What to Do When Your Pilot Light Goes out on Your Gas Furnace

Basement furnace

Posting Date: December 19, 2016
Posted by: Al Hill, Las Vegas Manager

In our last blog, we talked about some of the things you should check before phoning in for a service call if your heating system isn’t working.

If you have a gas furnace, one of the problems you may encounter while you’re troubleshooting is an extinguished pilot light.

Most older gas furnaces (and some new ones) are ignited with a pilot light (many newer models use an electronic ignition for better efficiency). One of the main reasons a propane gas furnace stops working is because that pilot light goes out.

Pilot light failure can happen for many reasons, including:

  1. Having intake valves that are clogged with dust or debris – Dirt buildup in these areas can cut off oxygen to the pilot light chamber, making it difficult for its flame to “breathe.”
  2. Having a damaged thermocouple – A thermocouple is essentially an electrical switch that varies its output when temperatures change – on your gas furnace, it’s used to cut off gas supply as a safety measure. A qualified technician must repair or replace a damaged thermocouple; it’s not a DIY job.
  3. Having a weak flame – A yellow pilot light flame usually indicates a leak somewhere in your system, and your furnace responds to that leak by automatically shutting down for safety reasons. Do not attempt to repair heating system leaks yourself – contact us for service.
  4. Being exposed to drafts or wind – Most pilot lights simply blow out. Luckily, this is one of the easiest problems to fix. Follow these steps to reset your pilot light:
    • Step 1: Always follow manufacturer’s instructions first (see the side of your furnace unit or your owner’s manual for details).
    • Step 2: Find the gas valve in the pilot light assembly; it typically has “on,” “off,” and “pilot” settings.
    • Step 3: Turn the valve to the OFF position and wait three minutes or more for It to reset.
    • Step 4: After three minutes, turn the valve to the PILOT setting and hold a lighted match next to (not inside!) the pilot light opening. While holding the match, push and hold the reset button on the pilot control panel until you see the pilot light ignite, then set the valve to the ON position.
    • Step 5: If the pilot light doesn’t light after several attempts, contact us for service.

Need expert service for your propane gas furnace or other heating system? Contact us today!