Today, standing pilot lights—ignition systems that rely on a steady flame at all times during the winter—are no longer in widespread use. Standing pilot lights aren’t used in new manufacturing, and electronic ignition, in which the burners heat up only as needed, has taken over.
Most likely, the reason your furnace won’t ignite does not have to do with the pilot light. If you had a furnace installed in the last couple of decades and you’re experiencing trouble getting it to start up, the ignition system may fail you for one of the following reasons.
- Bad Flame Sensor: The flame sensor is a safety control that senses when there is no flame present, in order to shut off the system and prevent a potential gas leak. If the flame sensor becomes dirty or bent, however, it might detect a missing flame, causing the system to shut off prematurely.
- Not Enough Gas: A clogged gas valve might mean that not enough gas can get to the burners.
- Faulty Ignition Switch: Hot surface ignition involves a material like silicon carbide that gets red hot when it becomes energized with electricity in order to light the burners. The igniter can only last about 3-5 years, but it is relatively simple and inexpensive to replace.
- Tripped Breaker: It could just be that the furnace cannot start up because it has tripped the breaker. You might try resetting the circuit breaker that goes to your furnace. However, if this keeps happening, it’s a sign that there is a problem a technician should address.
Call the furnace experts at AAction Air Conditioning & Heating Co. Inc. for heating system repair and maintenance in the Douglas area. When you work with our talented team, you can always expect to see quality work at a fair price.