What a Flame Sensor Is and Why It Matters

Scheduling your seasonal furnace maintenance helps keep your heating system working up to thirty percent more efficient and helps extend the life of the equipment. But things can still go wrong, and when they do, you might feel like it’s always something else. 

This time it’s your motor, next time it’s your control valve. Now you need to replace your flame sensor. 

By the way – what is a flame sensor? 

A flame sensor is an important safety component on your gas heating system. During the ignition cycle, your gas furnace undergoes a process where a spark or a hot surface ignitor actually ignites the gas. As the gas is ignited, the flame sensor creates a current of electricity. The electricity is quantified in micro amps. If the furnace’s control board fails to read the proper level of micro amps, the furnace will stop giving the system fuel to stop an explosion. 

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

The way to diagnose if a soiled flame sensor is causing a furnace malfunction is to take a micro amp draw reading, which a professional furnace technician can provide you. If a dirty flame sensor is the guilty party, the furnace expert will clean the sensor with steel wool. If dirt was the sole factor, we will see a much higher amp reading. If the reading doesn’t change, the technician will continue with the heating system repair diagnostic process. 

If you aren’t sure your heating equipment is going to make it through these last few weeks of winter, give Stevenson Service Experts a call and we’ll come out and perform a full furnace maintenance or a complimentary in-home estimate on a new HVAC system. 

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