What a Flame Sensor Is and Why It Matters

Receiving your annual furnace maintenance helps keep your furnace running up to thirty percent more efficient and helps extend the life of the equipment. But things may still malfunction, and when they do, you might feel like there is always something else. 

This time it’s your blower, next time it’s your control board. Now your find out the flame sensor has to be replaced. 

What is a flame sensor, anyway? 

A flame sensor is a critical safety feature on your gas heating system. During the ignition sequence, your gas furnace enters a process where a spark or a hot surface ignitor actually ignites the gas. Once the gas is ignited, the flame sensor creates a current of electricity. The current is quantified in micro amps. If the furnace’s control board fails to read the correct 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 work properly, which can result in a malfunction of the furnace. 

The way to determine if an unclean flame sensor is the reason 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 guilty party, the technician will clean the sensor with steel wool. If dirt was the single factor, we will see a notably higher amp reading. If the reading doesn’t change, the technician will proceed with the furnace repair diagnostic process. 

If you aren’t sure your furnace is going to outlast 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 free in-home estimate on a new heating system. 

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