Troubleshooting Tips for Your Furnace Pilot Light

Troubleshooting Tips for Your Furnace Pilot LightWithout a functioning furnace pilot light or ignition system, your furnace won’t run properly. Older furnaces have pilot lights that burn constantly, while newer systems contain electronic ignition systems. Regardless of type, both can get dirty, clog, or simply fail. Getting your system running again usually requires having an HVAC professional diagnose and repair the underlying problem.

Free-Standing Pilot Lights

Since a pilot light operates constantly, a lot of gas ends up running through it. Over time, soot can narrow the orifice of the pilot light, which may extinguish the flame. Your pilot light needs to be cleaned at least once during the heating season to keep a steady flame burning. This is a standard procedure included in annual professional maintenance.

Fortunately, the thermocouple that’s next to all pilot lights turns off almost instantly when the pilot light goes out. When the thermocouple shuts off, it prevents gas from entering the furnace, making it one of the most important safety systems in older furnaces. If the thermocouple shuts the gas supply off with the furnace pilot light still burning, the thermocouple may be dirty.

Electronic Ignition Systems

In electronic ignition systems, the thermostat sends a signal to the furnace to create a small electric spark to ignite the pilot. Or, your system may contain a hot surface igniter. The latter builds heat, much like an old-fashioned incandescent light bulb. Instead of producing light, the ignition part of the system gets hot enough to ignite the gas flowing past it.

If your ignition system uses a spark, your technician will shut the furnace off at the circuit breaker for a few minutes. Many times, simply turning the circuit breaker back on and turning the thermostat up will restart the system. Hot surface igniters occasionally need replacement.

Regardless of whether you have a furnace pilot light or an electronic ignition system, annual maintenance is crucial to keep your whole system running dependably and efficiently. To learn more, contact the pros at Davis Air Conditioning. We provide exceptional HVAC services for Southwestern Oklahoma homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Lawton and Duncan, Oklahoma area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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