Maintaining Your Heater and Diagnosing Pilot Light Issues During Cold Weather


A pilot light is a small gas flame that is used to ignite the main burner on a furnace or stove. If your pilot light goes out, it can be difficult to get it relit. Gas heaters, whether they warm up air or water in a home, rely on a pilot light to trigger the flame of the actual heater. If this pilot light ever goes out, the heater has no way of actually turning on to heat the water or air that your particular type of heater circulates to warm the house or other elements.

Knowing how to maintain the heater and diagnose everyday issues with pilot lights will help you when calling for help!

How to Maintain and Diagnose Pilot Light Issues

Corroded Pilot Tip

Gas is funneled to the tip of a pilot light via a supply line that is connected to a natural gas or propane supply. As the gas passes through the tip of the pilot light, the pilot light ignites it. This is either electronic or manual. Over time, this tip can become corroded with soot and residue, blocking the gas from exiting the tip. It must be cleaned to operate at full capacity.

Size of Flame

Most furnaces have an adjustment element on the pilot light that allows manual adjusting of the size of the pilot flame. The exact location of the adjustment element varies by heater and manufacturer, so always refer to your manual or the pilot light instruction label, which is usually near the pilot light on a wall panel.

Insufficient Gas

Another culprit for not a large enough flame is insufficient gas. Alternatively, the pilot light may not stay lit after initially being triggered. First, make sure that you have sufficient gas in your reservoir by checking the pressure gauge on your supply tank. Also, make sure that all of the gas supply lines are in the “open” position.

Bad Thermocouple

The thermocouple is the co-pilot to the pilot light in electronic heaters. It senses when the flame of the pilot is hot enough to trigger ignition of the natural gas or propane that fuels the burner. In proper working conditions, the thermocouple will open the main gas valve in the pilot housing to ignite the burners. When it isn’t working properly, it won’t sense the heat from the pilot flame and thus refuses to open the valve to the burners.

If your pilot light is out and need help with any of these issues, please call Clear Drain Plumbing!

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