How to Clean a Furnace Burner in Nine Steps

Do you need help with furnace maintenance? Call JC Heating & Cooling today at 708-367-3199 to schedule a consultation.

how to clean furnace burner

Many components come together to make your furnace work. The burner is, without doubt, one of the most important of the lot.

As such, you need to keep your burner clean at all times to ensure it’s working efficiently at all times. As the premier heating maintenance contractor in Hodgkins, IL, we clean countless furnace burners each year. Below, we share all the details on how to clean furnace burners.

Signs You Should Clean Your Gas Furnace Burner

Below are some of the top signs you should clean your furnace burners:

Visibly Yellow Flame

Can you see yellow flames in your furnace? Then it’s almost certainly time to clean the burner. A furnace burner working efficiently will give off a blue flame.  

The other possible causes of yellow flames in a furnace include dirty flame sensors and combustion problems. The latter scenario is highly dangerous as it often leads to a carbon monoxide leak. So it’s always best to clean the burner and flame sensors first to know if you’re dealing with combustion issues.

Inadequate or No Heating

The burner plays an integral role in the furnace’s heat generation. Therefore, if it’s dirty and can’t work efficiently, you may notice a substantial reduction in heating power.

If the burners are very dirty, the furnace may fail to produce enough heat to activate other components like the blower fan and the heat exchanger. As a result, you won’t have any heat at all.

Higher Utility Bills

When a component is faulty or not pulling its weight fully, the furnace will overcompensate by burning far more energy than necessary to keep you warm. A dirty furnace is a good example of a furnace component not working as well as it should.

Noisy Operation

Do you hear rattling or pops when your furnace is working? It’s one of the most common signs of a dirty burner.

You need to act quickly in this scenario because clogged burners can cause a small explosion upon igniting your furnace. The explosion is enough to damage your heat exchanger.

How to Clean a Furnace Burner

If you want to learn how to clean furnace burners, follow these nine steps:

1. Gather Your Supplies

Some of the things you’ll need for the cleaning process include:

  • A can of compressed air
  • Brass wire brush
  • A wrench or power drill
  • Flexible drill extension

You’ll need the compressed air to remove dust and debris from corners of the burner you can’t reach with your brass brush. The drill, wrench, and drill extension are for removing the screws from the burner box.

2. Turn Off the Power to the Furnace

Don’t attempt to clean your furnace while it’s running. Turn off the gas as well as the power from your circuit breaker.

3. Remove the Panel Doors on the Furnace

Some furnaces have sliding panel doors, while others have screwed-on doors. Inspect yours to determine the best way to remove it carefully. If you’re unsure, dig out the manual for your furnace and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

With the panel doors open, take note of the burner assembly’s arrangement. This is to ensure you don’t make any mistakes when it’s time to couple the assembly after cleaning the burner. If necessary, take a quick picture with your smartphone.

4. Find the Burner Compartment and Open It

Different types of furnaces have different burner compartments. Many manufacturers house the burners in a burner box or underneath a metal casing. Once you find the burner, pay careful attention to the arrangement to avoid any mistakes when putting it back. Taking a picture here is also a great idea.

If you don’t know what the burner looks like, you can go back to your user manual. However, furnace burners have a cylindrical shape that looks like exhaust pipes.

5. Remove the Burner From the Furnace

Using your wrench or power drill, you remove the screws holding the burner. It’s important to be gentle and exercise caution at this stage. Start with the burner closest to the gas valve. Push it gently to release the latch that connects it to the main combustion chamber, and repeat the process for the rest.

Again, you have to be careful with the burner because you can’t repair damaged burners. You’ll need to spend money on a replacement.

6. Clean the Burners

Using the brass brush, clean all buildup on each burner and use the compressed air to clear out carbon deposits in the hollow part of the burner.

You should also blow the debris out of the fins on both sides of the burner. Can you still see carbon deposits? Continue with the cleaning process until there’s none left.

7. Clean the Furnace Flame Sensor

The furnace sensor is that small rod you’ll find behind the last burner. It’s an important component because it helps regulate the flow of gas. Without a functional flame sensor, your furnace may continue emitting gas while there’s no flame.

Use the brass brush or a ball of fine steel wool to clean the sensor.

8. Reinstall the Burner and the Retainer

To achieve this, do the reverse of the decoupling stage by starting with the farthest burner from the gas valve to replace the burners gradually and gently.

9. Test the Furnace

Upon completion of the cleaning process, it’s time to test your furnace to be sure it’s working as it should. Check the flame color when it comes on. If it’s clear and blue, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done! Otherwise, you’ll need to contact an HVAC technician.

Get Help with Your Furnace Burners Today

Do you need further help on how to clean furnace burners? Would you rather have an expert do the job for you? We can help!

Call JC Heating & Cooling today at 708-367-3199 to book an appointment today. You can also trust us to expertly solve problems like an overheating furnace, a damaged flame sensor, and more.