Gas furnaces use pilot lights as an ignition source. If it fails, then your gas furnace will stop working.
The best way to know if your pilot light is broken is by checking if it’s lit. If it doesn’t look like a standing pilot flame that’s blue, or it’s out completely, then you have an issue with your pilot light.
Below you’ll find tips to restore your pilot light to working order and what to do if it’s broken.
Let’s get started.
How to Know if You Have a Broken Pilot Light?
The best way to know if your pilot light is failing is if your furnace is working or not.
If your furnace is creating warm air, then your pilot light is still functioning.
If you don’t feel any air coming from your furnace whatsoever, then a broken pilot light may be to blame.
The pilot light is normally located at the bottom of your furnace. To diagnose your pilot light:
1. Remove the access cover panel exposing the burner assembly
2. Find the pilot light. If you don’t see anything that’s lit, then you’ll need to look for a red dial (it may be other colors) that says “On, Off and Pilot”.
3. Locate the 2 smaller tubes that are attached to the gas valve housing. This will lead you to the pilot light.
4. Check if your pilot light is lit. It should be a small blue flame. If you don’t see a flame or it’s yellow, you may have an issue with your pilot light.
How to Relight the Pilot Light
1. Find the pilot light assembly with the three settings of “Pilot, On and Off”.
2. Turn the knob to off
3. Wait a few minutes
4. Turn the knob to “Pilot”. Light a long match or use a lighter, and then hold down the reset button. Put the flame near the pilot light orifice and keep the reset switch down until the pilot light is burning steadily.
5. Once the pilot light is lit, turn the valve to “On” and your furnace should turn on.
5 Reasons Why Your Pilot Light Goes Out
1. Pilot light opening is dirty
If you see a weak yellow flame, this is an indicator that your pilot light opening is dirty.
Your pilot light should be a strong blue flame.
You can try turning off your furnace to let it cool down and then try to insert a needle into the opening or use compressed air to clean it out.
You may have to disassemble the pilot light completely, but if you aren’t sure how, then it’s best left to the experts.
2. Broken flame sensor
If not, then it will shut down the gas valve to prevent any explosions. If your flame sensor is broken or dirty, then it will shut down your furnace.
3. Gas regulator
If you’re noticing the gas appliances in your house aren’t working, then the natural gas meter outside of your home may be faulty.
Before you call an HVAC technician, ensure that the other gas appliances in your home are working as usual. If not, then you may have a problem with the gas supply itself.
4. Gas is low
If your gas supply is low, your pilot light (as well as any other gas appliance) will fail to work.
Check if you have a standalone gas tank that supplies your home with fuel.
If it’s empty, you’ll need to have your gas supply refilled to restore the gas flow to your home.
5. Not enough air in the furnace room
If the room that houses your furnace is small, it’s possible that the lack of oxygen turns off the pilot light.
Try opening a window or door and see if that resolves the problem.
It’s also possible that an open window is causing a draft, so if your furnace pilot light doesn’t stay lit overnight, try shutting any windows or doors.
How to Repair Your Pilot Light
Unless you know what you’re doing, it isn’t advised to fix your own pilot light.
Unless you are well versed in furnace repair, you should not try to fix your pilot yourself.
If you have tried the 5 obvious fixes on this list and your pilot light doesn’t stay lit, then it’s best to call an HVAC professional for a maintenance visit.
Should Your Pilot Light Stay On?
Pilot lights are supposed to stay on, but when your furnace isn’t being used during the warmer months, you should turn off your pilot light to save on energy bills.
Some furnaces may have a pilot light that isn’t supposed to stay on, so check with your manufacturer as your pilot light may not need to be on all the time.
Can a Broken Pilot Light Be Dangerous?
A broken pilot light can be dangerous if the gas continues to vent.
The unlit gas may escape and reach the inside of your home, so it’s important to get your broken pilot light fixed.
If you smell gas, you should immediately leave your home and call an HVAC technician to come to fix the problem.
When to Call an HVAC Technician?
If you smell gas and your pilot light isn’t turning on, then you should call an HVAC technician immediately.
If your pilot light isn’t lighting, then you may need to have it replaced altogether.
To fix a broken pilot light, it can cost anywhere from $45 to $150 depending on where you live. If your pilot light keeps going out, then that’s an entirely different problem.