Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit

Does your water heater or heating system have a pilot light that won’t stay lit?

When you have no hot water or heat in the house there are a few things to check. Many times it will be the pilot light that has has gone out.

There can be a few causes for this to happen. The utility company may have been working on the line and air got into the line which caused the pilot to go out. A strong gust of wind got down the flue and blew the pilot out. Or the thermo-coupler is bad and won’t allow the pilot to stay lit.

The first thing to do is relight the pilot. To relight the pilot, you need to turn the control knob on the gas valve to Pilot position, press and hold it in while lighting the pilot. You will need to hold the button down for about thirty seconds. When you release the button, if the pilot goes out, you more than likely have a bad thermocoupler.

All of these appliances have a safety feature to keep the gas valve from opening if the pilot is not lit.

Along with the pilot light is sensor called a thermocouple. This device is heated by the pilot light and sends a millivolt signal to the gas valve that it is safe to operate. If the pilot is not lit nothing will happen.

Over time the thermocouple can become covered with carbon which will prevent it from sensing the pilot. You can try cleaning the carbon off to see it that is the issue. If it still does not allow the pilot to stay lit, you will need to change the thermocouple. You can pick up a universal one for about $10 at any hardware or home repair store.

Each unit is slightly different as to where the pilot and thermocouple are located. But they are very similar in how they are installed.

Head over to the Next Page to see how to change this device.


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  1. It’s best to replace thermocoupler with same size and length found this as a problem with DIY most heating and cooling supply will sell you correct length if not sure take model number and serial number and manufacturer with you.

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