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Help! My Furnace’s Pilot Light Keeps Going Out

Mar 15, 2020

A service technician talking to a man in the basement by a Lennox furnace installed by romaniuk heating.

If your furnace’s pilot light keeps going out it can be a really annoying problem, especially during the cold winter months. If your furnace utilizes a pilot light it depends on that light to operate correctly. Without it, your furnace won’t be able to turn on and you’ll be left with an uncomfortably cold house.

There are a few different reasons why your pilot light won’t stay on. Some are minor issues that are easy fixes, while others are more complicated and will require the assistance of a skilled HVAC technician. Either way, it’s worth investigating yourself to see if you can determine the problem.

Here are the three most likely reasons why your furnace’s pilot light keeps going out.

Clogged Pilot Orifice

The pilot orifice (also known as the pilot opening) is where gas is released to light the pilot. Over time, it can become clogged with dirt and debris, which can interfere with the pilot light and cause it to go out.

A good way to determine if this is the source of your problem is to watch your pilot light when it’s on. If the flame is steady and blue then your orifice is working correctly. However, if the flame is wavy and yellow it’s likely that the orifice is clogged and will need to be cleaned.

To clean the orifice start by turning off the power to your furnace, then give the pilot time to cool down. When it’s safe to do so, use a pin or needle to clear away any debris that’s blocking the pilot opening.

If you’re unsure whether you can clean the orifice safely an HVAC technician can assist and also inspect the rest of your furnace to ensure it’s operating correctly.

Faulty Thermocouple

If your furnace’s pilot light keeps going out and you determine that your pilot orifice is clean of debris then the problem is likely the thermocouple. The thermocouple’s job is to stop the flow of gas to the pilot light if it goes out. It’s a safety measure to ensure that gas isn’t being released when the flame is out, as this could be a safety hazard.

The thermocouple works by registering heat when the pilot light is on. If something goes wrong and it’s unable to register heat it will close the gas valve, which prevents the pilot light from coming on.

There are a few different reasons that a thermocouple might not work correctly. If it becomes too dirty this may interfere with its operation. If you notice a lot of dirt on the thermocouple try cleaning it off with a wire brush. It can also become bent, and if it bends too far away from the pilot light it will no longer be able to detect heat. If you see that the thermocouple is bent you can try bending it back into place. As always, before attempting any fixes make sure the power to your furnace is turned off.

If neither of these solutions solve the problem then your thermocouple is likely damaged and you’ll need to call an HVAC technician to replace it.

Bad Gas Regulator

A bad gas regulator can also be the reason your furnace’s pilot light keeps going out. The regulator controls the pressure of natural gas before it enters your home. However, if it isn’t functioning properly it may prevent gas from flowing at a high enough pressure to keep your pilot light lit.

If you suspect the problem is your gas regulator inspect the other appliances inside your home. If the pilot lights in these appliances also have trouble staying on then then this is likely the culprit, rather than something to do with your furnace. In order to get the problem resolved you’ll need to call your utility company.

Contact Us Today for All of Your HVAC Needs

Romaniuk has been serving the greater Edmonton area for over 30 years. Our team of certified experts is ready to help you with all of your HVAC needs. If your furnace’s pilot light keeps going out, or you have another issue with your HVAC system, call us today at 587-400-7333.