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Does your furnace have a pilot light? If so, do you know how to light it if you need to? For some furnaces, the pilot light can go out simply with a breeze of air, almost like a candle on a birthday cake. Learning how to light the pilot light safely is important to keep you warm and prevent accidents.

Check the instructions label on your furnace. It should tell you how to light the furnace. If you cannot find the instructions or cannot read them, follow these seven steps to light your pilot light:

  1. Look for a switch at the bottom of the furnace that reads “Pilot,” “On” and “Off.” Turn the switch to “Off.”
  2. IMPORTANT – it is critical to wait at least five minutes, so the gas can dissipate and you don’t accidentally start a fire.
  3. While you wait, locate the “Reset” button near the switch you turned to “Off.” After five minutes have passed, turn the switch to “Pilot.”
  4. Hold down the “Reset” button you located in Step #3.
  5. Take a long lighter flame and bring it to the opening to light the pilot light.
  6. Once you know it’s on, you can release the “Reset” button and turn the switch to “On.”

If your pilot light keeps going out and will not stay lit, it could be due to any of these four issues:

  • Thermocouple issues – The thermocouple detects whether the pilot light is lit or not. If it can’t sense its flame, then it keeps the gas valve from opening to let more gas into the combustion chamber. This is an important safety feature to prevent gas dangerously building up in your home. If your thermocouple is broken, dirty or not properly lined up, then it will not be able to sense the pilot light flame and will turn off all furnace gas flow.
  • Pilot light problems – The pilot light orifice controls the gas flowing to your pilot light and you see a strong, blue flame when there is a strong gas flow. Does your pilot light stay lit briefly but goes out, or does it have a weak, yellow flame instead of blue? Then you have a dirty or restricted pilot light orifice.
  • Old or broken gas regulator – Located at your home’s gas meter, the gas regulator decreases the pressure of natural gas before it comes into your home and gas appliances. An old or broken gas regulator does not allow gas to flow strongly or steadily enough to light it.
  • Bad gas valve – The gas valve brings gas to the pilot light and combustion chamber to allow it to light. If the gas valve has gone bad or is turned off accidentally, the pilot light won’t stay lit.

For each of these issues, you need to contact an HVAC professional to remedy the situation, from inspecting and cleaning dirty parts to replacing worn-out or faulty components. (Check out this blog post for more ways to troubleshoot your home heating system.)

Keith Air Conditioning can address any of these issues for you, so your furnace is back up and running smoothly. We can also discuss replacing your furnace with an electric ignition furnace setup if needed. Contact us today at 251-517-4437 to schedule an appointment.

Want to know more about home heating? Check out this Energy Saver 101 infographic from the U.S. Department of Energy.