How To Tell If Your Gas Furnace Ignitor Is Not Working

image of a gas igniterAn electronic ignition failure is one of the most common problems you can encounter with a gas furnace. Knowing how to spot when your gas furnace ignitor is not working can go a long way. This way, you will be able to determine if the problem is something simple or if you need the help of a professional HVAC contractor.

How To Tell If Your Gas Furnace Ignitor Is Not Working

In this article, we discuss the best ways to troubleshoot a gas furnace ignitor. Also, we will cover when you should use the help of a professional HVAC technician.

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Types Of Furnace Ignition Systems

In the past, furnaces came with pilot lights that stayed on when the furnace was on. With this type of system, the gas valves to the burners opened up to ignite the combustion gas. If the pilot light failed, the heater wouldn’t turn on.

Modern furnaces come with electronic ignition systems. These are either intermittent pilot systems or hot surface ignition systems.

The intermittent pilot system uses an electric spark to turn the pilot light on. Once the sensor detects that the pilot light is lit, it opens the valve to the burners, and the pilot light ignites the burners. For a hot surface ignition system, electricity flows to the area. Once the ignition system reaches a set temperature, gas flows to the burner and lights up the ignitor.

Both of these systems turn off the pilot light once the furnace is on, making it a more energy-efficient system than older furnaces.

What Is Electronic Ignition Gas Furnace Failure?

furnace repair serviceAn electronic gas furnace ignition failure occurs when the electronic ignition fails and therefore does not ignite the burners.

When this happens, the furnace doesn’t produce any heat. A related problem is delayed ignition. You know you are getting delayed ignition if you hear a loud bang before ignition occurs.

In this case, gases tend to accumulate if you turn on the ignitor multiple times in succession. This could create a potentially serious safety problem and needs to be examined by a furnace expert immediately.

Common Causes For A Gas Furnace Ignitor To Stop Working

Below, we will discuss some common causes for ignitor issues.

Damaged Ignitor

Ignitors can be damaged or become worn down. Old ignitors need to be replaced because they don’t last as long as the furnace itself. Your HVAC technician knows how to tell if the furnace ignitor has worn out and needs a replacement. This usually involves removing the furnace service panel to inspect for damage, removing ignitor wires, and testing the ignitor with a multimeter.

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Wrong Ignitor For Furnace

A wrong ignitor with an incorrect voltage can lead to ignition failure.

High-Temperature Limit Switch

Furnaces come with a limit switch that prevents temperatures from becoming too hot. Clogged air filters can cause the switch to turn the ignitor off early. Mechanical problems with the limit switch itself can also prevent the ignitor from turning on.

Power Surges

Power surges can damage the electric ignitor, causing it to burn out. This is particularly common for hot surface ignitors that use burning filaments.

Furnace Ignitor Troubleshooting Tips

circuit breakerIt pays to know how to do simple troubleshooting, so you have an idea of what you’re dealing with. Common troubleshooting steps you can take include:

Check The Power

The circuit breaker could have a problem and is not delivering power to the unit. Check the power source to see if the furnace is powered up.

Reset The Furnace Ignitor

To reset the ignitor, you need to kill the power to the furnace first. Turn off the circuit that powers the furnace. Next, locate the burner door. Behind that, you will see the ignitor. Turn it to the “Off” position. Wait 5 minutes before turning it back on. Replace the burner door, making sure that the door switch is engaged correctly. Restart the furnace by turning the furnace power from the main electrical panel.

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Always Call An HVAC Contractor When You Experience Issues With Your Gas Furnace

It is important that when it comes to any type of heating system malfunction, you should always call in a professional HVAC company. Their training and expertise can accurately determine the cause of the issue. Likewise, they will be able to find the best solutions to remedy your furnace issues. This way, you can have the peace of mind that your system is operating safely and efficiently.

Unless you are a trained HVAC technician, performing any DIY repairs on a gas furnace is always a very dangerous idea. Not only is it dangerous but you could cause further damage to your unit. Many homeowners who attempt to repair their own gas furnace end up regretting their decision. They usually cause more problems, costing more to repair. Save yourself the time, stress, and money by calling an HVAC company right when you notice any gas furnace issues.



Ignitor furnace problems may be more complicated than an old ignitor that just needs a replacement. For one, furnaces with electronic ignitors cannot be lit manually. Other problems like dirty filters still need the expertise and equipment of professionals if you want them replaced or cleaned properly. It is useful, however, to know the possible causes so you have a good idea of what your problem could be. Knowing a few troubleshooting tips can also help you understand what is going on so you can describe the issue to your professional HVAC company.

Call your local professional HVAC technician so you can get a professional solution and have your furnace back in working condition in no time.

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Point Bay Fuel offers superior heating and cooling services in the area. We hire the best NATE certified technicians who can provide you with excellent HVAC tune-ups, repairs, installations, and replacements. Each of our techs has the knowledge and experience to service your HVAC system correctly.

Need a heating system repair or replacement? No worries. You are in good hands with Point Bay Fuel. We guarantee the most competitive furnace repair and replacement costs in the area. As always, we prioritize energy efficiency, comfort, indoor air quality, and more. To schedule an appointment, give us a call today for a free, in-home estimate.


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