Life doesn't come with a reset button, but many of the appliances throughout your home are likely to have one. This includes your oil-fired furnace, whose reset button can usually be found on the oil burner portion of the furnace. It's also one of the first places to check if your oil furnace suddenly stops working. Read on to learn more about how the reset button works and the appropriate times to press it.
What It Does
Think of the reset button the same way you would a circuit breaker in your home's electrical panel. In essence, it's a safety device that's triggered whenever there's a problem with your oil furnace. The button itself is connected to a light sensor that monitors the burner flame. If the flame goes out, the light sensor triggers the reset button and the furnace shuts down automatically.
Once the reset button is triggered, you'll need to press the button to get your system back up and running - hopefully after you've done a little troubleshooting to pinpoint the problem at the heart of the shutdown.
What Causes It to Trip
Oil furnaces can shut down unexpectedly for a number of reasons, but the most common cause is usually a lack of fuel. Running out of heating oil can trigger a furnace shutdown. A closed oil valve can also have the same effect. If you haven't primed your fuel pump properly after refueling, the resulting air in the fuel line can also cause a shutdown.
Other issues, including loose electrical connections, a bad fuel pump, faulty igniters and even water in the oil tank, can also cause the reset button to trip and your furnace to shut down unexpectedly.
When to Press It
If your oil furnace shuts down, you'll want to press the reset button after performing a brief check of your furnace. Make sure that it has plenty of fuel and that all electrical connections are tight and undamaged. On most furnaces, the reset button will physically pop up when triggered.
If the reset button pops up again or your furnace fails to start afterward, you'll want to have a seasoned HVAC professional take a closer look at your oil furnace. The last thing you'll want to do, however, is press the reset button more than once. Pressing it multiple times can cause the oil burner chamber to flood with heating oil. Excess oil could lead to explosive combustion once the furnace is finally started.