How To Light A Gas Furnace With An Electronic Ignition (Do This!)

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team

Gas furnaces with electronic components have become more prevalent in recent years and with good reason. They are more efficient, generally easier to use, and are arguably more reliable. Replacing your old furnace with one that uses electronic ignition is a wise choice.

However, there are times when gas furnaces with electronic ignition present problems you never had to deal with before. For instance, how do you light the furnace when the electronic ignition that’s supposed to take care of that fails? Thankfully, there’s a simple way to get around that unexpected issue.

To light a gas furnace with electronic ignition, start by turning the furnace’s thermostat to its lowest setting. Cut off the power to the furnace next then turn the igniter off and wait for the gas to clear. After waiting, you can switch the igniter back on, bring the power back, and watch the pilot light come alive.

Working with any piece of home equipment that uses gas and electricity can be somewhat intimidating. The issue affecting your gas furnace with electronic ignition is nothing to fear though. Read on to see how you can address that and other matters related to that specific type of furnace.

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What Is the Light in Your Gas Furnace with Electronic Furnace?

Gas furnaces rely on small flames to provide the heat homeowners are calling for. That small flame is known as the pilot light. The pilot light’s job is to ignite the gas coming from the main burner. After all, you cannot just stick a match in there. You have to rely on the pilot light to essentially allow the furnace to do its job.

There are different types of pilot lights used in furnaces. Let’s discuss them below.

Conventional Pilot Lights

Older gas furnaces rely on pilot lights that are burning all the time. It’s typically a small blue flame that is burning constantly. There are times however when that blue flame will go out. It may go out due to a draft close to the furnace or dirt buildup.

Whenever that pilot light goes out, you’ll have to ignite it manually before you can use the furnace again. It’s a process that can be done safely as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Intermittent Pilot Lights

In gas-powered furnaces that feature electronic components, the way the pilot light works has been tweaked considerably. Manufacturers now use something known as an intermittent pilot light. As you’ve probably guessed given its name, intermittent pilot lights aren’t burning 24/7. Instead, intermittent pilot lights turn on when you need them to.

Once you request more heat by adjusting the thermostat, a high-voltage electronic spark will give life to the pilot light. A flame sensing rod will then detect the pilot light and that causes the main burners to ignite. After that, the pilot light will go out and it won’t come back on until you call for more heat again.

Compared to conventional pilot lights, the ones found in gas furnaces with electronic ignition are way more efficient. Not having to work all the time certainly helps with that. Of course, the new intermittent pilot lights still present issues of their own.

What Are the Issues That Could Affect an Intermittent Pilot Light?

There are different issues that could affect the intermittent pilot light on your electric furnace. Two of them stand out for being fairly common. The first issue typically involves the electronic spark triggering but nothing happening after that. That spark is supposed to give life to the intermittent pilot light. For one reason or another though, there are times when it may fail to do its job.

In some cases, ignition may not occur at all. Something’s wrong with the furnace and it’s preventing the intermittent pilot light and the other components from turning on as intended.

Problems related to the furnace’s intermittent pilot light like the ones detailed above can be frustrating to deal with. Don’t lose heart though because they can still be remedied pretty easily.

How to Light Your Gas Furnace with Electronic Ignition

Older furnaces feature pilot lights that could be manually lighted whenever they went out. Things are different in gas furnaces with electronic ignition that make use of intermittent pilot lights. Lighting them manually is no longer an option so you will have to try a different approach.

Step 1: Shut Off Your Furnace

The first thing you should do is to turn the furnace completely off. To do that, start by turning the thermostat to the lowest setting available. You’re doing this to ease the furnace into working normally later on.

When you’re done with the thermostat, you can now shut off the power going to the furnace completely. Turning off the gas furnace is a good start but you may want to do more. Since we’re talking about a machine that uses both electricity and gas, shutting it down completely would be best.

Go look for the circuit switch for your furnace and turn that off. If you cannot find the circuit switch for your furnace, you can just turn off the main circuit.

Step 2: Look for the Burner Door

You now have to turn off the igniter but before you can do that, you must find the burner door. The igniter is found behind that burner door, which is why we need to locate it.

The burner doors on many gas furnaces with electronic ignition are typically positioned near the bottom of the machine. If you’re not sure that you’re looking at the burner door, feel free to reference the owner’s manual. Regardless of how you find the burner door, you should remove it. Set it to one side for now because you have to work inside the furnace.

Step 3: Reset the Igniter

With the burner door removed, you can switch off the igniter. The igniter may also be referred to as the gas control knob in the owner’s manual. Switch off the igniter per the manufacturer’s instructions and then wait. It typically takes about five minutes for lingering gas to move out of the furnace, but feel free to wait longer. Once the wait time is over, you can turn the igniter back on.

Step 4: Put the Burner Door Back in Place

Grab the burner door now and return it to its original position. Take the time to make sure that the burner door has been returned properly or else the furnace might not work.

Step 5: Turn On Your Furnace

All that’s left to do now is to turn your gas furnace with electronic ignition back on. Return the power to your furnace by switching on the main circuit or the appropriate circuit switch.

Turn the thermostat to your preferred temperature as well and wait for the pilot light to go on. Hopefully, the pilot light will indeed ignite and the burners will follow.

What Should I Do if the Pilot Light Still Fails to Ignite?

Let’s say that you followed the steps above but after moving the thermostat, you’re still not getting heat. Upon closer inspection, you also noticed that the pilot light did not ignite.

What should you do at that point? You have a few options to consider.

Reignite the Intermittent Pilot Light Again

Did resetting the pilot light not work the first time? It’s worth trying again to see if it will yield more successful results the second time around. Don’t worry about attempting to reset the intermittent pilot light again. Your gas furnace with electronic ignition won’t be damaged even if you do that.

Check the Air Filters

The furnace inside your home may not be able to do its job if its air filters are dirty. Check on those air filters while inspecting your gas furnace. They could very well be the reasons why the gas furnace is not working properly so clean them if necessary.

Clean the Igniter

The current condition of your gas furnace’s igniter could explain why the machine isn’t working. Igniters that are covered in dirt will not work like they’re supposed to.

Cleaning the igniter is an option, but it can be tricky if you’re inexperienced. The igniter can be damaged if you clean it the wrong way. Don’t shy away from calling the professionals if you need the igniter properly cleaned. It’s also possible that the igniter in your furnace is old and worn down. You’re better off replacing it at that point.

Call the Professionals

Calling over the professionals is recommended if you’re having persistent problems involving your gas furnace with electronic ignition. Like we noted earlier, the pros can handle cleaning the igniter if that’s required. The professionals can also deal with other serious issues that could be affecting your gas furnace.

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Related Questions

How Long Will the Electronic Ignition on the Gas Furnace Last?

Assuming you’ve been cleaning the igniter regularly, you can expect it to remain in good condition for a long time. Igniters usually have a lifespan of about seven years before they warrant replacement. When the time does come for a change, finding a replacement igniter is easy enough.

How Much Will It Cost to Replace the Igniter?

Different components of a gas furnace with electronic ignition will have to be replaced as they age. Those include the blower motor, the flame sensing rod, and of course, the igniter. So, how much will you have to pay to replace the igniter? A replacement igniter itself is very affordable. You can find parts that are available for as low as $20 and even the pricier options top out at $40.Getting the new igniter professionally installed can be costly though. You may have to pay upwards of $100 for that kind of service.

Upgraded Home Team
Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of passionate homeowners, home improvement pros, and DIY enthusiasts who enjoy sharing home improvement, housekeeping, decorating, and more with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for a step-by-step guide on fixing an appliance or the cost of installing a fence, we've here to help.

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