There is no worse feeling than having to keep your winter coat on INSIDE your house and pulling out all the space heaters because the furnace pilot light keeps going out. The pilot light, a dinky flame that ignites the main burner in your furnace, plays a crucial role in keeping your home warm. We’re going to nerd out for a second (because that’s what heating and cooling experts do) and chat about what pilot lights do, but we’ve also got a section below on how to troubleshoot and possibly fix any issues if you’d like to skip our HVAC mumbo jumbo.
The Purpose of the Pilot Light
The pilot light serves as a constant flame that ignites the gas burner when your thermostat signals a need for heat. It’s a tiny but mighty flame, always ready to spring into action. The flame in an older furnace is always on (unless you manually turn it off), but more modern furnaces often have an intermittent pilot light. No matter which you have, there are instances where this “baby fire” mysteriously gives up and quits. (Dang, that’s cold.)
Why the Pilot Light Keeps Going Out
- Thermocouple Troubles: Thermo-what-a? One common culprit for a pilot light going out is a malfunctioning thermocouple. The thermocouple is a safety device that senses the pilot light’s heat and allows gas to flow to the burner. It’s possible if you have a new furnace that this happens from a manufacturing defect, but the #1 cause of a thermocouple malfunction is AGE. Either way, when it’s faulty, it may shut off the gas supply and cause the flame to go out.
- Dirty Components: Over time, dust and debris can accumulate in and around the pilot light assembly. This can disrupt the flow of gas or obstruct the flame, leading to the pilot light going out unexpectedly. (Just like when your garage door sensors get all dirty and quit signaling to open your garage.)
- Drafts and Ventilation Issues: If your furnace is located in a drafty area or has ventilation problems, it can cause the pilot light to flicker and go out. Ensure that the area around the furnace is well-ventilated and free from drafts.
Reigniting the Flame (How Romantic)
Here’s a mini troubleshooting guide for those of you who love a little home DIY project:
- Inspect the Thermocouple: Check for any signs of wear or corrosion on the thermocouple. If it appears damaged, replacing it may resolve the issue.
- Clean the Pilot Assembly: Gently clean the pilot assembly and surrounding components to remove any accumulated dust or debris. This can improve the flame’s stability.
- Address Ventilation Concerns: Ensure that the furnace area is adequately ventilated, and seal any drafts that might be affecting the pilot light.
- Verify Gas Supply: Confirm that the gas supply to the furnace is uninterrupted. If there’s an issue with the gas line, it could be causing the flame to go out.
If the problem persists, or if you’re terrified you’re going to somehow destroy your furnace if you simply look in its direction, give us a call. Our team of small-town friendly HVAC techs have been doing furnace repair for years on companies as big as the “big auto brand in Marysville” (which we clearly can’t directly name) and as small as tiny homes. There’s no issue we haven’t seen. And we’d love to help solve your furnace issues and make sure your home stays toasty this winter.
When that pilot light keeps going out, we’re here – 24/7.