A pilot light was invented as a more convenient way to light a gas furnace, water heater or stove without needing to reach for a match every time. The pilot light provides a steady burning flame that will automatically ignite the main burner of a furnace or appliance. When a furnace turns on automatically it releases gas which is lit by the pilot light.
It’s a relatively simple concept. A tiny amount of gas is allowed to flow continuously through a small metal tube to keep a small flame burning. If the pilot goes out, a valve will automatically shut down the flow of gas. This will prevent it from slowly but dangerously filling the inside of a home with gas. The shut-off valve is able to operate without electricity by using something called a thermocouple. One end of the thermocouple is heated by the pilot flame. If the flame goes out, the change in heat causes the thermocouple to react. It then trips the gas valve to close.
Pilot lights were reliable systems in home appliances for many decades. While old-model appliances remain in use today and employ pilot lights, the truth is that this 1920s-era technology is now obsolete.
If you need assistance with an old pilot light system, a certified technician from Aire One Heating and Cooling, serving all over Ontario, can assist you. A common problem is for the thermocouple to wear out, although they are easy for an HVAC technician to replace. Another common problem is for the pilot light to go out for some reason. This, again, is a problem that should be handled by a licensed and trained technician.
If you’re still using an old unit that uses a pilot light, don’t be surprised if you’re advised to upgrade your system. Doing so will save money and provide a higher level of safety for your home. If you have any questions regarding heating or cooling in your home, Aire One Heating and Cooling, with locations all over Ontario, would be happy to help. Contact us today!