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Why Your Furnace’s Burners Aren’t Coming On


Ah, the comforting whoosh and hum of a running furnace. It’s a cozy reminder that your heat is working and your home is being kept nice and warm. But it’s also one of those things you don’t pay much attention to. It’s the absence of that sound that you really notice. What could be going wrong?

If your furnace is trying to start but not getting running, a variety of things could be occurring. Here are the most likely culprits if your furnace’s burners aren’t coming on. Chances are, it’s straightforward for a qualified professional to fix.

The Pilot

Pilot lights used to be the only way furnace burners were lit, but you’ll only have one now if your furnace is older. It needs to be lit at all times, so if it’s out, find your furnace’s owner’s manual and follow the instructions to re-light it. If you can’t, or if you do but it keeps going out again, you’ll need heating repair in Evanston, IL to clean or repair the pilot assembly.

The Electronic Ignition System

This is how newer furnaces light: an electronic igniter makes a spark. These ignition systems often don’t last as long as the furnace itself and will require replacement at some point during your furnace’s life. Like all of the repairs we mention here, this must be done by a qualified professional, both for your safety and to keep from voiding your warranty.

The Flame Sensor

This component is a safety mechanism. It determines whether there’s a flame, and only allows gas to be released if the flame is present. If you do have a flame, but the flame sensor isn’t allowing gas to flow, it may simply be too dirty to detect that the flame is there. A technician can disassemble and clean it.

The Gas Valve

This is the valve that the flame sensor allows to open once the flame is detected. If it’s stuck shut, no gas will flow, and the furnace will shut down without the burners lighting. Do keep in mind that, for safety, gas lines must only be handled by people with the proper licensing. There may even be legal requirements in your area about this. So don’t try to fix it yourself, get help from a qualified professional.

The Burners

If none of these other components are preventing your burners from lighting, it’s probably the burners themselves that are the problem. While your furnace’s burners are unlikely to actually break or fail, they’re likely to become dirty. Your heating technician will have to disassemble them in order to carefully clean away the carbon or grime that is coating them. 

Preventing the Problem in the Future

Once you’ve gotten your heating issue resolved, you’ll be glad to know that it can probably be avoided in the future. How can you keep your burners burning without issues caused by dirty or malfunctioning components? Annual maintenance! This involves cleaning all components and testing to make sure everything works properly. The vast majority of repairs can be avoided by having this done every year.

Contact ServiceMax with any questions about your furnace.

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