Even great equipment needs repairs once in awhile. After years of service, expect to run into issues with your Goodman furnace ignitor. Just like a car that needs an oil change, furnaces need regular maintenance to operate at peak performance. In this article we'll give you a few tips for troubleshooting your ignitor and what to do when you need help.
Safety Note: Before doing any kind of troubleshooting on your furnace, be sure to shut off the electricity and gas. If you're not sure how to cut the power and gas, call a professional for assistance.
Troubleshooting the Ignitor
The primary symptom of a faulty ignitor is the gas starts but doesn't ignite. In this circumstance, this is what is likely happening:
- Thermostat sends a signal for heat
- Inducer starts up
- Pressure switch senses negative pressure and closes
- Draft inducer runs, gas flow begins (you should be able to hear a hissing noise)
- The ignitor does NOT glow
- After a few seconds the flame sensor doesn't detect a flame so it shuts off the gas
- At this point, most furnaces will shut down and will need to have the power cycled
If this describes what is happening with your furnace, then the likely issue is the ignitor. First inspect the ignitor, but do not touch it with bare hands. Examine the ignitor closely for cracks. If you do see a crack, you need to replace the ignitor. If you do not see a crack, it is possibly another issue such as a control board issue or a limit switch issue.
If the above sounds familiar except that the gas DOES light but then after a few seconds shuts off again, then you may have an issue with the flame sensor not the ignitor. You can carefully clean the flame sensor with steel wool or sandpaper. If that doesn't do the trick, try replacing the flame sensor.
Ignitors are relatively inexpensive – running around $25-$30. It's not a bad idea to have a spare ignitor on hand as it is one of the more common parts to fail on a gas furnace. A spare can mean the difference between a quick repair job and a weekend spent in a cold house waiting for a part or service technician to arrive.
Calling the Cavalry
If you've tried the basic troubleshooting steps above and are not seeing results, it's time to call in a professional. Call the HVAC installation company who put in your system, or find a local licensed professional. You can often get a few bids via telephone if you've identified the source of the problem and can provide the make and model of your furnace. If this is the first time you've needed an HVAC professional, be sure to ask a few basic questions before going ahead with the work. Find out if they're licensed, certified, bonded and insured. Depending on the work that needs to be done, you might want to check references. You can also look into their Better Business Bureau record.