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A Guide to Furnace Pilot Light Problems and Solutions

If you have an older gas furnace (such as those commonly found in mobile homes), it probably uses a pilot light to ignite its burners. When the pilot light isn’t working, it won’t generate a small blue flame and will cause your furnace to stop heating your home. Since a number of reasons can cause a pilot light to go out or malfunction, it’s important to understand the four most common pilot light problems and how to solve them.

Why Is My Pilot Light Out?

A pilot light that goes out can be caused by several issues, with these problems ranging in severity. For example, a pilot light can go out because of a draft of air, but it could also be because its thermocouple has stopped working. As a result, pilot light solutions will vary based on the original issue and its complexity. 

4 Furnace Pilot Light Problems and Their Solutions

Since furnace pilot lights can go out for different reasons, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with their main problems so you can know what to do when they occur. It’s also important to know that even if your pilot light is on, it can sometimes need maintenance, such as when it produces a yellow or orange flame instead of a blue one. Take a moment to learn more about the top four furnace pilot light problems and their solutions:

1. A Draft of Air Has Blown It Out

One of the most common reasons for a pilot light going out is a draft of air. When your home isn’t properly insulated, or you have an air source near your furnace, gusts of air can blow out the pilot light. Typically, you can fix this issue by following the instructions in your furnace’s owner’s manual about how to relight the pilot light safely.

While many homeowners can relight their furnace’s pilot light on their own, you’ll want to consult a professional HVAC professional if the light continues to blow out. You may have an issue with your system, or you could need to add more insulation to your home. Whatever the reason your pilot keeps going out, a professional technician can help prevent this issue from reoccurring.

2. Your Intake Valve Is Dirty

Another common problem pilot lights face is dirt build-up on the gas intake valve. When this intake valve isn’t regularly cleaned, dirt will often accumulate over the valve and restrict your pilot light’s oxygen supply. Since the pilot light needs oxygen to ignite and remain hot enough, the intake valve needs to stay clean. 

Fortunately, a dirty intake valve is usually a quick fix. A trained HVAC technician can safely clean the intake valve and ensure your furnace light is working properly. To avoid a dirty intake valve in the future, you can also sign up for an annual furnace inspection and cleaning from an HVAC professional.

3. Your Thermocouple Is Broken or Has Malfunctioned

If your pilot light went out and it’s not an issue with a gust of air or a dirty intake valve, you may have a more complicated problem on your hands. Your pilot light’s thermocouple is a safety device that detects if your flame is burning correctly. When the thermocouple senses that there’s no flame or that the flame isn’t hot enough, it will turn off your pilot light’s gas supply to prevent gas leaks. 

Since thermocouples are essential to your furnace’s safety, a malfunctioning one will cause your pilot light to go out. Some of the most common reasons for a malfunctioning thermocouple include:

  • The thermocouple is dirty and can’t sense the flame properly
  • The thermocouple has slipped out of place
  • The thermocouple is bent or damaged in some other way

No matter the cause of a malfunctioning thermocouple, you’ll need professional help to fix it safely. An HVAC technician can help diagnose the reason behind the malfunctioning thermocouple and provide the necessary furnace repairs. They may also replace the thermocouple if it’s past the point of repair.

4. Your Pilot Light Isn’t Producing a Hot Enough Flame

When your thermocouple is working properly, it may shut off your pilot light when it’s not hot enough. One way you can tell if your flame isn’t producing enough heat is if the flame is yellow or orange instead of blue. Typically, an orange or yellow flame means your pilot light doesn’t have enough oxygen. A flame that routinely has an orange or yellow flame can also be a safety risk, as it can mean your furnace is releasing carbon monoxide into your home.

Since fixing a pilot light that’s not getting hot enough can require a complicated solution, contact a professional HVAC technician to inspect it and make a repair. If they find that your furnace is releasing carbon monoxide or poses a health risk, you may also want to upgrade to a new electric furnace for greater safety and energy efficiency.

Choose Bonney for Furnace Repair Services in Sacramento

If your pilot light went out and you’re looking for furnace repair services near you in Sacramento, Bonney has you covered. Our furnace repair technicians are trained in pilot light solutions and can perform the repairs you need to get your furnace running again. Alongside repairing pilot lights on older furnaces, our team can help you select a new high-efficiency electric furnace and install it for you. You can also check out our coupons and financing services to ensure you receive the right deal for your budget. Learn more about our furnace repair services today. If you have any questions or want to schedule an appointment, please contact us.