Pilot Light Problems? Possible Repair Issues You May Face

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Gas furnaces continue to be popular with homeowners because of their ability to create efficient, convenient heat. Unlike electric models, furnaces that use natural gas, fuel oil, or propane as fuel require an ignition component called a pilot light to ignite the burner each time the thermostat tells the furnace to cycle on and produce heat. 

If a repair issue arises that prevents the pilot light from lighting or staying lit after being lighted, the furnace cannot cycle on and create heat. Homeowners who discover that their furnace's pilot light seems unable to stay lit may be facing one or more of the following issues. 

Dirty component and supply issues

In order to maintain the proper flame, a pilot light must have an uninterrupted fuel source. A dirty pilot light orifice can impede the supply of fuel and prevent the pilot light from maintaining a steady flame sufficient to light the furnace's burner. 

Another potential problem that homeowners should check is whether the fuel supply is sufficient and stable. If propane or fuel oil tanks are nearly empty or propane or natural gas regulators are not functioning correctly, the pilot light may not be receiving enough fuel to stay alight. 

Homeowners with low fuel supplies may find that their pilot light problems vanish once the tank has been refilled, but those who suspect a regulator issue or a dirty orifice will need professional assistance to safely deal with the problem. 

Thermocouple failure

Gas and oil furnaces are outfitted with a safety device called a thermocouple or flame sensor. The thermocouple component designed to be in direct contact with the flame of the pilot light. It performs the function of stopping the flow of fuel whenever the pilot light goes out, to prevent unburned gas from feeding into the home.

Thermocouple components can fail to perform correctly if the part becomes damaged, dirty, or moves out of alignment with the pilot light. Since any repair to the thermocouple unit can involve safety issues with the gas or oil supply, homeowners should refer the repair to properly trained HVAC technicians. 

Pilot lights on older furnaces usually stay on whenever the heating system is on, while newer furnaces may use intermittent pilot lights that light only when needed through an ignition process or with a hot surface igniter component. Homeowners who are experiencing any type of problem with their pilot light components can get additional information about heating repair by discussing their situation with a local repair service. 


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