they pose because of the gas, it is advisable to contact a heating and AC repair service whenever your furnace has a problem. When a repair service looks at your malfunctioning furnace, they will first ensure it is flowing correctly to your furnace.
This means they will inspect the gas valves, electrical connections, and thermostat sensors and mechanisms. If your pilot light isn’t working, heating and AC repair service will relight it for you. They will also ensure the flame is well adjusted, and if the electronic ignition mechanism isn’t working, they may need to replace it.
A heating and AC repair service will also check the thermocouple to determine if it needs to be repaired. This may be the case if the ignition system works perfectly, but the burners never come on.
Professional Furnace Maintenance by Professionals
Most of the maintenance tips suggested above are basic, but it’s good to contact our trained repair professionals for an annual inspection and cleaning. At Just In Time, we are the leading heating and AC repair experts in Big Rock, IL. With over a decade’s worth of experience, we will ensure your home is safe and comfortable. Get in touch with us today for more information about our services.