Furnace Ignitor: How Often Does it Need Maintenance?

An HVAC contractor working on furnace ignitor replacement

There are a lot of things in our lives that need maintenance. Your car, AC, furnace, and even your own body require maintenance. It can be hard to remember to take care of all these different requirements on top of everyday life. 

One thing that should be checked periodically is your furnace ignitor. Without that, you’ll have no heat for the winter. It is essential to ensure the heater runs safely without any hitches once the temps drop. 

Do you know what type of furnace ignitor you have and how to tell if it’s working? If your answer is no, then you aren’t alone. It is important to know these little details to maintain your appliances better, even if it’s to tell the maintenance man what to expect.

Ignitor Coil vs. Spark and Pilot Light Ignition

There are several different types of furnace ignitors, and what you have largely depends on when your furnace was manufactured. There are four primary types of furnace ignitors. 

1) Standing Pilot Ignition System

The standing pilot light is one of the older furnace ignitors. It was first manufactured in the early 1920s and stayed popular through the 1980s. While reliable, they are incredibly inefficient.

The light stays permanently lit and uses a constant flow of gas. The flame is used to light the main burners whenever the thermostat drops below the preferred temperature. The pilot light is never extinguished. 

2) Intermittent Pilot Light Ignition System

From the 1950s until just before the 2000s, furnaces were manufactured with an intermittent pilot light system. It works by using a gas pilot light and an automatic spark ignitor. The pilot light is always on. Once the furnace is needed, the automatic spark ignitor turns on and lights the burners instead. 

3) Direct Spark Ignition System

Between the 80s and 90s, furnaces were manufactured with a direct spark ignition system. Instead of using a pilot light, it creates flames directly in the main burners. This furnace ignitor tends to be durable and lasts a long time. 

4) Hot Surface Ignition System (Ignitor Coil)

Hot surface ignition systems, or the ignitor coil, only started being manufactured about twenty years ago. This ignitor is the most energy-efficient because it only uses fuel when the furnace is heating the home. They are also much quieter and don’t have a clicking sound when it starts up. 

Ignitor and Furnace Maintenance

About seventy-five percent of heat service calls in the winter are due to a lack of maintenance. Getting your furnace and its ignitor serviced regularly ensures you have heat when needed. Routine maintenance also helps catch any problems before they become serious. 

Consider furnace maintenance as a part of your annual wellness check. Your doctor wants to look at everything and make sure nothing major is wrong. The HVAC technician is the same; they look over the systems and ensure no significant furnace repairs are needed. They also check the smaller parts, like the ignitor, to ensure they still work. 

The best time to check your furnace is a few weeks before the cold weather sets in. That way, you know the heater is working, and all you have to do is turn it on. 

Furnace Ignitor Replacement

Furnace ignitors don’t need replacement often. Ignitors last between four and seven years and can be serviced without replacing the entire furnace. When minor repairs are needed, your service company should have the necessary replacement parts on hand. Be sure to keep track of your records. This way, you’ll know when it’s time for a furnace ignitor replacement.

Service Patriots: Home Comfort Solutions

Your heating system’s performance depends on how well-maintained it is. The warmth and quality of air produced by the heater, as well as the electricity it consumes, are influenced by regular maintenance. 

Our furnace technicians at Service Patriots are experts in heating maintenance work. We pride ourselves on providing honest and ethical service to our customers. We’re here to answer your questions about furnace maintenance, labor costs, and the typical cost of replacing a furnace ignitor. Contact us today to learn more.

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