Why Your Pilot Light Keeps Going Out

Why does your pilot light keep going out? We will explain some of the reasons. It is important that you leave repairs to a licensed professional to avoid serious injury to your home, family or person.


What’s A Pilot Light?

A pilot light is a small flame that stays lit and is used to ignite the main burner. When you turn on your appliance, the main burner releases the gas, and the pilot light lights it up and generates heat. This heat warms the main burner and produces hot water or hot air that is distributed all over your property.

What Appliances Have Pilot Lights?

Most common appliances like your old boiler or furnace, water heater, and gas fireplace have pilot lights. Now being replaced by spark igniters or hot surface igniters for safety purposes, pilot lights are responsible for igniting the gas to warm up your space.

What Does Your Water Heater Pilot Light Do And Where is it Located?

Under the thermostat at the bottom of your gas water heater is an access panel. The gas water heater pilot light is located within this access panel. A gas panel usually lets you see if the pilot flame is lit. 

If you do not have hot water, you should check the pilot light first. If it’s out, you should contact a licensed contractor for water heater repair.

What Causes Your Water Heater Pilot Light to Go Out?

There are several reasons why your pilot light might go out, including a faulty thermocouple or a curl in the flex tube. Another common culprit is a dirty pilot light opening or a drafty environment that can blow the pilot light’s flame and make it go out frequently.

1. A Faulty Thermocouple is Responsible For Your Pilot Light Problem

The thermocouple is a safety device that keeps the pilot light lit. It is a copper rod that senses when the flame is off, and then it shuts down the gas supply to make sure that you don’t get carbon monoxide poisoning. If your thermocouple isn’t working correctly, it can cause your pilot light to go out. Over time, the thermocouple can malfunction, become bent, become covered by dirt or carbon, or get damaged. When any of these issues occur, it will prevent the pilot light from staying lit. In this case, your HVAC technician may replace your thermocouple.

2. A Curl in The Flex Tube Could be Responsible For Your Pilot Light Problem

The flex tube is a metal or plastic tube that connects the gas line to the water heater. A curl or twist in the flex tube can prevent the flow of gas and cause your water heater pilot light to go out. To fix this issue, your technician should straighten out the flex tube or replace it with a new one if necessary.

3. A Drafty Environment Can Cause Your Pilot

Your pilot light can go out due to excessive wind or if your water heater is in a drafty environment. This can happen if there are air registers or vents close to the water heater or if it’s near an open window or door. A draft will blow away the pilot light flame and make it go out frequently. To address this problem, you should move the water heater farther away from drafts.

4. Dirty Pilot Light Opening

Grime and dirt on the mouth of your pilot light will prevent the flame from staying lit. If it manages to keep a flame, it will be weak and can be extinguished at any time. You should contact your HVAC technician to clean the pilot light opening to get rid of the dirt and grime.

What is The Furnace Pilot Light And What Does it do?

In old gas furnaces, the pilot light was essential to generate heat. When the gas valve is open, the function of the pilot light is to light the gas. When this happens, the air that is directed into the furnace warms and is sent around your home. If your pilot light fails, your furnace may end up blowing cold air. The pilot light is also one of the main reasons that your furnace fails to turn on. 

To find the pilot light follow the gas line into your furnace. At that spot, you’ll find a switch that shows if the pilot light is on or off. There’s a tube from here that connects to the burner. This small tube should lead you to the pilot light.

Why Does Your Furnace Pilot Light Always Go Out?

There are several reasons why your furnace pilot light may go out.

1. Faulty Thermocouple

One of the most common reasons is that the thermocouple has become weak or faulty. The thermocouple is a safety device designed to shut off the gas flow if it detects that the flame has gone out. If the thermocouple is malfunctioning, old, not properly placed, or damaged, your pilot light can easily blow out or be incorrectly shut off.

2. Dirty Thermocouple

The thermocouple can also get clogged with dirt, dust, and other debris. This can affect the pilot light because the thermocouple may wrongly detect the flame has gone out and turn off the gas valve.

3. Dirty Pilot Port

If your pilot light doesn’t stay lit and the flame is yellow, it can be caused by a dirty pilot port. This is a common problem and it prevents the flame from being able to spread over the thermocouple. To fix this issue, you should contact a technician to clean the pilot port and make sure it is not blocked by any debris.

4. Faulty Gas Regulator

If the gas regulator outside your home is faulty, it can cause the furnace to not get an adequate supply of gas needed to keep the pilot light on. When the pilot light is out on several gas appliances like your furnace and water heater, it could be due to a faulty gas regulator.

5. Bad Flue Venting

A cracked, loose, or poorly connected flue pipe can cause the pilot light to go out. This lets in the air that can put out the pilot light flame. Make sure your flue pipe is properly connected and sealed, this should help keep the pilot light on.

6. A Strong Draft

A strong draft coming through the pilot light can also cause it to keep going out. If you have a strong draft in the area, make sure to close any windows or vents near the furnace.

The boiler pilot light is a small flame that constantly burns close to the gas valve of your boiler. It provides constant heat to ignite the burner. 

Boiler Pilot Light: Where is it And What Does it do?

A faulty boiler pilot light can prevent the water from being heated. Which means your boiler and central heating will fail to function. To find the pilot light, check the boiler manual. It is often located within your boiler not far from the gas valve.

Why The Boiler Pilot Light Goes Out

Your boiler pilot light can go out for several reasons.

1. Dirty or Broken Thermocouple

The thermocouple is an automatic safety device. It doesn’t allow your boiler to provide gas when the pilot light is out. If it is dirty or broken, it won’t be able to do its job properly and you’ll have problems with your pilot light.

2. Dirty Pilot Opening

If you light your pilot light and detect a yellow flame, this means that your pilot opening is clogged or dirty. Your technician will have to clean it to resolve the issue. This may be the reason your pilot light is going out. A dirty pilot light port will not be able to fully envelop the thermocouple. This will prevent the thermocouple from doing its job and will cause your pilot to go out.

3. Weak Gas Regulator

If you have gas appliances in your home, you will have a gas regulator somewhere outside. If it’s faulty or too weak, it will not be able to feed the pilot light with enough gas. This can cause your pilot light to go out. If more than one appliance in your home is affected by pilot light issues, it’s likely the result of a weak or faulty gas regulator.

4. Drafts or Wind

Strong drafts in the area can easily blow out the pilot light. Make sure you close any windows or vents near the boiler if you have a strong draft in the area.

How Do I Prevent My Pilot Light From Going Out?

Regular heater, furnace, and boiler maintenance by qualified technicians are important to ensure that your pilot light does not go out whenever you need it the most. A professional technician can check for any internal issues with the gas lines, burner components, and other parts of your equipment. 

Cleaning the pilot light and thermocouple can prolong its life and reduce the chance of malfunction. In addition to this, a pro will check the piping and wiring, flue venting, gas valve, and other parts to ensure maximum efficiency. You can also keep an eye on the flame of your pilot light to make sure it is burning correctly. 

Please, don’t try to fix any of the pilot light problems discussed in this article on your own. Opening up gas appliances can be a dangerous affair. To avoid explosions, you should always get professional help if your pilot light won’t stay lit. The team at Robert B. Payne can help you with any water heater, furnace, or boiler issues. 

Contact The Experts at Robert B. Payne

If your pilot light keeps going out, it could be a sign that something is wrong with your gas lines or safety devices. If you’re in need of a furnace, boiler, or water heater repair, contact Robert B. Payne, Inc today. Our technicians are fully certified and equipped to handle any type of problem and get your pilot light back up and running in no time. To learn more about our services, give us a call today at 540-373-5876!