3 Electric Ignition Options for Your Gas Furnace

An igniter on a furnace is a device that lights incoming gas as a way of telling the unit it is time to heat the incoming air. Gas furnaces can have several different types of igniters and the best kind depends on the age of the unit and your personal needs. Always consult a heating repair technician before making any changes to your current ignition system.

Here are a few of the different ignition systems that might be available for your unit or through the purchase of a newer unit.

Standing Pilot Light

If you have an older model gas furnace, your unit might have a standing pilot light as an igniter. The pilot light must stay lit continuously to be ready for when you call for heat by turning on the thermostat. If the light goes out, your furnace won't produce any hot air.

Standing pilot lights are somewhat unreliable and less efficient due to the fact that gas is continuously coming in to fuel the light. If you have a unit with a standing pilot light, consider purchasing a new furnace as soon as possible to lower your energy bills and increase your unit's performance.

Intermittent Pilot

An intermittent pilot, or IP, is an electric-based igniter that will light only when you call for heat. You turn on the thermostat, the thermostat creates a spark to light the IP, the unit's flame sensor sees that spark, and then the sensor tells the main burner that it needs to ignite to heat the forthcoming rush of air.

The advantage of an IP system is that the flames are only going and the gas only burning when you have actually called for the heat. The downside is that being able to spark and turn off so often requires some specialized mechanics that can go wrong and thwart your system.

If you have an IP system and are having problems cooling your home, contact a heating and cooling repair service for assistance.

Hot Surface Igniter

A hot surface igniter doesn't create an open flame for its pilot light. Instead, the igniter becomes super-heated and glows, which the burner sensor is then able to detect in order to trigger the heating system into full action.

Benefits of a hot surface igniter include efficiency of not having to run the gas to provide a constant flame, the inability of the glow "blowing" out the way a flame could, and the increased safety with the lack of flame. A hot surface igniter will need to be replaced periodically due to normal wear and tear but that is an easy task for an HVAC technician like Wm Jean Electric Co.