Furnace Not Igniting: Common Causes & Fixes

Has winter got you and your furnace down? When your furnace doesn’t ignite, it can be frustrating (and cold!) Don’t worry: the experts at Anderson Heating and Air are here to help you get to the bottom of this chilly mystery. 

This article will guide you through some common issues that might be preventing your furnace from igniting. So, let’s dive into the world of furnaces and uncover some common causes and fixes. Please note that for your safety, all technical work should be left to a professional furnace technician.

Got an emergency? We’re available on-call outside our regular hours to provide you with the best HVAC service you deserve. Give us a call today. 

What is a furnace ignition, and why is it important? 

Like the spark plug in a car, the furnace ignition is what lights the gas burner and kicks off the system’s heating process. 

Without a functioning ignition, there’s no starting point of operation and the flow of heat halts, leaving your home at the mercy of the temperatures outdoors. It’s a small but critical component that helps keep your home warm. 

What happens when your furnace doesn’t ignite? 

When your furnace fails to ignite, the consequences can range from inconvenient to downright uncomfortable. When it doesn’t light, it means your furnace won’t generate heat, leading to a cold, unwelcoming home environment, especially during winter. 

But it’s not just about comfort; it’s also a safety issue. Some faulty ignitions can lead to gas leaks, which pose health and potential fire risks. Additionally, if a faulty unit continuously attempts to ignite your furnace, it may damage other integral components, leading to costly repairs. 

If your furnace is given you trouble, always contact an expert HVAC technician (like the ones at Anderson Air!) for a thorough inspection and repair.

Why is my furnace not igniting? 

Here’s a list of reasons why your furnace may not ignite. 

The igniter is faulty

One of the top reasons furnaces don’t ignite is because of a faulty igniter. The device can wear down after years of use or get covered in grime, which will hinder it from producing the spark that initiates heating. 

If your furnace is not igniting, call a technician to check the condition of the igniter. The solution? They will clean or replace unit and your furnace should start up again in no time.

Gas supply issues 

Gas supply problems can prevent your furnace from igniting. If the gas valve is shut or there is a blockage in the gas line, your furnace won’t get enough fuel to ignite. Make sure the valve is open and the supply is consistent. If you suspect an issue, call in a professional since handling gas lines can be dangerous.

Thermostat malfunction 

Your thermostat controls when and how much heat your furnace should produce. If it’s malfunctioning, it won’t send the right signals to your furnace, preventing it from igniting. Check if your thermostat is set to the right mode and temperature. An incorrect setting can affect the function of your whole system.  

If the settings are correct, also check to make sure that the batteries are working properly and that your circuit breaker is in the ON position. 

If all of these things are correct, but it’s not functioning correctly, you may need a professional to inspect and possibly replace the device.

Faulty flame sensor 

The flame sensor monitors whether a flame is present once your furnace ignites. If it’s faulty, it may incorrectly signal that there is no flame, causing your furnace to switch off as a safety measure. A professional technician will replace or clean the sensor to solve this issue.

Pilot light issues 

Some furnaces use a pilot light to ignite the gas. If the pilot light goes out or is unstable, your furnace may not ignite. Relighting the pilot light can sometimes solve the problem. However, if it continues to go out, get a professional to inspect it.

Motor or fan problems 

The fan motor of your furnace plays a significant role in maintaining heat levels. If it’s malfunctioning, the furnace might fail to ignite. Regular maintenance can prevent such issues. If you suspect a motor or fan problem, it’s best to have a professional evaluate the situation.

Blocked ventilation and reduced air intake

Proper ventilation and air intake are crucial for your furnace to operate efficiently. If either gets blocked, your furnace might fail to ignite. Regular checks for dirt and other blockages in your vents and air filters can help prevent this. 

If your filter is dirty (has a lot of visible dust and grime), you can replace it yourself or contact a professional. If there’s a blockage, it should be cleared by a professional to restore proper function. 

Remember, regular maintenance is the key to a well-functioning furnace. For any of the above issues, the Anderson Air team is always ready to assist.

When to contact a professional 

While homeowners can perform basic troubleshooting and preventative maintenance, it’s important to contact a professional when your furnace fails to ignite despite these efforts. Signs that you need professional assistance include:

  • Persistent ignition failure.
  • Unfamiliar noises from the furnace.
  • A sudden increase in your energy bills. 

A DIY job can be dangerous to you and your system. Professionals have the necessary experience, knowledge, and tools to diagnose and resolve complex furnace issues safely and effectively. Attempting complex repairs on your own can lead to further damage and costly repairs. 

Most importantly, professional intervention ensures the safety of your system and family, as improperly handled repairs can pose serious hazards such as gas leaks or electrical accidents.

Preventative measures and maintenance 

Like all appliances, your furnace will eventually need repair. However, there are several ways to make sure your furnace stays running properly, including: 

  • Schedule professional maintenance regularly: Routine checks from qualified technicians can help identify and prevent potential issues before they escalate into significant problems.
  • Keep your thermostat in good condition: Regularly check the settings and batteries to make sure it’s working like it should. 
  • Check the gas supply: Regularly inspect your gas valve to ensure it is open and providing a consistent gas supply to your furnace.
  • Check the ventilation and air intake: Regular checks for blockages in your vents and air filters can prevent faulty ignition due to improper ventilation and reduced air intake.
  • Regularly inspect the igniter: The igniter should be checked periodically for wear and tear or grime build-up, which could prevent it from producing the necessary spark. 
  • Monitor the pilot light: For older furnaces with a pilot light, ensure it is stable and relight it if it goes out. If the pilot light continues to go out, a professional should inspect it.
  • Keep an eye on the fan motor: Regular maintenance can prevent fan motor malfunctions that could interfere with furnace ignition.

Choose the best company for your heating and cooling needs

For your furnace to work well, it’s internal components need to work properly, too. If they falter, your furnace likely won’t ignite, leaving you more cold than comfortable. 

If your furnace isn’t working, it’s crucial to note that playing around with these machines can be dangerous to you and your heating system. Leave the fixing to the pros. 

Don’t hesitate to contact us today for all your HVAC concerns. 

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