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How Do You Know if Your Pilot Light Is Working or Out?

If your gas furnace suddenly kicks off, you may be wondering: why is my pilot light not coming on? For homeowners who do not have a lot of knowledge about furnaces, you may be wondering what a pilot light is or how to check if it’s working properly.

That is why it is beneficial to consult heating technicians who can help you find the pilot light on your furnace’s specific model and make sure everything is working as it should.

Need help troubleshooting a pilot light in your gas furnace? Reach out to the furnace and heating experts at GAC Services now!

What Is the Pilot Light & What Does It Do?water heater pilot light

Before you can understand how something works and, thus, how to care for it, you need to know what the thing actually is in the first place. Luckily, any pilot light, be it in a furnace or a water heater, is actually a fairly simple component. In essence, the pilot is responsible for combusting your fuel source.

In an older system, the heating system pushed fuel into the combustion chamber, where it waited to be ignited; this was the pilot’s job. When the pilot lit, it used a small gas supply of its own that contacted the igniter on the pilot. This lit it, supplying the flame to combust fuel and heat your home.

In more modern applications, pilots have either been replaced or changed to an electric control system that handles the operation of the pilot on its own, eliminating the need for manual relighting if the flame goes out. Because of this difference, we’ll be splitting our explanation up into parts.

How Do I Know if My Pilot Light Is Out?

If your home uses an older furnace system equipped with a pilot, then checking it is actually fairly simple. Just follow these steps:

To check your furnace’s pilot, begin by taking off the front cover panel. This will expose the pilot, which looks like a small single burner, similar to a candle or a solitary gas stove flame. If you find no flame at all, the pilot is out.

If you do notice a flame, but it appears weak or shows an unusual color, it could signify a clogged burner assembly. To fix the issue, the burner will need to be thoroughly cleaned. An abnormal flame color looks like anything other than the typical blue or, for a propane burner, a blue-green hue.

To relight the pilot, you’ll need to hold down the knob that controls the gas flow, which should be nearby. Simply depress the value for roughly 20 seconds, then use a long match to relight the flame.

Handling an Electric Heater Pilot Light

An electrical pilot is actually far simpler, as all you’ll need to do is either depress the knob or flip a switch, depending on the furnace model. Within the next half-minute, the pilot should resume normal operation. If it doesn’t, then you’ll want to call a furnace specialist to handle the issue.

Is It Dangerous if The Pilot Light Goes Out?

The worry here is that when a pilot goes out, the gas valve that supplies the fuel for the pilot flame could still be pumping gas. This can mean a buildup of gas, and when the pilot is relit or relights itself, it could result in a very serious explosion.

However, this is much less of a scare in modern days. All furnaces made within the last 20 years or so are typically equipped with a failsafe electrical shut-off valve. This valve operates automatically and shuts off gas flow as soon as the pilot goes out, preventing any risks of excessive gas buildup.

That said, even the failsafe system can malfunction, so any time your pilot is out, be sure to carefully check for any strong gas odors, like the scent of sulfur or rotten eggs. If your furnace smells like any of these scents, do not attempt to relight the pilot if you notice a gas smell. Instead, get help immediately and leave the premises.

Call Our Experienced Technicians if Your Pilot Light Is Out

Are you worried about your pilot light, or do you need help getting it relit and operating safely again? Handling a gas- or oil-fueled system can be scary for anyone, especially if you don’t have the proper experience. No matter your needs, our experienced technicians from GAC Services are here to help!

If your heater pilot light went out and you don’t know how to inspect it or relight it, turn to our team at GAC Services for fast and reliable service. We’ll quickly locate your pilot light and ensure your heating unit is working properly.

Contact us today or call our main office at (301) 835-1095 when you need to relight your furnace’s pilot light in the Gaithersburg, Maryland area.

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