One of the most frustrating incidences any homeowner can experience during winter is the furnace going out unexpectedly. Luckily, you can resolve this issue by simply re-lighting the furnace. The pilot light is a small flame in old furnaces that ignites burners to light the unit. Modern models use an electric ignition system. Once the pilot light goes off, the furnace will not be able to produce heat. There are several reasons why your pilot light may extinguish. They include dirt build-up, strong draft, and thermocouple malfunction. Here are the basic steps that you can use to re-light your furnace.
1. Begin by Inspecting the Furnace
Before you re-light the furnace light, it’s a good idea to inspect it to ascertain if there is any other problem. Ensure that it’s connected to a power and gas source. Also, check the thermostat batteries. Be wary of gas smells around the unit, which is a sign of a potential gas leak. In such a case, you shouldn’t try to re-light the pilot light. Turn off the unit, open the windows and doors for ventilation, get everybody out of the house, and immediately call a professional.
2. Locate the Pilot Light and Check if It’s Gone Out
Now look for the pilot light, a small burner usually position at the bottom of the unit. You will see a knob labeled “on,” “off,” and “pilot.” Refer to your manufacturer’s manual for a diagram that indicates its location if you can’t see the pilot light. When the pilot light is on, you should be able to see a small flame. If not, it has gone out, and you now need to re-light it.
3. Read the Manufacturer’s Manual
Most furnaces have a label that indicates the instructions on how to re-light the pilot. This will make your work easier. Pay attention to any warnings to avoid damaging your unit. The furnace is usually in darker areas like the basement or garage, so you might need a flashlight to read the instructions. If the printing is so small, faded, and the label is difficult to read, search through the manufacturer’s website or use the alternate instructions below.
4. Get the Right Tools
You will need a flashlight and a long reach lighter for this task. Alternatively, you can use a long-rolled piece of paper if you don’t have a long-handled match. This will help maintain a safe distance between your hand and the igniting pilot light.
5. Turn Off the Furnace
Never attempt to re-light the furnace before turning the pilot light off. Note that the excess gas can cause a fire compromising the safety of your loved ones and your property as well. So, turn the pilot knob to the off settings, then give it about five minutes for the gas to clear away.
6. Relight the Pilot Light
Now it’s time to re-light the furnace. First, find the reset button usually located near the pilot switch. You can refer to the manual for help if you have trouble locating it. Next, turn the knob back to the pilot. While holding the reset button, place the tip of a lit match through the pilot opening. Keep the reset button depressed until the pilot begins to burn brightly. This will help maintain a steady flow of gas to the pilot so that the thermocouple gets hot enough to open the gas valve and keep the furnace running.
Once the pilot begins to burn steadily, release the button. Next, turn the knob to the on position to supply enough gas to the burners. If the burner fails to re-light, try lighting the pilot twice or thrice. Sometimes this happens when the thermocouple fails to get adequately hot. So leave it for some time, repeat the procedure, and depress the knob for about 45 to 60 seconds.
Alternatively, you can use the ignition button if your furnace has one. Press the electric ignition together with the small red button close to it simultaneously. Keep holding the small button for around a minute, and the pilot furnace should re-light.
7. Turn on Your Furnace and Observe It
Turn on your furnace, and set the thermostat accordingly to see if it works. Observe the pilot light and see whether it stays on. Check around the pilot light for any draft that could have caused it to go off. If the flame goes off after a short period, most likely, there is a clog at the opening. In this case, turn off the unit, shut the gas supply, and clean it. If this fails to resolve the issue, you could be dealing with a faulty thermocouple.
Furnaces that run on propane should produce a bluish-green flame, while those using natural gas should have a bright blue flame. A yellow flame means incomplete combustion due to a lack of air. You can correct this by cleaning the pilot tube tip with a wire brush gently. If the flame appears a bit shaky, there could be a breeze blowing to it. Ensure that you properly fit the cover on the combustion chamber, and you can seek professional help with this.
On the other hand, a split flame indicates a dirty pilot tube. You will find a tiny screw on the pilot valve’s surface that you can use to adjust the flame height. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions if you can’t locate the screw.
After trying out all of the above steps and your furnace still fails to re-light, it’s time to call a professional. There may be an underlying issue within your system that caused the pilot light to extinguish. A qualified technician will assess the problem and give the best possible cause of action.
Are You Having Issues With Your Furnace? Consult the Experts
Re-lighting a furnace isn’t an easy task. It requires a basic understanding of the furnace components. Also, if you have to re-light the pilot light often, it means that there is a bigger problem that needs attention. You should never attempt fixing a broken furnace by yourself. All furnace repairs required professional knowledge. An experienced technician will follow safety measures while handling the furnace to prevent more damage. Due to the extensive training and technical know-how, professionals can quickly identify potential problems and fix them right away to avoid furnace malfunctions in the future. You will also get expert advice from the technician on how to improve your unit’s efficiency and troubleshoot minor faults.
Scheduling for regular furnace maintenance can help avoid pilot light issues. During tune-ups, the technician will clean the unit, lubricate moving parts, adjust and check all the essential components to ensure that the furnace operates at optimum capacity. They will also check the furnace burner for correct temperature output to ensure a safe operation.
If the furnace re-lighting process seems somewhat confusing and you need help, you can always reach out to Green Energy Mechanical Inc. We are home comfort experts with qualified specialists who can help you with furnace installation, heat pumps, AC installation, repair, and tune-up services. Our company also deals with commercial HVAC, programmable thermostat, electrical, duct cleaning, and sealing services. We serve the Canton, MA, and the surrounding areas. Call us today or schedule an appointment online.