Clean Or Replace—What Should You Do About Faulty Burners?

If your heat exchanger is the heart and soul of your furnace, then your burners are its lungs. These components provide the air and fuel your furnace needs to "breathe," allowing it to produce the flames that ultimately heat your home. Problems with your burners can drive up your energy bills, stop your furnace from working, or even create a potentially hazardous situation.

Despite their importance, burners are relatively simple parts. These components direct a mixture of natural gas and air onto your furnace igniter, providing a steady supply of combustion material in just the right combination for a clean burn. Unfortunately, burners can sometimes fail, and it's crucial to recognize the signs of failure as early as possible so you can repair your home's heating system.

The Signs of Failing Burners

Numerous issues can impact the operation of your furnace burners, but this article will focus on problems with the burners themselves. If your burners aren't operating correctly, your furnace will run less efficiently. This loss of efficiency can mean increased utility bills and a heating system that struggles to reach your thermostat setpoints on cold days.

If you can hear your furnace, you may also notice a change in its sound profile. Rumbling or popping as the furnace engages can be a sign of incomplete combustion or, even worse, poorly contained flames. Never ignore unusual sounds from your furnace. Instead, look at the burners as the furnace runs and confirm that the flames are blue and bright. Flickering or orange flames indicate a combustion issue.

Your Options For Fixing a Faulty Burner

Burners typically fail because they become too dirty or clogged to function correctly. Routine maintenance can help avoid this situation, but a burner can become so contaminated that this is no longer an option. In severe cases, your burner may fail to ignite a flame at all, or the flame can "roll out" of the combustion chamber, potentially causing harmful exhaust gases to enter your home.

Once your burners reach this point, you should always have a professional inspect them and recommend the best long-term repair. If cleaning is no longer possible, you'll need to replace the entire burner unit or the individual burners with the most severe problems. Some older furnaces may also have adjustments for their burners, although you usually won't find this on newer models.

Remember that your burners substantially impact the efficiency and safety of your furnace. If you have any reason to suspect a burner problem, always contact an HVAC professional as soon as you can. A technician will have the skill and experience to evaluate your burners and determine the best course of action to get them working safely again.

For more information, contact a heating repair service.