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What to do When your Pilot Light isn’t Working

In previous blogs we’ve posted on our page, we have talked about this little piece o your heating system that is called a pilot light. Your pilot light is a crucial piece of your home’s heating system, so if your water heater or gas furnace suddenly stops working, the pilot light is most likely the source of your problem.

So what do you do if your pilot light isn’t working?

Pilot Light Problems

When it comes to your furnace there are multiple components that work together to keep the machine running smoothly. The piece that ignites the gas burner and starts your furnace is known as the pilot light. So if your pilot light isn’t working, that means heat isn’t being produced leaving your home and water extremely cold during the winter months.

Before we dig any deeper into why your pilot light isn’t working it is important to understand exactly how this part works.

In an older furnace system- this is most likely the system you have in your home- the heating system works to push fuel into the combustion chamber where it then waits to be ignited (this is the pilot light’s job) Once the pilot lights, it uses a small gas supply to contact the igniter that is located on the pilot causing the pilot to light and produce fuel to heat your home.

Let’s jump back in with some of the causes behind why your pilot light isn’t working:

Your Furnace Needs to be Cleaned

When people come to us saying that their pilot light isn’t working nine times out of ten it is because their furnace needs to be cleaned. If you are experiencing heating issues, go look at your furnace and observe the flame above the pilot. If you see a weak and yellow tinged flame, it is time for your furnace to be cleaned. This lazy flame is often times caused by a build up of dirt and debris within your furnace. The flame on your pilot should be a strong bright blue, and if it is not, a good deep clean of your furnace may solve all of your problems.

There is an Issue with the Thermocouple

If your pilot light is consistently going out, the thermocouple is most likely the root of your heating issues. The thermocouple is the device that shuts off the gas when the flame on a pilot light goes out. When it comes to the thermocouple on your furnace there can be a few issues that occur:

Each one of these can be the cause of why your pilot light isn’t working. If you think your heating problem has something to do with the thermocouple it is important to reach out to one of our specialists. The thermocouple is a vital and hard to handle piece, so it is best to have an expert take care of repairing or replacing this part.

Your Pilot Light has Blown Out

Would you be surprised if we told you the reason your pilot light isn’t working is because of a strong gust of wind? Well it’s true! A strong wind or extremely drafty area can cause your pilot light to go out. If this is the cause of your problems it can be extremely difficult to fix because you have to be able to detect exactly where that draft may be coming from.

Signs your Pilot Light isn't Working

Now that you know some possible reasons why your pilot light working, how are you able to distinguish if it is the culprit behind your heating issues?

We’ve gone over quite a few problems that you may be having with your heating system in other blogs, but there are certain signs that can help you name the pilot light as the main culprit.

The first thing that you can do right away is to check for a flame. If you have turned the knobs on your furnace and are still unable to get a strong, steady blue flame this is a good indication that your pilot light isn’t working and is causing problems.

Another sign that your pilot light is the culprit is the smell of rotten eggs. If you are experiencing this odor it is important to shut off your gas entirely. Most furnaces have a safety shut-off valve however if you are unable to locate this valve you should leave your home and call your gas company immediately

Are you in Danger When your Pilot Light isn't Working?

While a pilot light outage isn’t necessarily dangerous, you do have to worry about the gas line. The problem that can occur here is that your pilot light could be out, but the pilot flame is still pumping gas. If this is the case, it could mean a large amount of gas building up that can lead to a huge explosion once the pilot relights itself or is relit.

Most furnace systems are equipped with a failsafe electrical shut off valve that will immediately stop the flow of gas as soon as the pilot light goes out. However, even failsafe systems can have issues, so if your pilot light isn’t working be sure to check for that rotten egg smell to be sure a build up of gas isn’t occurring.

Fixing your Pilot Light

The pilot light is an important component to your furnace, that can be extremely finicky. Most furnace’s will have instructions taped to the side of the unit, however, we highly recommend that you contact a professional for help before attempting to fix your pilot light.

With that being said, we know a little something about wanting to try our hand at solving on our own, (we all have had a stubborn dad, or grandfather who claimed they could fix anything right?) So if your furnace doesn’t have instructions you can try these few steps:

Call us When your Pilot Light isn't Working

If the steps stated above don’t work or if you are nervous about trying to fix it yourself give our team of experts at Express Tech Air a call. We can help you restore your home’s pilot light and get your furnace up and running again!