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Heater Repair 101: What's The Pilot Light?

As a homeowner, you’re not expected to know everything about your heating system. That’s what the professionals are here for! But it’s still a good idea to have a basic understanding of your heater so that you can recognize when a problem is occurring and call on experts to help you out!

Service Wizard is the leading HVAC repair company in Austin, so we know a thing or two about furnace repair. We also know the most commonly asked questions and misconceptions our homeowners have about their furnaces. Keep reading to get a full understanding of what the pilot light is and how to troubleshoot repairs with your pilot light.

What Is A Pilot Light?

For all gas appliances, a pilot light is a small flame that is used to ignite the gas and start the combustion process. Combustion is needed to produce heat, which in turn warms the air for your home. Older pilot lights used to burn 24 hours a day, waiting for the next use of the furnace. Modern units now have electric pilot lights that light only when the heater is signaled to turn on.

Pilot lights all have a device called a thermocouple built into them. The thermocouple senses heat from the pilot light, making sure the flame is lit. When it senses heat, the gas valve is allowed to open, bringing gas into the combustion chamber. If the thermocouple doesn’t sense heat, it shuts down the main gas valve so that gas doesn’t build up inside the chamber without burning.


If the pilot light goes out or the thermocouple shuts down the system, the pilot light will have to be relit so that the heater can run again.

How To Relight A Pilot Light

Your furnace isn’t turning on or is blowing cold air. You check the furnace and the pilot light is out. What do you do?

  • First, if you are attempting to relight your pilot light, you’ll need a good light source and a long lighter (like the kind you light a barbecue grill with).
  • Next, find the pilot light. There will be a gas valve with ON, OFF and PILOT settings. Turn this valve to the OFF position and wait several minutes for any lingering gas to dissipate.
  • Then, turn the valve to PILOT. Hold the lighter to the pilot opening, and push the reset button on the control panel of the pilot. Keep the button pressed down until the flame is burning strongly.
  • Lastly, set the valve to ON.

If your pilot light won’t stay lit, you’ll need professional help. There are many things that could be causing pilot light problems, from small repairs to replacements. An expert is the best and safest option.

Pilot Light Safety Tips

Any time you are dealing with a gas appliance, use extreme caution. Natural gas and propane are not materials you should underestimate or take lightly. Even if you think you can complete a repair, you never know if a leak or malfunction will happen down the road that puts your home at risk. That’s why it’s always best to have a trained professional take on any further pilot light repairs.

Heater Repairs You Can Count On

Service Wizard has a team of licensed, diligent technicians that know how to safely repair your heater. Not only do we give you the best solutions for your problem, but we also give you peace of mind that your heating unit can operate safely. Contact us today for all your heater repair needs!



Why Choose Service Wizard?

Professional Team
Professional Team
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Reliable Service
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Flexible Financing
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My technician, David, showed up promptly, was very courteous, wore a mask, and did a great job. He also talked me through how I could maintain and clear the drain line clean myself going forward. Service Wizard has earned my loyalty for future service calls!

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We have been customers of Service Wizard for long time. They installed our new more energy-efficient units several years ago and continue to provide service to us. They are pros! The service techs are very knowledgeable and great to interact with. They take the time to explain the service. Great company to do new installs and service the units!!! Very pleased.
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