When your furnace begins to have short-cycling problems, there can be a number of different reasons for this type of problem. However, one likely problem is a dirty flame sensor. A dirty flame sensor can prevent the furnace from properly starting up and it will then quickly shut down. The flame sensor may seem like a small component and should not have a big affect on the overall heating system. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Hal Mechanical would like to share more about flame sensors and how it affect your heating system.
How Does a Furnace Flame Sensor Work?
A flame sensor is a small and basic component of the furnace. The flame sensor is a tiny metallic rod that is located on the furnace’s burner. It is bent and sits in front of the pilot flame inside the furnace. When the thermostat activates a heating cycle, the gas valve opens and supplies the gas to a combustion chamber that lights either a pilot light or ignitor. Furnace’s may vary on whether they use a pilot light or an ignitor, but both essentially lights the burner. The flame senor is there to confirm there is a flame when the gas valve opens up. The flame sensor helps to protect the home from over exposure to gas. If there is no flame burning the gas, the home will begin to fill up with gas and potentially lead to gas poisoning or a fire. The flame sensor is a small but essential part of the furnace that ensures the safety of the home.
Effects of a Dirty Flame Sensor
The flame sensor can stop or shut down a heating cycle if a flame is not detected. Additionally, the flame sensor will prevent another heating cycle from triggering too soon to ensure the gas has time to dissipate. If the flame sensor doesn’t detect a flame, you can go hours before the next heating cycle will start. If you experience your furnace starting and quickly shutting off, your flame sensor is simply protecting your home. When this happens you should turn off your heating system and inspect your furnace. If you do not smell gas you most likely still have a flame and the flame sensor may need to be cleaned or replaced. A dirty flame senor can prevent the sensor from detecting the flame. If the flame sensor appears dirty, you will want to clean it to restore your home’s heating system. However, the flame sensor might be broken and need to be replaced.
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Cleaning a flame senor isn’t a hard task but there are a number of steps involved and you must reinstall the flame sensor properly. A number of DIY flame sensor cleanings typically end up bad and an HVAC technician is called out anyway. Additionally, you may want a professional HVAC technician to ensure that your furnace has a flame and your problem is not a leak gas. An HVAC technician can easily clean the flame sensor and ensure you do not have a gas leak. You may also want to consider seeking a furnace tune-up as the flame sensor is checked and cleaned during this service. For quality HVAC services, contact Hal Mechanical and schedule your next appointment today.