The majority of your home’s furnace maintenance should be handled by a qualified HVAC technician. This is essential for keeping your manufacturer’s warranty intact and for ensuring optimum levels of safety. However, if your pilot light ever goes out, this is a minor issue that you should be able to handle on your own. With the information that follows, you can quickly troubleshoot this common problem to get the heat back on in your Wichita, KS, home.
Quick Steps to Take Before Getting Started
Before troubleshooting any home furnace issue, spend some time getting familiar with your owner’s manual. Although you can access a number of general troubleshooting tips online, it’s always best to follow the guidelines and instructions that are specific to your furnace model. Keep this manual handy throughout the entirety of this process and refer back to it as needed. If you’ve lost your manual or never had one, search the web for a digital copy. You can also request a new manual from your furnace manufacturer.
When it comes to finding your pilot light, accessing it, and relighting it, this guide will always be the best source of information. Most manuals also include detailed images or drawings that can make finding the access door to the pilot light and the reset button a lot easier. You should also have a good flashlight or a battery-powered work light on hand and a functional lighter. Although you can light your pilot light with matches, you’ll need one of your hands free to depress the reset button. It’s also important to turn your furnace off at the thermostat and at the breaker before getting started.
Find the Pilot Light’s Reset Switch
There’s a steady flow of gas to your pilot light. Simply lighting a match and holding it up to the pilot is hardly a good idea. You’ll need to start by finding the reset switch for the pilot light and then toggling it to the “off” position. This will stop the flow of gas and give all existing gas ample opportunity to dissipate. Once you’ve located the reset switch, push it in and turn it off. Then, wait at least two full minutes before taking any other actions.
Once you’ve waited the necessary amount of time, go ahead and turn the reset switch to the “on” position. You’ll need to keep the switch depressed while you relight the pilot. After the pilot has been successfully relit, continue holding the reset switch in its depressed position until the flame holds steady. When you let the reset switch go, the pilot light should stay on without flickering or sputtering. If it does not, start over and try the whole thing again. Remember to wait approximately two minutes before moving it from the “off” position to the “on” position and before attempting to relight the pilot once more. The excess gas must fully dissipate before each try.
Understanding Why Your Pilot Light Went Off
Sometimes furnaces are installed in spaces that make the pilot light prone to going out. Depending on the area in which your furnace is located, even forcefully shutting a nearby door can blow the pilot light out. If your furnace happens to be in a drafty garage or basement, you may find yourself relighting the pilot several times each winter.
Whenever pilot lights regularly go out, it’s important to have your furnace inspected. Even though basement drafts may be the culprit, this could also be a sign of a much bigger problem and even a potentially dangerous one. The pilot light and the flow of gas to this component are regulated by the unit’s thermocouple. This is a tiny rod that makes contact with the pilot light flame to detect gas. When the pilot light goes out, the thermocouple stops or blocks gas flow so that gas leaks don’t occur. In like fashion, whenever there are issues with the thermocouple, the pilot light won’t stay lit. You may have a bent or broken thermocouple, or this component could be coated in a thick layer of dust or soot. Having a licensed HVAC technician determine exactly why your pilot light won’t stay lit is important for ruling out common pilot light hazards.
Testing the Pilot Light
After you’ve successfully relit your pilot light and have gotten the flame to hold, your work isn’t done. You’ll need to test the pilot light by turning on the heater at the circuit breaker and then turning the heat on at the thermostat. Wait until your heater kicks into action, and then take a quick look to ensure that the pilot is still lit. If your pilot light continues to go out, schedule maintenance and repair services right away.
How to Avoid Recurring Problems With Your Pilot Light
Every home furnace should receive comprehensive maintenance service from a qualified HVAC company at least once each year. During these visits, all internal and external components are inspected, tested, cleaned, and calibrated as necessary. Annual maintenance services are important for ensuring that your manufacturer warranty doesn’t get voided and for keeping your furnace in excellent condition. Scheduling these visits is also a great way to ensure that your thermocouple is never covered in an excessive amount of dirt, soot, or other debris. If the thermocouple is bent or sustains any other wear or age-related damage, it can be replaced by your maintenance technician before it starts causing problems at the pilot.
Routine maintenance is additionally an opportunity for HVAC technicians to verify that no gas leaks exist. By having your furnace regularly and professionally maintained, you can avoid a number of common hazards and frustrating pilot light problems. However, if your pilot light is getting blown out by a fast-swinging our hard-closing door, you may need to make alterations to the door. Upgrading to slow-closing of soft-closing hinges or encouraging building residents to shut the basement door gently can make all the difference. Moreover, if your furnace is situated in a drafty room, talk with a trusted HVAC company about strategies for improving its location. When furnaces are installed in drafty basements or attached garages, sealing up all gaps and cracks in building materials can be incredibly beneficial. This will both prevent the pilot light from being blown out and prevent costly heat loss.
At Fahnestock, we’ve been providing reliable plumbing, heating, cooling, and electric services to residents of the greater Wichita, KS, area since 1946. We are BBB A+ rated with a full slate of NATE-certified technicians. We also provide humidifiers and effective indoor air quality solutions. If you need help relighting your furnace’s pilot light, call us. We’ll do it for you and show you how to safely do it on your own in the future. Call us today to schedule a service visit or to find out more about the many services and products we supply.