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Winter is no time to be without a working furnace. If your home is feeling chillier than usual or it’s been a while since you’ve needed to have your furnace kick on, it’s probably time to check that the pilot light is properly lit. This is a relatively simple task, but it does come with some risk if done incorrectly.

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Don’t get stuck in the cold. Carefully follow these three simple steps to learn how to light a furnace pilot light when needed.

  1. Follow the directions. Even if “you know how to do it already,” every furnace is slightly different and it’s important to do this task correctly. Most furnaces have a sticker or label with step-by-step instructions on how to light the pilot light. If you’re in doubt or the label is illegible, continue reading.
  2. Locate the pilot. The pilot on/off switch is typically near the bottom of the furnace. Even though the pilot isn’t currently lit, you will still need to turn the switch to “OFF” and wait at least 5 full minutes before moving onto the next step. This is extremely important, as it gives gas the time to disperse so as not to create a fire hazard.
  3. Reset the pilot light. After waiting at least 5 minutes, turn the knob to “Pilot” and hold down the Reset button, which should be located next to the main dial. Use a long lighter to bring a flame close to the pilot light opening until the pilot is lit. Once the pilot is lit, let go of the Reset button.

If the furnace doesn’t light within two attempts, one of several factors could be at play. The most common of which are:

  • Faulty thermocouple: Oftentimes, a faulty thermocouple is the culprit for a pilot light that won’t stay lit. The thermocouple uses sensors to detect the pilot light. If these sensors are malfunctioning, it may determine that the pilot light is on when it is actually off, and the other way around. If your thermocouple isn’t functioning properly, your furnace might stay lit for only a few seconds at a time – typically caused by a bent thermocouple.
  • Pilot tube: Another reason for a pilot light not igniting or staying lit could be because of an issue with the pilot tube. If your pilot tube is dirty, it could be preventing gas flow to the pilot, which prevents it from staying lit. Inspect your pilot tube for any signs of buildup or residue. If it looks dirty, turn off the gas and let your furnace cool. Once you have waited an appropriate amount of time, the pilot tube can be cleaned relatively easily.

When to call an HVAC professional

If you’re unsure of the reasoning behind a faulty pilot light, don’t risk a DIY mistake – bring in the HVAC experts at DeZiel Heating & AC. Our team is standing by and ready to help with your heating needs this winter. Call us today at (763) 684-3965.

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