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Why Does My Furnace Pilot Light Keep Going Out?

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The winter can be brutal, and your home’s furnace is your greatest asset to make sure you stay warm throughout those subzero temperatures. However, we’ve had that moment as homeowners where we wake up to the pilot light going out, and the house is an absolute icebox. If this issue keeps on popping up, it could be because of a deeper problem with your gas furnace that is leaving it unable to share the warmth. Here are some of the issues that you’ll want to keep an eye out for.

The heating system is too old.


If you notice that you have had repeated issues with your furnace pilot light, the age of your heating system could be what’s causing the problem. A pilot light may not be able to function with either a gas or electronic ignition if a heater has maxed out on its life span. Most systems, with proper upkeep, can last 20-25 years. An older furnace will have a difficult time maintaining the pilot light’s flame to keep the heat rolling throughout the home. Preventive maintenance, like regular cleanup of your unit, extends the life of the system. There’s also a good chance that replacing equipment could help to get the system back on track.

There’s airflow you don’t know about.


If it’s easy to restart your pilot light after it blows out overnight, it’s possible you have a draft rolling in through the bottom of your furnace that you don’t know about. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for a leak in the furnace’s output duct. These leaks can cause air to blow the pilot light out. There are really quick fixes to prevent this from happening, starting with keeping all air registers in your home open and clear. Be sure to also consider the outdoor conditions. If it’s a windy day, a strong draft from outside could find its way to the pilot light opening to extinguish the flame. Don’t keep windows or doors open too long to let that draft in.

You may have a problem with the gas regulator.


A broken or bad gas regulator could affect not only the furnace but all the other gas appliances in your home like your stove or clothes dryer, as well. This may indicate that your furnace isn’t getting enough gas to keep the pilot light lit. It’s important to have a certified professional assess the regulator or potential issues with the gas line. You can prevent numerous home accidents by making sure that this element of your heating system is operating properly.

Dirt buildup is blocking the pilot light.


Dirt buildup can cause repeated issues with a gas furnace’s pilot light. This buildup of dirt and crud in the intake valve restricts the oxygen that your gas furnace needs to keep the pilot light going properly and without interruption. However, cleanup is actually fairly easy for any homeowner to do. A wire brush, paper clip, or something similar can be used to remove dirt and dust away from the pilot light mouth.

You have a faulty thermocouple.


You may not have known about this piece of equipment, but a faulty thermocouple can lead to malfunctions within your heating system and the pilot light not doing its job. A thermocouple is a safety device on your heating system that determines if your pilot light is lit. If a thermocouple is dirty or broken, it shuts off the gas supply. If you have any questions or concerns, make a call today to a certified heating professional who can get to the bottom of your furnace troubles.