Guide to Fixing Major Appliances

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Fixing Pilot Lights and Thermocouples

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. The thermocouple is a safety device that shuts off the gas supply if the pilot light goes out. A damaged thermocouple should be substituted.

Older gas appliances may have pilot lights that offer immediate ignition when the gas is turned on. The pilot light is a small open flame that is supplied by a constant flow of gas.

Issues arise when the gas flow is blocked or misdirected, or when the pilot is blown out. In newer appliances, ignition may be accomplished by a sparking device or a glow bar instead of a pilot light. In furnaces, water heaters, and some ranges and dryers, the pilot light is accompanied by a safety device called a thermocouple, which is a heat sensor that turns the gas off if the pilot flame is extinguished. Newer gas appliances have igniters that start the pilot light as needed.

Warning: Some older appliances may not have a safety device to turn off the gas when the pilot is extinguished. If you detect a strong smell of gas with any gas-fired appliance, do not attempt to relight the pilot or switch on the device or any lights. Leave the house immediately, keeping the door open, and contact the gas company or fire department right away to report a leak.

Pilot Lights

A correctly adjusted pilot flame is constant and blue, and stands between 1/4 and 1/2 inch high. If the flame goes out repeatedly, it may be getting too little air; if it’s yellow at the tip, it’s getting too much air. To correct either condition, turn the pilot adjustment screw slightly, as instructed by the manufacturer. When a pilot goes out, relighting it is simple:

Step 1: If there is a gas valve at the pilot, turn the valve to the OFF position and wait at least three minutes to allow any built-up gas to dissipate. After three minutes, turn the valve to the PILOT position. If there is a safety or reset button, press the button and hold it down.

Step 2: Hold a lighted match to the pilot orifice and turn the gas valve to the ON position. Then, when the pilot is burning brightly, release the reset button. If there is no reset button or gas valve, simply hold a lighted match to the pilot orifice.

Step 3: If the pilot flame won’t stay lit after several attempts, it should be adjusted by a professional. Do not attempt to adjust the mechanism or tamper with the gas line.

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. To adjust the pilot flame, turn the adjustment screw on the gas line, as directed by the range manufacturer.


If the appliance has a thermocouple, the issue may be a damaged thermocouple. The thermocouple, which functions as a safety device, turns off the gas supply when the pilot light goes out. It comprises a heat sensor connected to a solenoid. When the sensor is not heated by the pilot flame, the solenoid closes the gas supply line. When a thermocouple fails, the pilot light won’t stay lit. A burnt-out or broken thermocouple should be replaced. To replace a thermocouple:

Step 1: Unscrew the copper lead and the connection nut inside the threaded connection to the gas line.

To replace a thermocouple in a gas appliance, start by unscrewing the bracket nut that holds the tube in place. Then, insert the new thermocouple into the hole in the bracket with the steel tube facing up and the copper lead facing down. Screw the bracket nut over the tube and push the connection nut to the threaded connection where the copper lead connects to the gas line. Ensure that the connection is clean and dry before tightening the nut into place, being careful not to overtighten it. Finally, in the last section, we will discuss motor maintenance and repair, an essential component of any machine. Read on to learn more.


1. What are some common major appliances that require repair?

Major appliances include refrigerators, ovens, stoves, dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers. These appliances are essential for daily living, and when they break down, it can be frustrating and inconvenient.

2. What are some signs that an appliance needs repair?

Some common signs that an appliance needs repair include strange noises, leaks, erratic behavior, and failure to start. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to have the appliance inspected as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

3. Can I repair my appliance myself?

It’s possible to repair some minor appliance issues yourself, such as replacing a light bulb or cleaning the lint trap in your dryer. However, for more complex issues, it’s best to hire a professional to avoid causing further damage or risking injury.

4. How do I find a reliable appliance repair company?

Research appliance repair companies online and read reviews from past customers. Look for companies that have a good reputation, are licensed and insured, and offer warranties on their work.

5. How long does it take to repair an appliance?

The time it takes to repair an appliance depends on the type of repair needed and the availability of parts. Some repairs can be done in a few hours, while others may take several days if parts need to be ordered.

6. Is it more cost-effective to repair an appliance or replace it?

This depends on the age of the appliance, the cost of the repair, and the cost of a new appliance. In general, if the appliance is less than 5 years old and the repair cost is less than half the cost of a new appliance, it’s usually more cost-effective to repair it.

7. What should I do if my appliance is still under warranty?

If your appliance is still under warranty, contact the manufacturer or the retailer where you purchased it to request a repair. The warranty may cover the cost of the repair or replacement of the appliance.

8. How often should I have my appliances serviced?

It’s recommended to have your appliances serviced once a year to prevent major breakdowns and extend the life of the appliance. Regular maintenance can also improve the appliance’s energy efficiency and save you money on your utility bill.

9. Can I prevent appliance breakdowns?

You can prevent appliance breakdowns by following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, cleaning the appliance regularly, using it properly, and avoiding overloading it.

10. What should I do if my appliance breaks down during a holiday or weekend?

Many appliance repair companies offer emergency services on weekends and holidays. Contact the company as soon as possible to request a repair and avoid further damage to the appliance.

11. What if I can’t afford to repair or replace my appliance?

If you can’t afford to repair or replace your appliance, you may be eligible for assistance through government programs, non-profit organizations, or community resources. Contact your local social services office for more information.

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