Ahh The Joys of Owning Your Own Home

For the past five years my wife and I have owned what we consider to be a nice home.  This is the first house we bought and it took us several months to even get close to picking this one.  We went through the traditional bidding process with the seller and finally got what we thought was a good price.   While we have loved living there it seems like every time you start to get comfortable with where the house stands something breaks or goes out and most of the time it ends in a “Professional” that costs quite a bit of money sitting in your house at the most inconvenient time saying, “Oh, well right there’s the problem”.

Maybe it’s because I am an engineer that this bothers me.   This is why when my furnace went out this past week I didn’t bother, nor think, to call anyone immediately.   My first thoughts were the furnace had been  serviced about a year and a half ago and all the guy did was take some scotch brite to the flame sensor and managed to make the drain hose not drain.  After replacing the drain hose that was messed up I noticed the furnace was working quite well.  Then throughout the year we started to notice the furnace would still kick off now and then so we would simply cycle the power to it and it would be fixed.   Well the night came where that did not work anymore.  Instead we had a cold house and a furnace that wouldn’t light.

The first thing that came to my mind was to check the drain hose and flame sensor.  After dismantling the “fire box” I pulled the flame sensor out and saw it was clean as a whistle and the drain hose was allowing the water to come out of the furnace so I decided to try one more time.  Still nothing…  I then realized that I hadn’t seen any form of glow when the gas would start to be pumped into the box.  This made me think maybe the igniter isn’t working.  After seeing that the LED readout on the furnace was pointing me in that direction I tore into the unit a little further and pulled out the igniter.  The unit wasn’t like what I thought it would be.  It was a porous material almost like giant resistor to me. (I never claimed to be an HVAC expert)  I pulled the unit out and noticed it had some discoloration to it so I started to wipe it off with a very fine grit sand paper just to knock any buildup off.  What I found is in the picture below.

I saw two darkened areas where it appeared the unit was burnt.  This turned out to be a crack.  The piece had in fact cracked all the way through but it was still arcing whenever power was supplied to it.  I then thought to myself this has been out problem all along.  I assumed what had happened was the unit would arc and the spark would be big enough to light the gas.  Well the arcing had burned enough material off it had created a gap.  By this time it was about 9:15 P.M. on a Thursday night.  After finding out the local Home Depot was open I made a run and was able to procure their last replacement igniter on the shelves.  The unit said it was a direct replacement and included everything I needed.

Once I got the unit home I noticed none of their mounting brackets were quite like mine and the replacement was considerably shorter than my old igniter.  So after a few seconds of pondering I decided to make my own bracket by combining one of theirs with my old unit.  I placed my wire connectors (which weren’t supplied) onto the unit and sealed up the fire-box.  I thought to myself this is it.  If I did something wrong I’m sure that gas and the ignition system would surely let me know.  As I peered through the tiny pot hole on the box and flipped the switch I began to get nervous.  Then within a few second I saw a bright red glow of the new igniter, heard the gas valve open, and voilà fire!  I tested the unit several more times and decided it was working quite well so I buttoned everything back up and called it a night with my head held high.

EXAIR takes the same approach with our customers.  If you are having issues with a compressed air process, we help you find the solution.  Not only will we not charge you for the phone call but we will do our best to ensure you will walk away with a smile from your experience and the satisfaction of knowing you have the right answer.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_BF

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