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What a Flame Sensor Is and Why It Matters

February 26, 2017

Receiving your seasonal furnace maintenance helps keep your furnace operating up to 30 percent more efficient and helps extend the life of your furnace. But things can still stop working, and when they do, you could feel like it’s always something else.

This time it’s your blower, next time it’s your control valve. Now you have to have your flame sensor replaced.

By the way – what is a flame sensor?

A flame sensor is a crucial safety component on your gas heating system. During the ignition cycle, your gas furnace goes through a process where either a hot surface ignitor or a spark actually ignites the gas. When the gas is ignited, the flame sensor creates 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 appropriately, oxidation or carbon buildup can interfere with the flame sensor’s ability to operate 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 an expert heating technician can provide you. If a dirty flame sensor is the culprit, the furnace expert will clean the sensor with steel wool. If dirt was the single factor, we will see a significantly higher amp reading. If the reading doesn’t change, the technician will proceed with the heating system repair diagnostic process.

If you aren’t certain your furnace is going to make it through these last few weeks of winter, give Abbey Air Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning a call and we’ll come out and perform a full furnace maintenance or a free in-home estimate on a new HVAC system.

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