Author Topic: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on  (Read 21105 times)

eyePod

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 966
    • Flipping A Dollar
Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« on: November 21, 2014, 09:53:44 AM »
Backstory: Our furnace is old. Like 20+ years old. We bought our townhome in June. We have a 1 year warranty, but to get them to check anything, it'll cost $100.

When the furnace hasn't been on for a few hours, it takes a while to start up. Clicks at least 10 times, but then starts up. It doesn't seem to have this issue if it was on beforehand.

I have never made any repairs to a furnace before.

So my questions -
1 - Is it worth it to have them come out and check this? (cost wise, assuming they find it, they would cover repairs)
2 - Is this a quick/easy fix for me to do? It seems like it could be something with the spark or a sensor. I'm not sure how to go about testing this kind of thing to make sure I'm fixing the right part.
3 - Is it worth fixing this instead of just replacing, which we can probably do over the summer?

I don't think there's any danger in this, and we just about have enough set up to replace the unit (it's one of 3 ancient utility units in our house, the HVAC and water heater are also original).

wizlem

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 43
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2014, 11:09:46 AM »
If your furnace is that old, I'd imagine you would save money in the long run just replacing it with a more efficient furnace than messing with too much.

What do you mean exactly by not starting up? Usually the cycle is turn on gas and start igniting(the clicks) while checking the flame sensor. If the flame sensor doesn't detect enough current, it will keep igniting for some period until it does or it will shut off if it doesn't detect ignition in the specified time.

If the flames are roaring but it's still clicking, I'd clean/replace the sensor. If it's not lighting while it clicks repeatedly, I'd clean the ignitor and check the wiring.

eyePod

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 966
    • Flipping A Dollar
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2014, 11:13:49 AM »
If it's not lighting while it clicks repeatedly, I'd clean the ignitor and check the wiring.

It's this one. It clicks a bunch of times before it actually ignites. I'll have to youtube it, but I have no idea about what I'm looking for.

kevinb421

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 97
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2014, 11:49:48 AM »
This exact same thing happened to me last year.
I had an awesome guy come out and show me exactly what the problem is. (he actually told me over the phone what it was just from me telling)
Here is my super basic explanation of what it is from someone who doesn't show shit about a furnace.

When the flame ignites there is this little metal rod that senses there is fire. If that rod does not sense there is fire then it turns off and starts over. This is where you get the multiple clicks, over and over.

That rod gets carbon deposits on it from time to time and needs to be pulled out and use some steel wool on it to clean it. TADA all is good as new. My tech charged me $65 to fix this and it fires right up now. The thing is, it took him a whole 3 minutes and a simple youtube video will show you how to do this.
Or just open up the panel, wait for the fire to start and then look at the metal rod that is attached to a wire, thats the one to clean.

eyePod

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 966
    • Flipping A Dollar
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2014, 12:23:45 PM »
This exact same thing happened to me last year.
I had an awesome guy come out and show me exactly what the problem is. (he actually told me over the phone what it was just from me telling)
Here is my super basic explanation of what it is from someone who doesn't show shit about a furnace.

When the flame ignites there is this little metal rod that senses there is fire. If that rod does not sense there is fire then it turns off and starts over. This is where you get the multiple clicks, over and over.

That rod gets carbon deposits on it from time to time and needs to be pulled out and use some steel wool on it to clean it. TADA all is good as new. My tech charged me $65 to fix this and it fires right up now. The thing is, it took him a whole 3 minutes and a simple youtube video will show you how to do this.
Or just open up the panel, wait for the fire to start and then look at the metal rod that is attached to a wire, thats the one to clean.


OK, so my question though, is I have multiple clicks, but it's BEFORE it ignites. Once it ignites, it stops clicking. I found two e-hows, one to clean the sensor and one to clean the ignitor. I'm probably going to try the ignitor first with a can of air and then try to do the sensor too. Thanks!

MikeBear

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 390
  • Age: 60
  • Location: Michigan
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2014, 04:55:07 PM »
It's probably the spark ignitor. You probably have one of the old-school motorized ones with points. It probably isn't sparking, then it gives up for a bit to make sure there's no stray gas in there.

A point file, and some light filing might get you going again. However, if the points have a big pit in it, you'd be better off replacing it as it'll fail again real soon. Which means at 3am, and the oldest night of the year...

centwise

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2014, 08:45:35 AM »
This exact same thing happened to me last year.
I had an awesome guy come out and show me exactly what the problem is. (he actually told me over the phone what it was just from me telling)
Here is my super basic explanation of what it is from someone who doesn't show shit about a furnace.

When the flame ignites there is this little metal rod that senses there is fire. If that rod does not sense there is fire then it turns off and starts over. This is where you get the multiple clicks, over and over.

That rod gets carbon deposits on it from time to time and needs to be pulled out and use some steel wool on it to clean it. TADA all is good as new. My tech charged me $65 to fix this and it fires right up now. The thing is, it took him a whole 3 minutes and a simple youtube video will show you how to do this.
Or just open up the panel, wait for the fire to start and then look at the metal rod that is attached to a wire, thats the one to clean.

This has happened to us before, also. The repair guy showed be how to clean the rod but I still have never done it myself. :(

However: could it just be a filter that needs changing? At our place, the "funace-clicks-but-doesn't-really-come-on" usually means that it needs a new filter.

worms

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 367
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2014, 04:45:49 PM »
You don't say what sort of system you have there and that might alter the advice on whether you should be trying to do it yourself.

When I get the multiple clicks on my oil-fired system, it is dust or carbon on the sensor. On mine it is a light sensor that detects when ignition has been achieved.  But if I was opening it all up, I would clean the points at the same time.

I would also look on the savings gained by the DIY approach as off-setting the occasional cost of replacing parts that perhaps don't need replacing, so I might be tempted to replace both the sensor and points with new ones.

eyePod

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 966
    • Flipping A Dollar
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2014, 07:05:45 AM »
It's a natural gas furnace. Filter was changed right before we turned it on at the start of November.

Probably worth it to just clean everything up (air can and steel wool) vs. replacing the parts. We plan on replacing the whole unit, so if I can get it to go for a few years, I'll be happy.

I appreciate the questions/suggestions though!

BAMxi

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 71
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2014, 09:17:51 PM »
This exact same thing happened to me last year.
I had an awesome guy come out and show me exactly what the problem is. (he actually told me over the phone what it was just from me telling)
Here is my super basic explanation of what it is from someone who doesn't show shit about a furnace.

When the flame ignites there is this little metal rod that senses there is fire. If that rod does not sense there is fire then it turns off and starts over. This is where you get the multiple clicks, over and over.

That rod gets carbon deposits on it from time to time and needs to be pulled out and use some steel wool on it to clean it. TADA all is good as new. My tech charged me $65 to fix this and it fires right up now. The thing is, it took him a whole 3 minutes and a simple youtube video will show you how to do this.
Or just open up the panel, wait for the fire to start and then look at the metal rod that is attached to a wire, thats the one to clean.

Had this exact same issue last year as well. It is the flame sensing rod, just as kevin is describing above. It's just a basic rod you can pop out and clean. You can google your specific furnace model plus "clean flame sensing rod" or something like that to see where yours is located and how to get to it. On my Lennox furnace, the tech who showed me how to clean it fixed it in literally 2 minutes by cleaning it up with some steel wool. Should be super simple for you to do on your own! Good luck!

greaper007

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1129
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2014, 09:15:37 AM »
Grab a new part now, mine broke on a day that it was 0 degrees outside last month.    My ignitor was broken, $60 part that I swapped out in about 4 mins.    I also just replaced the flame sensor rod because there was an updated design, that was only $30.   So for $90 I had a working furnace for less than a service call would have cost.    Parts would have been even cheaper if I had the foresight to buy them off of ebay this past summer.

If yourfurnace is only 20 years old that means it's probably about an 85% efficiency.  The best you can do is a 96% efficiency furnace and that's going to cost you a boatload of money (you might have to update your ductwork if you go with the high end models).    You can run the math yourself, but I think you'll be looking at about a 15-20 year payback period.   Standard furnaces are still 85%, so I'd say keep yours until it looks like it's going to break.   In my last house, I had an oil burning furnace from 1954 that was still going strong.    20 years really isn't that old for a furnace

Ovid

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2014, 05:01:25 AM »
I think the one thing you know (nearly?) for sure in this situation is, it is not seeing a flame. 

Now that can be that there is no flame due to a number of factors.  My heater last winter was a bad gas valve.  Certainly all the tips I have seen in this thread could also be culprits. 

Also could just not be seeing a flame that is there, so something with the fire eye system.

eyePod

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 966
    • Flipping A Dollar
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2014, 06:03:37 AM »
I think I'm going to try cleaning both the sensor and the ignitor first. If that doesn't improve the situation, I'll try replacing the parts. You guys have given me a lot of info and I'll be taking a whack at it this weekend!

greaper007

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1129
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2014, 10:49:52 PM »
Don't clean the ignitior!!!!   Those things are very fragile, they'll break like a light bult.    If you see any sort of melting (like a solder splatter) on the ignitor rod that's the issue with the ignitor.   You can't clean these things though.

eyePod

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 966
    • Flipping A Dollar
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2014, 07:55:50 AM »
Don't clean the ignitior!!!!   Those things are very fragile, they'll break like a light bult.    If you see any sort of melting (like a solder splatter) on the ignitor rod that's the issue with the ignitor.   You can't clean these things though.

Sorry, I meant use a can of compressed air to "clean" it. Don't freak out! :) Thanks for the heads up though.

greaper007

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1129
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2014, 04:13:53 PM »
Don't clean the ignitior!!!!   Those things are very fragile, they'll break like a light bult.    If you see any sort of melting (like a solder splatter) on the ignitor rod that's the issue with the ignitor.   You can't clean these things though.

Sorry, I meant use a can of compressed air to "clean" it. Don't freak out! :) Thanks for the heads up though.

Lol, I should have couched that with "I know this because I broke one."

eyePod

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 966
    • Flipping A Dollar
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2014, 07:25:05 AM »
Don't clean the ignitior!!!!   Those things are very fragile, they'll break like a light bult.    If you see any sort of melting (like a solder splatter) on the ignitor rod that's the issue with the ignitor.   You can't clean these things though.

Sorry, I meant use a can of compressed air to "clean" it. Don't freak out! :) Thanks for the heads up though.

Lol, I should have couched that with "I know this because I broke one."

Figured as much because of your sense of urgency. :)

Left

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1159
Re: Furnace Clicks ~10+ times Before kicking on
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2014, 08:22:22 AM »
sorry, I'm going to be vague with my terms but hoping it helps. It could be there's a bunch of carbon built up in between those trumpet horn looking things that the fire is spitting into (mine has 3 of them but I don't know if this is standard amount). You can unscrew the metal arms holding them in place and pull up (they twist at an angle to come out) and take them out. And clean them with a metal brush on outside and blow into it to get stuff out of it. There's also some kind of sensor that looks like a straight coat hanger that I clean off since I already have it out at same time. Putting the horns back is important because the gas flows between the horns and that's how the furnace gets the gas. They fit kind of layered, 1 side going under the neighbor's and then above the next one (why you have to twist it to get out). If you need a picture I can point it out on mine, but they are pretty much the largest things once you take off the cover so should be easy to spot.

The problem is just there's too much dust/carbon/something in the horns that block the gas from flowing through so it takes it a bit to accumulate enough to start the furnace up. At least that's what I've been told before and I've made it a habit of cleaning it each fall before winter. It's quick, maybe 10-15 minutes once you get the hang of getting the horn things out and back in.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2014, 08:28:57 AM by eyem »