September 3, 2021
Furnace Pilot Light

If you own a gas heating system, it probably has a pilot light, a small blue flame that ignites the burners to start the heating process. New furnaces use an electric igniter. Once the pilot light goes off, the unit stops circulating hot air leaving you in the cold. There are various reasons why the pilot light extinguishes. They include a strong draft, faulty thermocouple, or dirt build-up on the unit’s openings. Luckily you can resolve this issue by re-lighting the pilot light. The process is relatively easy, but the steps may vary based on the type of heating system you have. Here is the basic procedure that you can use to re-light your furnace safely.

1. Prepare for the Task

You need to make various preparations before lighting up the pilot light. First, gather the right tools for the job. Ensure that you have a long-handled match or lighter and a flashlight. Also, open the windows and doors for ventilation before re-lighting the furnace. Be sure to read through the manufacturer’s manual. If you don’t have one, search for relevant information through the manufacturer’s website. Pay more attention to any warnings and special instructions.

If you fail to follow such guidelines, you might end up damaging your heating system or your home. Most furnaces even have a label that indicates the steps to re-light the pilot light. You will need to carry your spotlight to help read the instructions since the heating unit could be in darker areas like the basement or garage. If your furnace lacks this label or the printing seems too small, use the following steps.

2. Locate the Furnace Pilot Light

After going through the instructions, you should know the location of the pilot light. It’s usually a tiny knob at the bottom of the unit, marked with three indicators, pilot, off, and on. If the pilot light is on, you should see a small candle-like flame. But, if there is no flame, the pilot light might have gone off, and you need to re-light it to get your furnace back into working order. If you notice gas smells, it signifies a potential leak, and you should never attempt to re-light the unit in such a state. Instead, immediately turn off the gas supply, get everybody out of the house, ventilate it and call a qualified technician to assess and fix the issue.

3. Turn off the Gas

Before you attempt to re-light the pilot light, you should put off the furnace. Turn the switch to the off setting to close the valve and halt the gas release. Next, give the unit about five minutes to allow the already emitted gas to clear away from the chamber. Even if your pilot has been off for a while, the furnace continuously runs on gas which accumulates around the unit. So, you should never skip this step. Handling open flame in a gas-filled area can cause a fire leading to property damage or personal injury. Refer to the manufactures instructions if you can’t figure out how to turn off the gas.

4. Find the Reset Button

As you wait for the gas to clear away, look for the reset button, a knob usually near the on and off switch. If you can’t locate it, you can always refer to the user’s manual.

5. Relight the Pilot Light

Once the lingering gas entirely dissipates, you can now safely re-light the pilot. Start by turning the switch to the pilot position. Hold the reset button firmly, then bring a flame close to the pilot opening with a long-handled match. Be careful with this to avoid burning yourself, and you should never attempt to use a regular size match. You need to maintain a safe distance between the flame and your body. If you don’t have a long-reach lighter, you can use a tightly rolled piece of paper.

Keep the reset button depressed to maintain gas flow to the pilot until you achieve a brightly burning flame, then release it. If the pilot light fails to ignite right away, you will need to try re-lighting it twice or thrice. Sometimes it happens when the thermocouple fails to get adequately hot to open the gas valve. On the other hand, if your unit has an ignition button, the re-lighting process is a bit easier. You only need to press the electric ignition and the small red button nearby, which controls gas flow for about a minute, and the pilot should re-light.

6. Turn on the Furnace and Observe It

Once the pilot begins to run continuously, turn the valve to the on settings. This is to ignite the burners and maintain sufficient gas flow. Observe it for a few minutes to ensure that it stays lit. Adjust your thermostat to the desired settings to see how the furnace works. If the pilot light fails to stay lit for long, it could be due to a clogged opening. Turn off the unit, use a piece of fine wire to clean it, then try re-lighting the pilot light to see if it works. Sometimes, there could be drafts around the furnace that extinguish the flame. Some common signs of a draft are flickering or wavering flame. Check for air sources around and fix them. If the pilot light still doesn’t light, there could be a problem with the thermocouple.

When the pilot flame gets hot enough, the thermocouple sensor sends a signal to open up the main gas valve and maintain a consistent supply. So when the thermocouple malfunctions, it limits the gas supply, and the pilot light goes off. Have this checked by a professional? Note that if your furnace runs on propane, it should produce bluish-green and a bright blue flame if it uses natural gas. So if you notice a yellow flame, this signifies incomplete combustion. Mainly, this happens due to dirt accumulation, and you can resolve the issue by cleaning the pilot tube tip. Split flame is also a sign of dirt build-up.

Seek Professional Furnace Services

The most inconvenient thing for any homeowner is a faulty furnace in the middle of the winter. If your pilot light goes off and there is no other underlying condition, you can resolve the issue by reigniting the system. Regular furnace maintenance can also help prevent this issue. During tune-ups, the technician will clean all the parts to ensure that the unit runs efficiently. They will also lubricate moving parts and check electrical connections to ensure smooth and safe operations. After you have tried the above procedure but your furnace won’t re-light, it might be time to seek professional assistance. Also, if you have to re-light your pilot light, often this is a sign of failure. Have a technician assess it, and they may recommend that you upgrade an outdated heating system.

If you aren’t comfortable re-lighting your furnace on your own and need some help, don’t hesitate to contact Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating. We offer reliable heating and cooling services in San Antonio, TX, and the surrounding areas. Our company also handles air duct cleaning, ductless systems, and indoor air quality. Reach out to our team now and request any of our services.

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