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Why Does My Pilot Light Keep Going Out?

While most newer gas appliances no longer use pilot lights, appliances with pilot lights are still in use by many people. Anyone who has had a furnace, water heater or other appliance that uses a pilot light understands that they can be a nuisance if they go out, but what are they and why do they go out?

What is a pilot light?

A pilot light is a small flame in gas-powered appliances that always stays lit. When the appliance is turned on, the pilot light ignites the gas sent to the main burner. The appliance draws a small amount of gas to keep the pilot light lit, and a sensor called a thermocouple cuts off the gas supply if the light goes out.

Why do pilot lights go out?

A pilot light sometimes goes out if there is a draft or poor ventilation, but the thermocouple could be faulty if the pilot light keeps going out. The thermocouple is a metal rod that sits in the pilot light and converts the heat into just enough electricity to keep a valve open and allow gas to keep the flame burning. If the flame goes out, the thermocouple cools off and the valve closes, keeping gas from building up and becoming a safety hazard.

If the pilot light goes out frequently, a faulty thermocouple that can’t keep the valve open could be extinguishing the flame. If this happens, you need to call a professional to replace the thermocouple before relighting the pilot light.

Relighting a Pilot Light

If your water heater or furnace pilot light goes out, follow the instructions below to relight it.

  • Push the ignite button, which manually holds the valve open.
  • Light the pilot light and wait for the thermocouple to heat up, about 30 seconds.
  • Let go of the button and ensure that the pilot light stays on.

If the relighting process doesn’t work or the light continues to go out frequently, call a professional.

If your furnace pilot light keeps going out, contact Lee’s Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing for heater repair. Our technician will be able to repair the problem and relight the pilot light in no time. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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