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Commonly Reported HVAC Problems:

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My pilot light goes out:

Gas water heater pilot burner and thermocouple drawing

Pilot lights do go out occasionally. But if your pilot light goes out more than once per season, this could indicate a problem. Some people even shut them off for the summer. Every homeowner should know how to light his or her pilot. It isn't too difficult and there are usually instructions printed on the equipment itself. (Sometimes on the back of the furnace door.)

* Keep in mind, the instructions below are for standing-pilot systems only! Most of today's systems no longer have a pilot light, they use a spark ignitor or electronic ignition.

Pilot Light Instruction Guide:

Always follow instructions on the appliance before anything else.

Gas water heater pilot light
  1. Turn off furnace, boiler, or water heater at thermostat or power switch.
  2. Locate the gas valve and turn knob from on or off (depending where it was) to pilot position.
  3. Hold down red button, which sends gas to the pilot burner.
  4. At the same time hold match to pilot burner. (Just follow the small pilot tubing to end.) Sometimes a long match is needed, you can use needle nose pliers to hold match.
  5. On some equipment, you may need to move a small metal door or panel for access.
  6. Light the pilot but do not let go of button.
  7. Continue holding button for 60 seconds.
  8. Now let go of button, pilot should stay lit.
  9. If not, you need to call for service.
  10. Turn gas valve knob back to the on position.
  11. Turn on appliance, turn up thermostat, main gas should light.
  12. Remember to put back metal cover if your system had one.

Below is a list of possible causes. Items in red usually require a service call. Items in blue however can be addressed, some even fixed by the homeowner.


Red = Professional fix | Blue = Homeowner fix

  • Bad or loose thermocouple
  • Bad gas valve
  • Poor pilot flame - low gas pressure or blocked orifice
  • High winds or downdraft
  • Badly cracked heat exchanger
  • Improper venting; flue or chimney problems
  • Gas is shut off or out of propane

Please keep in mind that the information found on our website is provided free of charge and Hannabery HVAC does not assume any liability resulting from the information we provide. We hope this information helps, but please note that these are just rough guidelines, and not all possible situations are covered. Your HVAC system should be inspected and repaired by a trained technician.

Commonly Reported HVAC Problems

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