Identifying the Signs of a Bad Furnace Ignitor

bad furnace ignitor

When customers call us because they suddenly don’t have heat in their homes, it’s often because of a bad furnace ignitor. Furnace ignitors replace the pilot light on modern gas furnaces and create the heat or spark to light the gas and produce heat. 

Because the typical furnace ignitor only lasts about seven years with normal use and maintenance, it’s common for them to fail. In most cases, you can replace the ignitor without replacing the entire furnace. At JC Heating & Cooling, Inc., we receive many calls about problems with furnace ignitors, so we have put together a list of the most common signs of this issue so you know when to call us for fast repairs.

JC Heating & Cooling, Inc. is the preferred choice for heating repair services in Hodgkins, IL. Our team of highly trained and experienced technicians can quickly identify and fix furnace malfunctions. If you suspect a failing ignitor or have any other issue with your heating system, call us at 708-968-3131 for emergency service. We will get your furnace back up and running and heating your home in no time. 

How a Furnace Ignitor Works 

As we mentioned, the furnace ignitor starts the combustion process inside the furnace, creating heat to blow through the ducts and warm your home. The most common type of ignitor creates a spark when the thermostat triggers the furnace to come on. The ignitor energizes the gas valve and triggers the pressure switch to release gas, which then creates the heat-producing flame. 

Some ignitors create heat instead of a spark. When the gas valve releases the fuel, the heat ignites the flame.

The Most Obvious Signs that the Furnace Ignitor Is Bad

There’s a good chance that the furnace ignitor is failing when any of the following occurs:

1. The Furnace Won’t Turn On 

If your furnace doesn’t turn on at all, the ignitor could be the issue. When it lights, the ignitor produces a glowing flame; if you don’t see a flame, then a bad furnace ignitor is most likely preventing the heat from coming on.

2. The Furnace Blows Cold Air 

If you can hear the heater running, but it’s not producing any heat, the ignitor did not start the combustion process to produce heat. Double-check that you’ve set the thermostat to heat and the temperature setting is high enough to produce warm air. If both settings are correct, the ignitor needs attention. 

3. The Furnace Does Not Stay On

One of the safety features of your furnace is the ability to short-cycle. When the furnace detects a safety issue, it will turn on, off for up to 60 seconds, then turn on again. A bad ignitor can trigger short cycling, which will prevent the furnace from producing heat.

4. The Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping

If the furnace trips the circuit breaker as soon as it starts producing heat — and this happens repeatedly — a failed furnace ignitor could be the culprit. Avoid allowing the furnace to repeatedly trip the breaker switch, which can result in severe electrical problems for the furnace and damage your home’s electrical system.  

5. The Furnace Makes a Clicking Noise 

When the ignitor comes on, it makes a clicking sound. However, if you hear the click and the furnace does not turn on, there is a potentially dangerous ignitor issue that requires immediate repair. 

Why Furnace Ignitors Fail

Furnace ignitors can go bad for many reasons. Some of the most common include:

  • Flame sensor problems
  • Age and wear and tear
  • Electrical problems
  • Power surges
  • Bad limiter switch 
  • Installing the wrong part
  • Poor furnace maintenance

Regardless of why the furnace ignitor isn’t working, ignoring the problem could be dangerous to your home and family. Call a professional to diagnose the issue and replace the part as soon as possible to restore heat and keep your family safe.

Call JC Heating & Cooling, Inc. to Diagnose and Repair Furnace Issues

Any time you have a problem with your heating system, whether it does not turn on or the furnace is still running when turned off, call JC Heating & Cooling, Inc. to solve it. As the number one heating and air conditioning company in Hodgkins, IL, we provide reliable, efficient, and affordable service for local homeowners. From fixing bad furnace ignitors to complete heating system replacements, we have the perfect solution to your heating woes. Call us at 708-968-3131 or schedule an appointment online today.