5 Reasons Your Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit & How To Fix It

technician fixing gas furnace

As the holidays approach, you’ll want to start preparing your home for overnight visits from out-of-town friends and family. With guests coming, it’s imperative that all of your appliances and home systems are functioning properly in order to keep everybody comfortable. The last thing you want is for your guests to travel hours only to be without heat. If you find that your furnace pilot light keeps going out, check out these five possible explanations. 

Dirty Thermocouple

If your pilot light goes out, your first instinct is probably to re-light it. However, if you find that you are doing this frequently and the darn thing just won’t stay on, take a look at your thermocouple to see if it is clean. If it’s filthy shut your gas off so that the unit can cool down, then gently clean it by carefully rubbing it with fine grain sandpaper. When you’re done, simply turn the gas back on and light the pilot again. If dirt or grime was the issue, your light shouldn’t go out again! 

Bent Thermocouple

If the flame can’t reach the thermocouple because it has become bent, your gas valve will automatically shut off. Luckily, this is an easy problem to solve. All you have to do is shut off the gas, wait for everything to cool down and bend the thermocouple back into place. Voila! 

Filthy Pilot Opening

If the flame is directed through a dirty pilot opening, it will become unstable and appear wavy. This mild yellow flame is not nearly hot enough to heat the thermocouple and must be addressed immediately. Once again, shut the system off and use a thin needle to extract any clogs that may be obstructing the pilot opening. Once the blockage is clear and the system is turned back on, the flame should now appear blue and cone-shaped. 

Broken Thermocouple

If you’ve tried cleaning the thermocouple and pilot opening but your pilot light just won’t stay on, it may be time for a new thermocouple. Just like any other device, it will suffer wear and tear over the years and will eventually need to be replaced. Make sure to contact a trusted professional to ensure your next thermocouple is installed correctly.

Poor Location

If your furnace has been installed in a small enclosed area, there may not be enough oxygen available for the system to use. In this situation, your system runs out of combustible air and not only will your pilot light continuously burn out, but carbon monoxide may also build up within your home. If you suspect that this is the reason for your pilot light woes, call a professional for solutions to relocating the furnace immediately, as carbon monoxide can be deadly.  

If you have any questions regarding your furnace or pilot light call Comfort First Heating & Cooling at any of our 5 North Carolina locations. We would be more than happy to help in any way we can!