05 Jan

Why Your Pilot Light Keeps Going Out & How To Fix


Like everyone else, you want your pilot light to stay so that you can carry out the activities in your home that require hot water like showering and laundry. But why does the pilot light keep going out? We will explain some of the reasons and how you can fix them. We will also tell you what a pilot light is and where to find it. Read on to find out more!

Why Your Pilot Light Keeps Going Out & How To Fix

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 flame 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. Make sure you know where the pilot light is located so that you can easily access it when it goes out. Pilot lights are now being replaced by spark igniters or hot surface igniters for safety purposes.

Since the pilot light is responsible for igniting the gas to warm up your space, if there’s no heat in your home or business, inspect your furnace or boiler pilot light. If you do not have hot water, check your water heater pilot light.

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. There is usually a gas panel that lets you see if the pilot flame is lit. As mentioned earlier, the pilot light is a little flame that stays lit and is used to kindle the gas burner of your water heater. If you do not have hot water, you should check the pilot light. If it’s out and you’re unable to relight it, 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 flame of the pilot light 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, you should 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. If there is a curl or twist in the flex tube, it can prevent the flow of gas and cause your water heater pilot light to go out. To fix this issue, you 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. To get rid of the dirt and grime, you should clean the pilot light opening.

How to Relight My Gas Water Heater Pilot Light

If your pilot light is out, you can relight it yourself with a few simple steps.

Step 1: Read Your Gas Water Heater Manual

First, get familiar with your gas water heater, and read through the instructions that are provided in the manual. It is important to know how to know where to find the different parts of your water heater.

Step 2: Turn Down The Thermostat

Turn your water heater thermostat to the lowest setting. This will ensure that it is not running while you’re relighting the pilot light. It’s also okay to turn it off.

Step 3: Turn Off The Gas

To turn off the gas, you should locate the gas shut-off valve close to the bottom of your water heater on the gas line. Turn this valve to the “OFF” position. This will shut off the flow of gas to your water heater. However, you should wait for about 5 minutes before proceeding to the next step, as this will allow any residual gas to escape.

Step 4: Turn The Gas Control Valve on Your Water Heater to Pilot

After five minutes, you should find the gas control valve and turn it to “PILOT”. You can usually locate the pilot icon in the middle.

Step 5: Hold Down The Reset Button

Now, hold down the reset button on your water heater. This button is often red and located on the left side of the gas control valve. Remember to consult your manual so that you correctly recognize every part.

Step 6: Press The Igniter While Holding Down The Reset Button

As you hold down the reset button, press the igniter. You should keep it held down until you see a flame coming out of the pilot light opening. You’ll find the igniter on the right side of the gas control valve.

Step 7: Keep Holding Down The Reset Button For 20-30 Seconds

When you see the flame, release the igniter, but keep holding down the reset button for 20-30 seconds. This will give enough time for the thermocouple to turn on and start working.

Step 8: Turn The Gas Control Valve To On

Since the pilot light is lit, turn the gas control valve back to the “ON” position. This should be in the center slot.

Step 9: Turn The Thermostat up

Finally, you can turn the thermostat back up to its original position. Now you can enjoy a hot shower.

Step 10: Get Help!

If these steps fail to relight your pilot light or it won’t stay lit, you should call a professional plumber or technician for assistance. There could be an underlying issue that needs addressing immediately. Fixing a pilot light problem is not always easy, especially if the problem isn’t clear. However, following this guide should help you keep your water heater running safely and efficiently.

What Happens if You Don’t Have a Manual Lighter?

After You Turn Down The Thermostat And Shut The Gas Valve: Open the Access Panel

With the aid of a wrench, open the access panel of your water heater – this is usually located beneath the water heater thermostat.

After 5 Minutes, Turn The Gas Control Valve to Pilot

Next, find the gas control valve and turn it to “PILOT”.

Hold Down The Gas Control Valve And Ignite the Pilot With a Lighter

Hold down the gas knob and using a long lighter, ignite the pilot. You should use the igniting button instead if your gas water heater has one.

Once You Have a Flame Present, Turn The Gas Control Valve On

After igniting the pilot and releasing the reset button after 30 seconds, turn the gas control valve to “ON”. The main burner should come on. Your pilot light should now stay lit and your hot shower should be a reality.

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. The gas valve has a switch that tells you if the pilot light is on or off. 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

The most common reason 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. To fix this issue, you should 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.

How to Re-Light a Furnace Pilot Light

Step 1: Read The Furnace Manual

To understand how your furnace works, make sure you read your furnace manual first.

Step 2: Locate The Pilot Light

With the aid of the manual, locate the pilot light on your furnace. To get access, you’ll need to open the front part of your furnace.

Step 3: Turn Off The Gas Supply

Before attempting to re-light the pilot, make sure you turn off the gas valve. This is a safety precaution. Look for a small valve close to the bottom part of your furnace. You’ll find “On”, “Off”, and “Pilot” settings. Turn it to the “Off” setting. Wait at least five minutes before turning the gas back on. This gives you time for all the gas to clear out of the area, so you don’t end up with a mini-explosion when you try and light the pilot.

Step 4: Wait For 5 Minutes And Turn The Gas to “Pilot”

Once the gas is off, wait five minutes before you attempt to re-light the pilot. Turn the gas valve to the “Pilot” setting once you’re certain that all the gas has cleared out of the area.

Step 5: Hold The Reset Button

Using your furnace manual as a guide, locate the reset button on your furnace. In most furnaces, you’ll find it near the gas valve. Once you’ve found it, hold down the reset button.

Step 6: Ignite The Flame As You Hold The Reset Button

While holding down the reset button, ignite the flame. After the flame is lit, let go of the igniter but keep holding the reset button. Hold down the reset button for 20-30 seconds. In the absence of a manual igniter, you can also use a lighter to light the pilot.

Step 7: Turn The Gas Valve To “On”

Is the pilot light on? Now turn the gas valve to “On”. From this point onward, you should be able to turn the furnace on and off without having the pilot light go out.

Step 8: Call a Professional

If your pilot light still goes out after attempting all these steps, it may be time to call in a professional for help. A qualified technician can assess what’s wrong and help you get your furnace up and running again. You should also call a pro if you’re uncomfortable with any of the steps.

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

The boiler pilot light is a small flame that constantly burns in the gas valve of your boiler. It provides constant heat to ignite the burner. This lets the boiler heat the water which is then circulated throughout your home. 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 senses 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. You must 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 to Re-Light Boiler Pilot Light

Step 1: Consult Your Boiler’s Owner Manual

The boiler’s owner manual has instructions on how to re-light the boiler pilot light. Read it carefully and follow the steps closely. It also makes it easy to find the different parts of the boiler like the pilot light and the thermocouple.

Step 2: Turn Off The Gas Valve

Before you begin, make sure you turn off the boiler. This is a safety measure to prevent any accidents while you’re working on re-lighting the pilot light.

Step 3: Shut Off The Gas

Once you’ve read your owner’s manual and turned off the boiler completely, shut off the gas supply by turning the gas valve to the “Off” position.

Step 4: Wait For 10 Minutes

Wait 10 minutes for the gas to dissipate from the pipes. This will make it safe to proceed with the next steps.

Step 5: Locate The Pilot Light

Using your owner’s manual, locate the pilot light. You may need to open the boiler by removing the access panel. This panel is often found close to the gas control knob box.

Step 6: Turn The Gas to The “Pilot” Position

Now turn the gas control valve to the “Pilot” position.

Step 7: Hold The Reset Button And Click Igniter

Press down on the reset button and hold on to it. Click the igniter until you see the pilot light ignite. Even after the flame is lit, keep holding the reset button for another 20-30 seconds.

Step 8: Turn The Gas Control Valve to the “On” Setting

If the pilot light is re-lit, you can now turn the gas control valve back to the “On” setting. Your boiler is now ready to use and you should have hot water running in no time.

Step 9: Enjoy Hot Water

You should now be enjoying the hot water and central heating. If your pilot light keeps going out, there could be a more serious problem with your boiler system that you may need to call an experienced technician in order to resolve. The team at Robert B. Payne can help you with any boiler issues you may have.

How do I Prevent My Pilot Light From Going Out?

Regular heater, furnace, and boiler maintenance are important to ensure that your pilot light does not go out. A professional technician can check for any internal issues with the gas lines, burner components, and other parts of equipment. Cleaning the pilot light and thermocouple can prolong its life and reduce the chance of your pilot light going out. 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.

Contact The Experts at Robert B. Payne

If your water 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!