furnace flames and hot igniter

Do All Furnaces Have a Pilot Light?

If you’re like a lot of people, you might think that your furnace has a standing pilot light (a small flame that stays constantly lit). After all, it’s what many of us grew up with or have heard about on TV shows. While many older furnaces use pilot lights, newer models tend to use different ignition systems, typically either an intermittent pilot light or a hot surface ignition system.

We’ll explain more about how each of these ignition systems works below.

Standing Pilot Light

If you’ve ever seen an older furnace and notice a small flame that remains lit all the time, that is the pilot light. A standing pilot light must remain lit for the furnace to ignite correctly and “on-demand.”

Because the flame is never supposed to go out, this type of ignition system can be an energy hog when it comes to heating your home. This is the main reason that manufacturers don’t put standing pilot lights in new furnaces.

Could your old furnace use a tune-up? Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our team: Tom's Mechanical, Inc.!

Intermittent Pilot Light

The intermittent pilot light solves the biggest issue with standing pilot lights: it does not have to remain on at all times. Thanks to electronic ignition systems, an intermittent pilot light will only spark and light up when you need to use your furnace. No need to worry about having this pilot light running up your gas bill!

Hot Surface Ignition System

A hot surface ignition system is an electronic ignition system similar to an intermittent pilot light. However, they use a silicon carbide and silicon nitride igniter to heat your furnace.

When you turn on your furnace, a hot surface ignition sends an electrical current to the igniter. The igniter then gets so hot that it allows the gas around it to ignite. Hot surface ignition systems are a fantastic, energy-efficient option compared to older furnaces.

No matter the furnace you have, you should always ensure it has been properly maintained to avoid any issues with the ignition. The last thing you want in the winter is a furnace that fails to start.

If you’re interested in upgrading your old furnace to a more energy-efficient model, our Arlington heating experts can help! Schedule your appointment with Tom's Mechanical, Inc. today at (972) 388-3669 or contact us online.