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Combustion Furnace Components: Electronic Igniters

Furnaces have a process by which they ignite; this ensures safety and correct combustion. Older furnaces have a standing pilot light, but today’s furnaces come equipped with an electronic igniter. There are two types of electronic igniters and each works a little differently, as we’ll explain below. If you are experiencing problems getting your furnace to ignite or stay lit after ignition, schedule an appointment with your Bartels Heating & Cooling specialist today for quality furnace services in Hamilton.

Types of Electronic Ignition

The two types of electronic ignition are:

  • Hot Surface Ignition
  • Intermittent Ignition

Hot Surface Ignition

A hot surface igniter is a metal probe that heats up when the thermostat cues the ignition process. When the igniter becomes hot enough (it will glow like a light bulb), the main gas valve opens, allowing the gas to flow. Once the gas comes into contact with the heat from the igniter, the gas ignites and lights the burner.

The most common problem that develops with a hot surface igniter is cracking. The metal heats and cools constantly, causing the metal to expand and contract; eventually, the metal will wear and crack. A cracked igniter can’t heat up properly, so your system will have trouble igniting.

Intermittent Ignition

With an intermittent igniter, gas flows through a small pilot line when the thermostat cues for ignition to begin. Once the gas flows, a small electronic device creates a spark that lights the pilot. A flame sensor checks to see if the pilot is lit and if the flame is viable; once the flame is found to be viable, the main gas valve opens and the pilot lights the burner.

A few things can cause the intermittent ignition to fail: incorrect positioning of the pilot gas pipe, problems with the electrical supply, and issues with the flame sensor.

Why Electronic Igniters?

With a standing pilot light, a small amount of gas has to flow all the time; this is not the case with either type of electronic igniter. This not only saves you energy, it can also be safer.

Ignition problems with your furnace in Hamilton should always be handled by an expert. Having ignition problems with your furnace? Contact us today!

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