What a Flame Sensor Is and Why It Matters

Scheduling your routine furnace maintenance helps keep your furnace operating up to 30% more efficient and helps extend the life of the equipment. But things may still malfunction, and when they do, you might feel like it’s always something else. 

This time it’s your heat exchanger, next time it’s your control board. Now you need to replace your flame sensor. 

What is a flame sensor, anyway? 

A flame sensor is a critical safety component on your gas furnace. During the ignition cycle, your gas furnace undergoes a process where either a spark or a hot surface igniter actually ignites the gas. Once the gas is ignited, the flame sensor generates a current of electricity. This is calculated in micro amps. If the furnace’s control board does not read the right level of micro amps, the furnace will no longer give the system fuel to avoid an explosion. 

Over time, if the flame sensor is not cleaned properly, oxidation or carbon buildup can impede the flame sensor’s ability to work properly, which can cause the furnace to malfunction. 

The way to establish if a soiled flame sensor is causing a furnace malfunction is to take a micro amp draw reading, which a professional furnace technician can supply you. If a dirty flame sensor is the reason, the furnace expert will clean the sensor with steel wool. If dirt was the sole factor, we will see a notably higher amp reading. If the reading shows no change, the technician will carry on with the furnace repair diagnostic process. 

If you aren’t certain your heating equipment is going to outlast these last few weeks of winter, give Stallion Heating and Air Conditioning a call and we’ll come out and provide you with a full furnace maintenance or a free in-home estimate on a new heating system. 

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