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How to Troubleshoot Pilot Light Problems

Updated: Jul 17

Are you experiencing issues with your furnace pilot light? There are several easy-to-follow steps that you can take to diagnose the problem. Don’t worry—we’re going to walk you through the process.

inspecting a furnace in edmonton to determine pilot light problems

The Pilot Light Went Out

Sometimes the simplest answer to pilot light problems is the correct answer. Ask yourself if your furnace is near a source of flowing air. It could be a window, an air vent, or a drafty corner of the room. If so, the problem could be that enough fast-moving air entered the room to snuff out the pilot light.

Moving the furnace is often not a homeowner’s preferred option. Instead, restrict or redirect the air coming from a window or another source to prevent it from interfering with the pilot light. If you’re comfortable lighting a pilot light, you should have your furnace operating again in very little time.


The Pilot Light Doesn’t Remain Lit

A failing thermocouple is frequently the reason that your pilot won’t stay lit. A thermocouple is a small device containing metal that senses temperature.

Its job in your furnace is to shut down your furnace if it detects the presence of gas without a flame. When a thermocouple is failing, it can have trouble sensing that the pilot light is lit. Then to keep your home from being filled with gas, it immediately triggers a shutdown.

So, if your pilot light keeps shutting off, chances are it’s the fault of the thermocouple. The thermocouple could simply have stopped working due to age.

Because a furnace is prone to collect dust and debris, the thermocouple could be coated with soot. The layer of film will prevent the thermocouple from sensing the flame. Cleaning the thermocouple should remedy the problem.

The thermocouple also needs to be in the correct position to sense the presence of the flame. If it is out of position, it could be too far away from the flame to perform properly. Make sure that when the flame is present, the thermocouple can remain in constant contact with it.

Pilot Light Remains Lit But Is Weak

If the pilot light remains lit, you can rule out thermocouple problems. What colour is the flame? It should be blue.

If you see a small yellow flame instead, it’s a sign that it’s time to clean the furnace. Specifically, you want to clean the pilot orifice, a small metal restrictor at the end of the gas tubing that controls the flow of gas to the pilot burner.

It only takes a tiny amount of soot to partially block the orifice. Often you can clear the orifice with just a quick blast of compressed air.


Pilot Light Won’t Remain Lit, and There Are Problems with Other Gas Appliances

When you notice a problem with the pilot light of your furnace remaining lit, it’s good to check the functionality of your other gas appliances. For example, is your furnace pilot light out, but there’s also a similar problem with your kitchen stove? Does your gas clothes dryer fail to get warm?

If other gas appliances are also acting erratically, the problem is often bigger than just your furnace pilot light. For whatever reason, there may not be enough gas entering your home to properly operate your appliances. You’ll want to arrange for your utility company to inspect your gas meter.


Get Help From Pilot Light Professionals – Call Modern Air & Water!

Sooner or later, all homeowners are likely to have an issue with their pilot light. When this happens to you, you don’t have to tackle the problem alone. Let a locally-owned and operated Edmonton company keep your furnace operating at peak efficiency! Contact Modern Air & Water today to arrange an appointment!


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