I'm not on the market for a furnace nor expect to be anytime soon so this
is just out of curiousity based on reading posts here.
Our furnace has spark-ignited pilot. Seems to me that after the demise of
the gas-wasting standing pilot that would be the way to go. I see a lot of
posts where the culprit in someone's problem may be a hot surface ignitor
and also how delicate these are in handling. Is that technology as much
less reliable as the posts here would make it seem? Should I make a mental
note in the back of my mind to avoid them if I was ever buying a new
Also, just for clarity, does a hot surface ignitor still light a pilot
before main gas? I once saw a furnace sitting for sale at a big box store
and looking it over for curiousity I noticed that it seemed like it had no
pilot...at least I didn't see anything that looked like one. I don't know
what kind of ignition it had. (I don't recall the brand.) Isn't it safer
to ignite a pilot, wait a moment for the flame to be proved, and then kick
on the burner?
HSI ignition systems are switching to a ceramic ignitor, and they are much
tougher than the older ones.
Spark ignitors can be a POS, or they can last about forever. Nothing man
made is perfect and no one can tell you what style system will work best.
As part of the required and mandated safety system, each unit for resi use
has a flame proving system, to insure the gas valve does nto go into full
flow until there is flame.
Just to add a couple of layperson comments to the correct answers you have
The ignition is instantaneous. The valve partly opens and there is fire.
Also the new systems have a draft induction system (think exhaust fan) so
even if the equipment fails to light when the valve partly opens any gas is
sucked up the flue. The control board shuts the valve if the flame sensor
does not register flame. The entire process is a series of steps and checks
not unlike booting a computer.
Now the wisdom of having a computer board in such a hostile environment is
another topic for discussion.
In case of failure, spark ignitor costs lot more to fix(usually the
module goes), HSI(silicon or ceramic type) is cheaper to replace.
In 10 years I replaced HSI once and I keep a spare one on hand. That
thing burnt out in the dead winter on week end. Spark ignitor out at my
cabin is still working for ~10 years.
I haven't yet thanked the folks in my last thread for their advice --
Thank you guys, I talked to my friend and he is convinced now to get
another HSIgnitor.. I'm going to buy him the one on the recommended
webpage. He's going to have an oven that works well, and I know
that he too appreciates your efforts, even if he's not here to say so.
And I'm also a layman and nothing I say contradicts anyone here.
And it doesn't apply to furnaces either, which have to go on
automatically. But as for ovens, right now I'd**** be ready for him
to just have the oven I grew up with that lit with a match. I use
the oven or broiler 2 or 3 times a week and my mother used it 4 or 5
times a week. It was no effort to light a match and hold it to the
hole at the front bottom of the oven. The flame was sucked in and it
If there was an electric outage, the stove lit anyhow.
At that time, top burners shared either one or two pilot lights for
the four of them (one if all 4 were next to each other and 2 if they
were in separate columns.) I guess they don't have pilots to save
electircity, but then wouldn't the sparker ignitiion work and allow
them to be lit with a match if there were no electricity?
My guess is that the electrical systems that are in use now were
established to compete with electric ovens which had timers that
would, if one was so bold, start cooking when no one was home, and
then if people came home later than they expected, turn the heat to
warm after the roast was cooked so it wouldn't burn to a crisp or
start a fire.
I wanted one of those fancy timers, but the stove that came with the
house doesn't have them, and I'm content to only make a roast or
turkey on the weekend. And I would just like things to be simple.
Maybe after my friend's oven is fixed and works with no problem for a
few months I'll change my mind.**
If a stove or oven had the electric sparker, wouldn't that also light
with a match in case of a power failure. (There are a lot of them in
Baltimore, for a day or two.)
I didn't look closely but I think I saw in the HD in Dallas simple
ovens with a hole in the front bottom to be lit with a match. Was it
my mistake or do they still sell these?
****Well, I myself have an electric stove which gets almost hot enough
to broil the fat on a steak or lambchop, but not quite. I want a gas
stove but there is no gas service to my house.
**His oven broke within a month of his buying it and under warrantee,
they put in a new HSI. Then a year or two later, it broke again, and
he himself put in a new one. Paid 80 dollar for the part. He says he
was gentle and there is a screen around the actual surface so Idon't
see how he could have touched it. Now it seems to have failed again,
the third time in 3 years.
This time we put in another set of wire nuts inside the oven so we
don't have to remove the oven from the wall***. Although that's not
so difficult, the appliance repair man who came this month to repair
it said he had to come back with helper to do this repair. This is a
guy who I know has been in business for at least 20 years, works out
of his house and truck.
***And he won't have to get me to help if it needs repair again.
Is this a bad idea? We'd only have a half inch or less on each wire
of added wire showing, that wasn't the wires that are part of the
ignitor. The appliance supply house said they sold him high temp wire
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let
me know if you have posted also.
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