Pilot lights go out from time to time, and it generally isn’t a cause for major concern. It is, however, important to have a professional take a look at your furnace to figure out what is causing it to extinguish and relight it for you. Should your pilot light continuously go out or simply not relight at all, that could be an indication something is potentially wrong.

Instructions for relighting your pilot light are typically on the access panel of your unit, and it is a fairly simple process. You will be working with gas, however, so it is best to leave this type of work to a professional. Once a trained professional has walked you through the process and made sure there is no sign of a bigger problem, you can consult with them about reigniting the pilot light on your own in the future.

What Is a Pilot Light?

If you have an older furnace, it is typically equipped with what’s known as a pilot light. This is a small flame that generally runs blue, utilized for igniting the natural gas that is going into your unit’s main burner. With your furnace engaged to heat your home, gas releases through a valve, providing heat when ignited by coming into contact with the pilot light.

The pilot light utilizes natural gas, which comes in a small tube. There is a safety mechanism, called a thermocouple, that prohibits the flow of gas if it’s detected that the pilot light has gone out.

Reasons a Pilot Light Would Go Out

There are several reasons a pilot light could go out. Some of the reasons are minor and dealt with easily, while others take more involvement. It is important that a professional has a look at your furnace to determine what the reason actually is.

Reasons why a pilot light could go out include:

  • Air flow issues
  • Gas is shut off
  • Furnace needs cleaning
  • Issue with the thermocouple

Airflow issues can be attributable to things like a gust of wind or a leaking furnace duct. Another potential cause is a chimney or flue that is incorrectly sized, damaged, or not installed properly. All of these possibilities could be responsible for blowing out your pilot light. A professional can assess if any of these airflow issues are causing your pilot light to go out.

Shut-off gas can also be a reason why your pilot light has gone out since your pilot light is reliant on natural gas to stay lit.

If the opening in the gas pipe that fuels your pilot light has gotten dirty, this can have an effect on how well your pilot light is working. It might not be receiving enough fuel to stay lit. A good indicator of this is the color of the flame. If it is burning blue, then it is receiving the proper amount of fuel. When the flame is burning yellow or red, this means your pilot light is not getting enough gas. Regular cleaning of your furnace by a professional can minimize the chances of this happening.

A pilot light going out can also be due to a thermocouple issue. This can happen when your thermocouple is faulty or loose. If this is the case, your thermocouple will need replacement or adjusting.

Steps for Restarting Your Pilot Light

1. Turn Off Your Furnace

It is imperative that the first step taken is to shut off your furnace completely before making an attempt to reignite your pilot light. Failing to turn the furnace off first could potentially lead to home damage or even bodily harm. Even after your furnace has been completely shut off, a good rule of thumb to follow for safety is to wait five minutes before attempting to reignite the pilot.

2. Locate the Relevant Mechanisms

After your furnace is off, you will want to locate both your gas valve and your pilot light button. These are both generally located towards the bottom of your furnace. At this point, you will want to make sure you set the gas valve to the “Pilot” position and that you are in a comfortable spot to be able to press the red pilot light button.

3. Reignite the Pilot Light

Whether your pilot light is manual or automatic will determine how you light it. An automatic pilot light requires that you simply press the red button, while a manual one necessitates that you use an external source of flame. Manual pilot lights often require that you open a panel to access them. If you have a manual pilot light, you will want a long-handled match or lighter. You will be familiar with these as the kind you use when you light up the family barbeque. If your pilot light is manual and you do not have this type of match or lighter, you can use pliers to hold a lit wooden match, being sure to stay a safe distance from the flame.

For a manual pilot light, you will now light the orifice while pressing the red button. Once ignited, take your flame source away from the orifice while keeping the button pressed down for about a minute. After a minute has passed, let go of the button, and it should remain lit.

Finally, turn the gas valve to the “On” position and turn your furnace back on. If you had to get to your pilot light by opening a panel, be sure to close it.

Remember, while reigniting a pilot light can be a simple process, you are dealing with dangerous gas. It is always best to deal with a trained professional when servicing your home furnace.

Meade’s Heating and Air provides furnace service to the Sterling, VA, community, as well as throughout Northern Virginia. Our trustworthy team will make sure that your furnace is working properly and efficiently in order to keep you and your loved ones warm and safe during the cold Virginia winters. Not only can we make sure your pilot light is working correctly, but we can also provide routine maintenance, handle any of your heating or cooling needs, and even provide installation services. When a member of our service team comes out to your home, you are being looked after by an expert in the field who is familiar with all heating system makes and models. We will provide exemplary customer service, cost-effective solutions, and the highest standard of care.

Making sure that your equipment is running safely and efficiently is a top priority for us. If your pilot light has gone out, leave it to the professionals to determine what the issue is, so that you and your loved ones can feel secure that the service done on your furnace is correct. Reach out to Meade’s Heating and Air, and we will have one of our expert technicians out to you in no time to make sure that your furnace is back up and running.

Meade's Heating and Air

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