Why Does My Furnace Pilot Light Keep Going Out? Vital Tips

Why Does My Furnace Pilot Light Keep Going Out

Key Takeaways

  • The issue of pilot light problems is one of the common problems with gas appliances, such as furnaces and water heaters. 
  • Sealing air leaks can save you up to 30% on energy bills! The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) states this. It also improves air quality, keeps toxins out, and lengthens the life of your furnace.
  • Always double-check everything before calling technicians so you don’t waste their time or your money.
  • Energy.gov states that by cleaning debris from furnace air filters, energy efficiency can increase by 5-15%.

Common Reasons for Pilot Lights Going Out

Why Does My Furnace Pilot Light Keep Going Out

The issue of pilot light problems is one of the common problems with gas appliances, such as furnaces and water heaters. The pilot light can keep going out due to various reasons. One of the typical reasons is a dirty pilot opening, which can block the flow of gas and prevent the proper functioning of the pilot light.

Another reason is a faulty thermocouple or a flame sensor, which is a safety device that detects the pilot flame and prevents gas flow if the flame is not burning properly. If the pilot light flame is weak, it is a sign of a malfunctioning gas regulator or a bad gas valve.

Moreover, a yellow pilot light flame is an indication that the gas flow is not right, and it could be a safety mechanism preventing ignition or a result of a dirty pilot opening. On the other hand, a blue pilot light flame is the right color for perfect ignition.

To fix the pilot light problem, 

  • Look for the source of the issue. 
  • The next step is to clean the area around the pilot orifice and position it correctly. 
  • Check the draft to ensure it is enough for combustion and the air venting is right.

A unique detail about the pilot light is that it is often related to the carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning issue. A malfunctioning gas appliance can produce CO gas, which is a silent killer. In my HVAC experience of over ten years, I have come across many cases of pilot light problems, and I can say that regular cleaning and maintenance of the pilot light, control valve, and heat exchanger is advisable. 

Overall, understanding the common reasons and working on them will ensure the proper and safe functioning of your gas appliance. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s manual and contact the utility company or a professional for help if necessary. 

If a dirty pilot opening is your problem, the solution is simple: grab a Q-tip, not a martini, and give it a good clean.

Dirty Pilot Opening of Unit

The pilot light of your gas appliance might go out because of a dirty pilot opening. Over time, dirt and debris can build up around the pilot opening and block the gas flow. To fix this, turn off your gas supply and clean the area around the pilot opening with a soft-bristled brush or compressed air. Then, relight the pilot light.

However, if the pilot light continues to go out after cleaning, it could be an indication of a more serious problem. In this case, contact a professional technician for help.

Regular maintenance of your gas appliance can help keep dirt and debris away, so you don’t have to deal with pilot light issues in the future. If your thermocouple is bad, it’ll turn the pilot light off at the first sign of trouble.

Bad Thermocouple of Furnace

If your pilot light keeps going out, it could be a bad thermocouple. This component senses the heat from the pilot and sends a signal to keep the gas valve open. Here are four points to help you understand:

  • A bad thermocouple can make the pilot go out or fail to stay lit.
  • Aging, dirt, or misalignment can cause a thermocouple to malfunction.
  • If you think the thermocouple is faulty, get a professional technician to check it and repair/replace it.
  • Regular maintenance of heating/cooling units can help prevent issues with the thermocouple.

Other factors can be behind the pilot shutting off, not just the thermocouple. Don’t DIY repairs for complex systems. Always get qualified help for inspections and repairs.

Malfunctioning Gas Valve of Furnace

A faulty gas valve is often the culprit when your pilot light goes out. It can stop gas from getting to the light, for different reasons. One could be it’s dirty or corroded, blocking the gas flow. Another could be the thermocouple, which detects if the light has ignited right, isn’t working.

To keep your pilot light on, keep the valve and area around it clean and free of debris. You could also replace the thermocouple if it’s worn out. This will help your heating system stay safe and efficient. 

Pilot light problems? Weak is the new whack-a-mole – always suspect a faulty gas valve.

Weak Pilot Flame of Furnace

A weak pilot light can cause problems with your appliance. It may flicker or be hard to light. This can be due to dirt, clogs, low gas pressure, or worn-out parts.

  • To fix this, examine the pilot assembly for dirt or debris. 
  • Check the gas pressure, and make sure the thermocouple is close to the body. 
  • Clean any buildup of soot or residue on the burner. 
  • Regular cleaning will keep a strong flame and protect your device for longer.

These tips will help your furnace work smoothly and efficiently all year round. Plus, you’ll avoid expensive repairs thanks to a strong pilot light. 

If the wind keeps blowing out your pilot light, perhaps you should get a windbreaker for it!

Drafts or Venting Issues in Furnace

A draft or venting issue can cause the pilot light to go out. Air from windows, doors, or fans can blow the fire away. Plus, blocked ducts can create toxic gas, making the furnace switch off for safety. So, check those vents! If you don’t, you’ll waste money and time.

Did you know? Sealing air leaks can save you up to 30% on energy bills! The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) states this. It also improves air quality, keeps toxins out, and lengthens the life of your furnace. Plus, you get better air circulation and comfort.

Ah, when the pilot light goes out – it’s like a bad breakup. You’re stuck in the dark with no explanation.

Troubleshooting Pilot Light Issues In Furnaces

A common issue that many homeowners face is a pilot light that keeps going out on their furnace or water heater. To address this problem, there are a few troubleshooting steps that can be taken to help resolve the issue.

  1. Check for Air Flow and Gas Supply: 

The first step is to check for proper airflow and gas supply. Ensure that the pilot opening is clear of dirt or other debris and that the gas supply is flowing properly. If the gas supply is weak, it could be a result of a bad gas regulator or gas valve, which will require professional attention.

  1. Check the Thermocouple and Flame Sensor:

If the airflow and gas supply is adequate, the next step is to check the thermocouple or flame sensor. This is a safety device that ensures the pilot light remains lit. If the thermocouple or flame sensor is malfunctioning, it will need to be replaced.

  1. Check the Pilot Orifice and Gas Valve:

If the pilot opening and safety devices check out, the pilot orifice and gas valve should be inspected. Over time, these components can become dirty and clogged, which can prevent the pilot light from staying lit. Cleaning these parts or replacing them may be necessary.

It is important to address pilot light problems promptly to prevent issues with the heating system and the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning. If these troubleshooting steps do not resolve the issue, it is best to call a professional HVAC technician for assistance.

In addition to the troubleshooting steps, it is important to understand the setting and position of the pilot light flame. The flame should be a strong blue color, rather than a weak or yellow flame. Also, ensure that there is no draft or wind blowing on the pilot light as this can cause it to go out.

A similar experience happened to a friend of mine. They had noticed that their furnace was not heating their home properly and that the pilot light kept going out. They tried relighting it several times but it would go out after a few seconds. After calling a professional, they found out that a copper rod needed to be replaced, which was causing the malfunction. Fortunately, the issue was resolved quickly and their home was warm and safe once again.

If your furnace pilot light keeps going out, check for enough gas supply – because nothing says ‘winter wonderland’ like a cold house.

  1. Check for Enough Gas Supply to the Furnace

It’s important to ensure your pilot light functions properly. To do this, you should check the gas supply. Here’s a five-step process:

  • Shut off the gas valve. Wait a few minutes.
  • Take off the cover and find the gas supply tube.
  • Use a wrench to loosen the nut connecting the tube to the gas valve.
  • Clean the connection with a tissue and soapy water.
  • Tighten the nut and turn on the gas valve. Light the pilot flame and you’re done!

Only do this if you’re confident in your abilities. If not, call a professional. Low gas levels might be caused by a faulty regulator or a main line issue. Check all connections before attempting repairs.

Energy.gov states that if the pilot light goes out or flickers excessively after being lit, it could be a problem with the furnace’s thermocouple. A clogged pilot orifice can really mess up your hot water supply, like a clogged sink.

  1. Check the Pilot Orifice of the Furnace

It’s essential to check the Pilot Orifice when troubleshooting a malfunctioning Pilot Light. This is because a blocked orifice can cause the Pilot Light to switch off, impacting your heating system’s efficiency. Here’s a 6-step guide:

  • Turn off the gas and power supply.
  • Find orifice: Check the manufacturer’s manual or at the end of a small tube in line with your furnace’s gas valve outlet.
  • Remove: Use a wrench and inspect it.
  • Clean: Use compressed air or soak in vinegar overnight.
  • Reinstall: Put back, not too tight!
  • Restart: Follow manufacturer guidelines for lighting and check everything works.

Remember to check other possible causes for malfunctioning Pilots, e.g. thermocouple issues. Inspect Pilot Orifice every few months, even if nothing seems wrong. Before blaming the Pilot Light, make sure your gas control valve isn’t playing up.

  1. Check the Gas Control Valve of the Furnace

Troubleshooting the pilot light can be a hassle. But if you make sure the gas control knob is in the right spot, it could solve the issue. Here’s a guide:

  • Find the gas control valve, which is usually on the bottom of the unit.
  • Turn it clockwise to check if it’s on.
  • If it’s already on, turn it off and wait a few minutes before switching back on.
  • If that doesn’t work, look at the manufacturer’s instructions and reset the valve following their directions.
  • If that still doesn’t work, call a professional technician.

Remember, each unit’s manufacturer might have different instructions. So make sure to read the steps carefully to avoid making matters worse.

If you don’t smell any gas or something smells weird, call a technician right away. Always double-check everything before calling technicians so you don’t waste their time or your money.

And if you can’t find the access panel, it might be time to call for help. Don’t be embarrassed!

  1. Check for Access Panel and Safety Device Issues

Troubleshooting your pilot light? It’s important to check the access panel and safety devices for problems. Here are four steps:

  • Check panels are secure.
  • Look for damage or wear.
  • Test safety switch engages and disengages.
  • Consult manual or technician if unsure how to repair or replace.

Furnaces can shut off after detecting an issue. If the pilot light won’t stay lit after fixing, this could mean a bigger problem needing professional help. Inspect and maintain your furnace each year! Clean filters and lubricate parts to reduce future issues. If you still can’t get a flame going, give the flame sensor some TLC.

  1. Check the Flame Sensor of the Furnace

Checking the flame sensor is vital for proper pilot light functioning. It’s a small component, but it plays a big role in an efficient furnace or boiler. Here’s how to check it:

Turn off the powerBefore you start, shut off the furnace or boiler.
Find the sensorLook near the burner assembly and use your owner’s manual if you’re not sure where it is.
Clean it with fine-grit sandpaper or steel woolThis will get rid of any dirt or debris buildup.
Reattach it and testTurn on the heating system and see if it ignites correctly, without shutting down.
If cleaning doesn’t work, replace itIf cleaning doesn’t fix the issue, replace the flame sensor.
  • Don’t forget that all furnaces are different. Check the manual before doing anything
  • Also, make sure the sensor is dry. Moisture can cause a short circuit or misreading. 
  • Maintenance checks by HVAC professionals are always a good idea. 
  • Plus, having an alarm system can notify you about any performance issues.

By following these tips and regularly maintaining the flame sensor, you can avoid problems and prolong your equipment’s lifespan.

Relighting the Pilot Light of the Furnace

To relight the pilot flame, follow these six simple steps:

  1. Turn off the gas supply by switching off the valve near the gas line or gas meter.
  2. Remove the access panel that covers the pilot light and burner assembly.
  3. Locate the pilot light and position the gas control valve to “pilot.”
  4. Press and hold the gas valve control knob in while lighting the pilot opening with a long lighter or match. Keep holding the valve knob in for at least a minute before releasing it.
  5. If the pilot light doesn’t remain on, repeat steps 1-4, and ensure that the flame sensor is clean and positioned correctly.
  6. Finally, replace the access panel and turn the gas valve knob to its “On” position.

To ensure safety, it’s important to have a basic understanding of your heating system’s pilot flame and the potential reasons for pilot light problems. Be aware that a malfunction in the pilot light can cause a dangerous build-up of carbon monoxide.

Don’t hesitate to contact your utility company, HVAC technician, or appliance manufacturer for help. Don’t wait until it’s too late; relight the pilot and stay safe.

If you’re going to fix your furnace pilot light, it’s best to turn off the power and gas supply so you don’t end up like a cartoon character with a singed face.

  1. Turn Off the Power and Gas Supply to the Furnace

To relight a pilot light, the first step is to turn off both the power and gas supply. This is a must so that no accidents occur.

Here’s a six-step guide on how to turn off the power and gas supply:

  • Find the power switch for the gas-powered appliance.
  • Flip the switch to ‘off’.
  • Locate the shutoff valve.
  • Turn it clockwise until it’s fully closed.
  • If there are multiple shutoff valves, make sure all of them are closed.
  • Wait five minutes to be sure.

It’s not too difficult. If you’re unsure, call a professional. Remember, if you smell gas, immediately exit your home and call emergency services.

My friend had scared when he tried to relight his water geyser without realizing he hadn’t turned off the gas supply. Flames shot out from his machine. He now double-checks before attempting anything! Accessing the pilot light would be great if it was as easy as getting snacks from the vending machine at work.

  1. Accessing the Pilot Light of the Furnace

Accessing the pilot light is essential for relighting gas furnaces or water heaters. First, switch off the power supply. Then, look for the access panel – usually located at the bottom.

To access the pilot light:

  • Unscrew or lift off the access panel.
  • Look for the pilot assembly – a small tube connected to the gas valve and burner assembly.
  • Use a long match or lighter and insert it into the tube’s end to ignite the pilot light.

Be wary! Keep a safe distance while relighting and never use inflammable liquids. Sharp edges may be present in the access panel, so handle them with care. Consult the owner’s manual for precise instructions.

Energy.gov states that by cleaning debris from furnace air filters, energy efficiency can increase by 5-15%. 

If relighting a pilot light was an Olympic event, I’d be a champion of procrastination!

  1. Relighting the Pilot Light of the Furnace

When your furnace or boiler is misbehaving, it’s likely due to a pilot light issue. Don’t worry though! Here’s a guide to relight it in 3 easy steps.

1Locate The Pilot Light And Gas Control Valve: Find the valve, press down, and turn counterclockwise to “pilot”. Then, find the pilot light assembly and turn the knob to “pilot”. Hold it still with one hand, and use a lighter with the other to ignite the flame.
2Keep The Flame Burning: Press down on the valve knob for about 20 seconds until you see a steady flame. Don’t release it too quickly, as this could put out the flame.
3Turn It On & Monitor: When you get a steady flame, turn the knob from “pilot” to “on”. You should hear a click, meaning the burner is now on. If it doesn’t start working, get help from your gas utility or an HVAC contractor. Monitor for a few hours for efficiency or smells.

Make sure you have good ventilation while handling gas appliances, as they produce carbon monoxide which can be dangerous. Make sure the flame is blue otherwise, your house might end up like a Game of Thrones scene!

According to Energystar.gov, using programmable thermostats correctly can reduce energy bills by 10%.

  1. Checking for a Strong, Blue Flame on the Furnace

Checking for a strong, blue flame is essential before igniting the pilot light. A weak or yellow flame could mean dirt or debris, and this can lead to hazardous conditions.

For optimal safety and efficiency, turn off all gas appliances and wait for 10-15 minutes. Then, remove the cover panel and locate the gas valve knob, ensuring it is in the ‘off’ position.

Next, turn on the gas valve knob counterclockwise till you hear hissing sounds. Now, take a look at the pilot light and observe the strong, blue flame.

If you spot any dirt or debris resulting in a weak or yellow flame, call an expert technician right away. This way, you can get maximum efficiency and lower your utility bills. Plus, a regular inspection provides long-term fuel efficiency that translates to cost savings!

Ignoring safety checks can lead to serious consequences such as property damage or injury to households, pets, or friends. So don’t hesitate and get an appointment with a pro today!

When to Call a Professional For Pilot Light Issues In Furnace

Having a basic understanding of how your furnace pilot light works can help you troubleshoot common problems. However, there are certain situations when it’s best to call a professional HVAC technician

  • If you’ve already tried relighting the pilot light and cleaning the pilot opening but the issue persists, it’s time to seek professional help. 
  • Additionally, if you suspect a problem with the gas supply or gas regulator, it’s best to contact a professional immediately.
  • Professional assistance is also necessary when it comes to dealing with issues related to the heat exchanger or combustion chamber
  • These are sensitive parts that require specialized knowledge and equipment to repair or replace. 
  • If you hear strange noises or notice unusual smells coming from your furnace, this may indicate a problem with these parts, and you should call a professional immediately.
  • Lastly, if you suspect a carbon monoxide leak or notice a yellow flame instead of a blue one, turn off all gas appliances and contact your utility company and a professional HVAC technician immediately.

Furnaces are complex systems that require specialized knowledge, and attempting to fix them on your own can be dangerous and lead to further issues.

Keep your home safe from the silent killer – don’t ignore furnace pilot light issues that could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

  1. Safety Concerns and Carbon Monoxide Leaks from Your Furnace

Protecting your home and loved ones is key. Carbon monoxide is a dangerous, odorless gas. It’s made of stoves, fireplaces, and water heaters. 

  • Detector alarms are a must. Install one per floor, close to bedrooms. 
  • If anyone has symptoms or the alarm sounds, evacuate and call 911!
  • Regular maintenance on gas appliances can help prevent leaks. 
  • Have a professional inspect and service them each year. 
  • Be sure to ventilate when cooking with gas or using fumes-producing machines.

Stay alert to safety threats like carbon monoxide. Put in detectors, and service appliances, and ensure good ventilation will keep you and those around you safe.

  1. Malfunctioning Igniter or Main Burner

When your gas-powered appliance is playing up, it could be due to a faulty Igniter or Main Burner. Here are 5 points to help you diagnose the issue:

  • The igniter sparks to get the pilot light going.
  • The main burner kicks in once the pilot light’s lit.
  • If the igniter stops working, try resetting it.
  • If resetting fails, get a pro in for repairs.
  • Never tamper with the appliance or try to fix it yourself.

It’s essential to know that gas appliances should only be worked on by certified experts. DIY repairs may cause harm or result in injury. So, always get help from a professional if anything’s amiss.

And, pay attention to this true story: A homeowner once attempted to repair their broken gas furnace by meddling with the igniter. Resultantly, their home was damaged and they were left with serious injuries. It’s important to take gas appliance malfunctions seriously and enlist qualified pros for our safety.

If your heater won’t heat, don’t risk it, call in a specialist before things go from bad to worse!

  1. Issues with Boiler or Heat Exchanger

Boilers and heat exchangers are essential to any heating system. If you spot a problem, get help from a pro as soon as possible. Ignoring small problems can lead to major disasters that could jeopardize your safety.

A malfunctioning boiler can cause toxic carbon monoxide. Regular maintenance is the best prevention. Still, if you think something is wrong, contact a professional. Fixing boilers and heat exchangers early on can stop more damage. An expert can figure out what’s wrong and repair or replace any broken pieces.

Check-ups for your house aren’t as fun as check-ups for your body, but they’ll save you a lot of pain in the long run.

Preventative Maintenance For Pilot Light Issues In Furnace

Pilot light issues can occur due to various reasons, leading to operational inefficiency and safety risks. A preventative maintenance routine can help detect and resolve any potential or existing problems with the pilot light on your gas appliances.

Here are four points to keep in mind for effective preventative maintenance:

  • Regular cleaning and inspection of the pilot opening, ignition device, gas line, and combustion chamber can help prevent clogging and dirt buildup.
  • Draft and venting issues can cause problems with the pilot light. Checking the positioning and wind source can help prevent this problem.
  • Replacing the thermocouple and flame sensor after every few years of use can ensure the proper functioning of the safety mechanism and ignition system.
  • Regularly checking the gas supply and regulator for sufficient flow and pressure can help prevent a weak or yellow pilot light flame.

In addition to these preventative maintenance tips, it’s crucial to understand the unique issues related to your gas appliances and heating system. If you experience any problems with the pilot light despite following these tips, consult a professional to assess and fix the issue for you.

Regular preventative maintenance can help prolong the lifespan of your gas appliances and heating system, so make sure to schedule regular checks and inspections.

Taking care of your furnace is like taking care of a plant – clean its pilot opening and thermocouple regularly, and it will bloom with a strong flame.

  1. Cleaning the Pilot Opening and Thermocouple of Pilot Light In the Furnace

Keep your pilot opening and thermocouple super clean for proper performance. Here’s what to do:

  • Turn off the gas supply first.
  • Find the pilot assembly with the pilot burner, tube, & thermocouple.
  • Brush or use compressed air to remove dust from both parts.
  • Check the thermocouple for problems & replace it if needed.
  • Turn on the gas & light the pilot flame.
  • Clean these bits regularly or blockages can occur.

Thomas Johann Seebeck invented thermocouples in 1821!

Remember, a small pilot flame won’t ignite anything, like a bad date!

  1. Checking and Adjusting the Pilot Flame of the Pilot Light in the Furnace

It’s vital to do preventative maintenance and check the Pilot flame. This small task can make a huge difference in terms of safety and efficiency for your furnace or boiler. Here’s a 5-Step Guide to Checking and Adjusting the Pilot Flame:

  • Turn off the power supply.
  • Locate the pilot light assembly near the burner.
  • Check for debris that could cause improper combustion.
  • Adjust the flame using the adjustment screw on the gas valve, for a steady blue flame with no yellow tips or flickering.
  • Turn on the power supply to observe if everything is working smoothly.

Lots of factors can affect combustion, so it’s important to inspect regularly. If you see signs of a weak flame or low gas pressure, call professionals right away!

One winter night, my friend’s furnace issues threatened their dinner. Ignoring regular maintenance had caused pilot flame and carbon monoxide leak problems. Regular inspections can prevent this. So, stay safe and practice regular preventative maintenance on gas appliances! Make sure to verify airflow before things get too hot!

  1. Verifying Proper Venting and Air Flow of the Pilot Light in the Furnace 

Air circulation is important for any system. Good ventilation and airflow can avoid troubles such as breakdowns and even dangerous situations. Here’s a 4-step guide to test proper venting and airflow:

  • Make sure vents are clear of dust and debris.
  • Ensure all parts have enough space for airflow.
  • Measure intake and exhaust static pressure to make sure it fits the specs. This shows good airflow at each component.
  • Check the ventilation ducts. They must be installed correctly, without leaks or restrictions that reduce airflow. Plus, make sure they follow regional or national standards.

Plus, regular maintenance is important. Inspect for moisture on coils, check belts, pulleys, and bearings for damage, and keep an eye on filters too.

A company once had a factory fire because their exhaust fan wasn’t maintained well. That underlines the importance of preventative maintenance for verifying proper venting and airflow systems.

Remember, taking care of small issues saves big problems in the future!

  1. Inspecting and Replacing Parts as Needed In Furnace

Preventative maintenance is a must for optimum operation and the long life of the gear. A key component of this is inspecting and replacing parts when needed. Here’s how to do it correctly:

  1. Identify the part exactly.
  2. Check the manufacturer’s guide for how to inspect/replace it.
  3. Carefully inspect for signs of wear, damage, cracks, etc.
  4. Replace immediately if necessary.
  5. Test the equipment after replacing it.

It’s important to remember that each piece of machinery requires different inspections and replacements per manufacturer instructions. Creating a detailed schedule for inspections and replacements for each piece of gear is also vital for successful preventative maintenance.

Doing preventative maintenance on time ensures the equipment works well and reduces costs from delayed repairs.


The issue of pilot light problems is one of the common problems with gas appliances, such as furnaces and water heaters.  Sealing air leaks can save you up to 30% on energy bills! The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) states this. It also improves air quality, keeps toxins out, and lengthens the life of your furnace. It’s important to remember that each piece of machinery requires different inspections and replacements per manufacturer instructions. Regular preventative maintenance can help prolong the lifespan of your gas appliances and heating system, so make sure to schedule regular checks and inspections. Always double-check everything before calling technicians so you don’t waste their time or your money.