Furnaces are designed not only to warm your house and make it comfortable, but also to be as safe as possible. One of the safety functions every furnace has is a flame rollout switch, which will trip and stop the furnace when something is wrong. You must reset the flame rollout switch to make the furnace work again, but some homeowners wonder if they can bypass it.
It is not recommended that you bypass a flame rollout switch, for several reasons. Flame rollout switches trip when the heat exchanger is damaged, or the vent is clogged. If there is a fluctuation in gas pressure within the furnace, it can also cause the flame rollout switch to trip and can be temporarily reset.
Resetting the flame rollout switch is only a temporary fix. Either inspect the furnace or contact a professional to see what caused the switch to trip. Let’s explore why it is not a good idea to bypass a flame rollout switch, and what you should do instead.
Table of Contents
- What Does a Flame Rollout Switch Do?
- What Causes Flame Rollout Switch To Trip?
- Can You Bypass Flame Rollout Switch?
- How To Reset a Flame Rollout Switch
- 1. Take Precautions
- 2. Remove the Panel
- 3. Reset Flame Rollout Switch
- How To Replace Furnace Filter
- 1. Identify the Filter
- 2. Remove the Furnace Filter
- 3. Install the New Filter
- What Did We Learn?
What Does a Flame Rollout Switch Do?
A flame rollout switch turns off the furnace if it is tripped due to excessive heat. If your furnace reaches or exceeds 350 degrees Fahrenheit, the flame rollout switch will trip and shut off the power. Flame rollout switches are necessary safety functions that prevent furnace damage as well as severe fire hazards in your house.
What Causes Flame Rollout Switch To Trip?
There are several things that can cause a flame rollout switch to trip that need to be addressed, including:
- Furnace vent is clogged
- Recent fluctuation in gas pressure
- Heat exchanger is damaged
- Clogged heat exchanger
Each of the above causes can lead to an increase in temperature, thus tripping the flame rollout switch. You can check the furnace yourself to see what you think may be the cause by inspecting the vent and heat exchanger. The vent and heat exchanger can become clogged with debris, cobwebs, and dust which can increase heat and cause combustion.
If there is debris or dust that heats up and combusts, it creates smoke and gases that trip the flame rollout switch. Even more serious, however, is if your heat exchanger is clogged or damaged.
A heat exchanger is made up of tubes that effectively warm up the air. When a heat exchanger is damaged or clogged, temperatures rise, along with combustion gases, and trip the flame rollout switch.
Can You Bypass Flame Rollout Switch?
It is not safe or recommended that you bypass a flame rollout switch. Bypassing a flame rollout switch leaves your home vulnerable to some significant fire hazards. Certain problems, such as a damaged heat exchanger, are leading causes of furnace fires and are detected by rollout switches.
Without your flame rollout switch, you wouldn’t be able to catch fire hazards within your furnace. Because of that, bypassing your flame rollout switch is a bad idea. However, when a flame rollout switch trips, you can reset it, but that does not solve the problem.
How To Reset a Flame Rollout Switch
When your flame rollout switch trips, you can reset it. Before you reset the switch, you should inspect the furnace to see if there is a serious problem. If your heat exchanger is cracked, don’t reset the flame rollout switch.
However, if there is a minor problem and you want to reset the switch until your furnace is serviced, it is quite easy.
1. Take Precautions
Before you lay a finger on the furnace, turn off the circuit breaker that the furnace is connected to. Now, shut off the gas so that there is no fire or electrical shock hazard as you reset the switch.
2. Remove the Panel
Remove the burner access panel on your furnace. At the top of the furnace, you can see that there is a burner assembly containing the gas burner. The flame rollout switch is generally right above the gas burner on most furnaces.
3. Reset Flame Rollout Switch
Double-check to make sure that the furnace has fully cooled down since the flame rollout switch tripped. Now, look at the flame rollout switch above the burner, and notice the button, usually in the center of it. On most furnaces, the flame rollout reset button is red, so it is hard to miss.
Press the reset button, then restore the power and gas. If the first attempt did not work, power the electricity and gas back down, and repeat the process. Check again, and if it did not work, enlist the help of a furnace repair professional.
Either the reset button is faulty, or the problems in the furnace that caused the rollout switch to trip are serious.
How To Replace Furnace Filter
A faulty or outdated furnace filter can also cause a flame rollout switch to trip and needs to be addressed. Luckily, replacing a furnace filter is easy and can make your furnace, and home, safe. Before you can get started, shut off the gas, as well as the electricity via the circuit breaker.
1. Identify the Filter
Where your filter is located can vary depending on the furnace that you have. Typically, however, you can find the furnace filter by the blower that is concealed by the furnace cover. If your furnace filter is made of cotton, you may be able to get by with simply washing it as opposed to replacing it.
However, if the furnace filter is made of fiberglass, it must be replaced as it can’t be washed. Furnace filters cost between $2 and $10 at most hardware stores. Buy a furnace filter that is the same size as the old one.
2. Remove the Furnace Filter
You can easily remove the furnace filter by hand, in many cases. However, expect the furnace filter to be caked in dust, which can be quite messy. It’s a good idea to be ready to dispose of the old filter as soon as you remove it, so keep a garbage can nearby.
Before you dispose of the old filter, pay attention to which side of it was facing the furnace. Many manufacturers print words or arrows denoting its position to the furnace.
3. Install the New Filter
Slide the new air filter into place where the old one was. Pay attention to make sure that you have the proper airflow direction as per the old filter. Once your filter is in place, you can put the furnace cover back on, make sure everything is secure, and restore power.
Turn the gas back on and see how your new air filter makes a difference.
What Did We Learn?
You should never bypass your flame rollout switch because it can alert you to problems with your furnace. If and when your flame rollout switch trips, turn off the electricity and gas so that you can inspect it.
It could be that your furnace filter simply needs to be replaced, or that your heat exchanger is damaged. Anytime that heat exceeds 350 degrees Fahrenheit, your flame rollout switch will trip. You can reset your furnace using the reset button on the flame rollout switch above the furnace.
Resetting your flame rollout switch is only a temporary solution, and you should diagnose the problem by inspecting the furnace. Good luck and be safe!