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Rheem gas furnace pilot lights, but no burners or fan

Electric ignition gas pilot works, burners light faintly, but not fully, then die out. Pilot stays lit until I turn off thermostat. Last week, the furnace started acting up-would go through 4-5 cycles of coming on with burners and blower, then blower would go off for a minute or 2, while burners would stay lit. Then blower would come back on after another minute. After several cycles, everything would work. Now the burneres do not fully light, and of course the fan doesn't come on since there is no demand. Fan works fine when I switch it on. I took out the flame sensor to check it and it seems OK. No corrrosion build up, and it glows red hot. Could it be the flame sensor is shot? Furnace is 20 years old.

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If the burners do not fully ignite, the sensor will shut the furnace down. The lack of sufficient burner flame is a gas valve or gas pressure problem within the valve.
Replacing the gas valve with the original one may get you going. I surely suggest a professional service company for safety reasons and a thorough inspection. A 20 year old furnace is past it's normal life span.

Posted on Jan 06, 2009

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Posted on Jan 02, 2017

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After having him cycle the thermostat a couple dozen times while I watched through the opening in the side of the furnace, I finally figured out what was happening.

First, there were about 6 cast iron burners [about 14 inches long with two rows of gas holes along the length]. These burners were parallel to each other and oriented perpendicular to the long axis of the furnace.

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For those burners who's ends were not covered, and who's gas could not be captured, they would NOT ignite simultaneously with the others.

As these burners WERE feeding gas into the combustion chamber, the gas "envelope" would spread until it reached the nearest flame ignition source, at which time the entire "bubble" of gas would ignite with a minor boom [actually a low energy explosion]. Flame would momentarily shoot out of the burner chamber opening, and from that point the furnace would operate normally until the next restart cycle.

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I am not sure if this helps but I hope it does.

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