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What Is a Pilot Light? How Do You Light It?

a small blue flame inside of a dark furnace

More About This Necessary Component in Your Heating and Cooling System

Have you ever had an issue with a gas appliance not functioning properly or at all? Many people that have had these issues have been told to check the pilot light.

While many newer homes and heating and cooling systems have done away with traditional, gas pilot lights, there are still plenty of homes and units that have them and it is important to know what it is, where to find it, and how to re-light it if needed.

Your St. Louis heating and air conditioning experts have you covered.

What Is A Pilot Light?

A pilot light is a small blue flame that helps fuel a gas appliance. While most modern gas appliances have electric starters or igniters now, older gas appliances still utilize pilot lights and they are very important to keep lit. If the pilot light goes out, the furnace will not be able to produce heat because the burners can not light.

If you have a gas furnace that is not seeming to be functional, the pilot light should be the first thing you check as it is the most common culprit and also the easiest solution.

How To Light a Furnace Pilot Light

Homeowners should know how to light a pilot light in case they ever need to handle the task themselves. Here are the steps to follow to relight your pilot light and bring heat back to your home.

  1. Find the Pilot Light and Reset Switch: The pilot light is usually located at the bottom of the furnace near a control knob. You should see three settings on the control: Pilot, On, and Off. If you are unable to find the pilot light or control knob, there are often instructions posted on the unit or you can refer to an owner’s manual online or on hand.
  2. Set the Switch to “Off”: Stop the flow of gas to the unit by switching the controls to the “off” setting. This should be easy to do with just your hand.
  3. WAIT: Give the furnace one to two minutes to allow the gas to settle in the chamber. You don’t want to have extra gas being used to relight the pilot. That makes the task more dangerous and is also inefficient with resources.
  4. Relight the Pilot Light: Set the control knob to “Pilot” and let gas begin to flow to the pilot. Light a lighter or match and then press the reset button. While holding the reset button, put your flame to the opening of the pilot light. Hold down the reset switch until the pilot light is burning strongly and then release it.
  5. Watch the Furnace: After the pilot light is relit and you have released the reset switch, your furnace should start operating quickly. This doesn’t mean the job is completely finished, however. Watch the pilot light for a few minutes to make sure it stays lit and burns strong.

Pro Tip: The pilot light doesn’t always just go out randomly. Check the surrounding areas of your furnace for any drafts that could catch the pilot or any other sources of strain on the pilot. You don’t want the same thing to knock your pilot light out again.

Safety Tip: When around your furnace, if you smell gas or hear any hissing sounds you may have a gas leak. DO NOT try to relight the pilot light, use a phone, or anything else. Leave the house immediately and call a professional to investigate.

Not Comfortable Getting Down Around Your Furnace? Call the St. Louis Heating and Air Conditioning Experts!

Our team at Meyer Heating & Air is ready to help you get your home back warm this winter when those old pilot lights go out or, even worse, your entire unit. We are the best heating and cooling service provider in St. Louis and we’ll prove it every time we come out, even if it is just relighting your pilot light.

We’re always available, 24 hours a day, seven days a week because we know in St. Louis, heating and air conditioning systems don’t have business hours and we would hate for you to be stuck in the middle of the night with no relief in sight. Call us anytime at (314) 845-1929 and we will be happy to assist. For non-emergencies and other inquiries, reach out online via our website and one of our team members will get in contact with you to address your needs.

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