What a Flame Sensor Is and Why It Matters

Setting up your seasonal furnace maintenance helps keep your furnace working up to 30% more efficient and helps extend the life of the equipment. But things can still malfunction, and when they do, you could feel like you’re always hearing about something else. 

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

What is a flame sensor, anyway? 

A flame sensor is a crucial safety component on your gas heating system. During the ignition cycle, your gas furnace enters a process where either a hot surface ignitor or a spark will ignite the gas. When the gas is ignited, the flame sensor generates a current of electricity. The electricity is quantified in micro amps. If the furnace’s control board fails to read the right level of micro amps, the furnace will stop giving the system fuel to prevent an explosion. 

Over time, if the flame sensor is not cleaned appropriately, oxidation or carbon buildup can hinder the flame sensor’s ability to work properly, which can result in a malfunction of the furnace. 

The way to determine if a soiled flame sensor is to blame for a furnace malfunction is to take a micro amp draw reading, which an expert heating technician can give you. If a dirty flame sensor is the offender, the technician will clean the sensor with steel wool. If dirt was the only factor, we will see a notably higher amp reading. If the reading doesn’t change, the technician will carry on with the heating equipment repair diagnostic process. 

If you aren’t sure your furnace is going to make it through these last few weeks of winter, give Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing a call and we’ll come out and give you a full furnace maintenance or a no-charge in-home estimate on a new heating system. 

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