A Comprehensive Guide to Pilot Lights and How to Fix Them

A Comprehensive Guide to Pilot Lights and How to Fix Them

Most modern gas water heaters and furnaces utilize electronic ignition to start the main burner. However, some still employ a pilot light system. In a standing pilot ignition setup, a small flame remains continuously lit. When heat is required, this pilot light ignites the gas.

However, pilot lights can often go out as well, thereby hindering the proper functioning of your appliance.

In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of pilot lights and explore ways to fix such unwanted glitches.

What is a Pilot Light?

For those wondering what is a pilot light, it is a tiny gas flame for lighting burners on appliances. It is also commonly known as a gas flame or a pilot flame.

First things first, you must know how to turn on the pilot light. You need to simply rotate the knob located at the stove front clockwise and then press it in. The knob remains in this position and allows you to regulate flame brightness.

You can also remove the glass covering of the burner and light the flame using a lighter or a match.

The Main Parts of A Pilot Light

The essential parts of a pilot light are—

  1. Pilot Tube or Gas Line: This is a small pipe or tube that carries a controlled flow of gas from the main gas supply to the pilot light assembly.
  2. Burner: The pilot burner is where the gas from the pilot tube is released.
  3. Thermocouple: The thermocouple is a safety device located near the pilot flame. It has two different types of metal wires connected at one end. When heated by the pilot flame, the thermocouple generates a small electric voltage as a signal to keep the gas valve open. If the pilot light goes out, the voltage drops, causing the gas valve to shut off.
  4. Gas Control Valve: This valve controls the flow of gas to the pilot burner. It is often controlled by a knob or button that allows you to turn the pilot light on and off.
  5. Adjustment Screw or Nut: Some pilot assemblies have an adjustment screw or nut that allows you to fine-tune the size and intensity of the pilot flame.
  6. Igniter: In some pilot light systems, there's an igniter or a push-button or trigger mechanism that generates a spark to ignite the pilot flame without the need for matches or a separate ignition source.

When Is the Pilot Light Out?

The next question you should be asking is how to know if your pilot light is out. If, for example, water refuses to heat even after you have turned on the hot water, it indicates that the pilot light of your water heater is out. Another indication of a pilot light glitch is your furnace not turning on even when the indoor temperature falls below your thermostat settings.

To be sure, you need to know how to check a pilot light. Use a flashlight to check for pilot light assembly under the water heater or furnace. You will find a valve named ‘pilot’. There should also be ‘on’ and ‘off’ options and a tiny blue flame should be visible. In case you have located the valve but there is no flame, it means that the pilot light has gone out.

What Makes the Pilot Light Go Out?

Several factors can cause pilot lights to glitch. These include—

  • Damaged or dirty thermocouple
  • Dirt accumulation at the pilot port opening
  • Strong draft or wind snuffing off the light

Relighting a Pilot Light

Once the flame goes out, you need to know how to relight a pilot light. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Turn off the gas regulator valve and wait for five minutes for the gas to dissipate.
  2. Detect the pilot burner and remove the glass cover, if any.
  3. Put the gas valve in the ‘pilot’ position and hold it there.
  4. If your appliance has an ‘ignition’ button, push it now.
  5. If there is no ignition button, use a match or lighter to relight the pilot.
  6. For at least a minute after relighting the flame, continue to hold the gas valve in the ‘pilot’ position.
  7. Let go of the gas valve slowly. If the pilot continues to remain lit, turn the valve to the ‘on’ position.
  8. Wait for a while to ensure that the appliance continues to function.

You need to contact an expert if these steps fail to reignite the pilot light.

Buy The Best Quality Pilot Lights at The Schneider Electric E-shop

If you have further queries regarding pilot lights or require assistance regarding other electrical concerns, Schneider Electric is your one-stop destination. Schneider Electric has been a trusted name for high-quality electrical equipment and offers a plethora of solutions at affordable prices. From switches, home automation systems, and protective devices to pilot lights, home security systems, and controllers, the Schneider Electric eShop has it all! Visit the website today to browse through the products and find what you need.

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