Why Does My Pilot Light Keep Going Out? (Most Likely Reason)

So the other day after a power outage, the pilot light wouldn’t light up! At first it was hard to see if it was on or not. After trying for more than 3 times, I realized there was a problem. 

If your pilot light routinely lets you down, don’t despair! In most cases, malfunctioning pilot lights can be fixed!

The most common reason a pilot light goes out is a faulty, kinked, or broken thermocouple. In many cases, you may be able to simply clean it, while in other cases a replacement will be needed. Other reasons why the pilot light won’t stay on are a dirty pilot tube or electrical problems like a bad solenoid. 

Pilot lights can go out for several reasons: dirt, drafts, stagnant air, faulty parts, ect. They are also one of the common problems as to why gas stoves and fireplaces automatically turn off.

It’s essential to identify the cause behind the malfunction and evaluate whether it would be best to contract a professional to take care of the problem, or if it’s a small enough fix that can be done DIY style.

This article will detail the importance of pilot lights, different causes for malfunction, possible remedies, as well as pointers as when you should contact a professional.

Let’s dive in!

What Is The Importance Of A Pilot Light? 

The purpose of a pilot light is to provide a small flame which lights the gas coming out of the main burner.

Safety Precautions

It’s important to observe safety precautions when dealing with electricity.

It is important to turn off the gas and ventilate your appliance before you begin any repair. Never use a lighter to light pilot light, as this could cause an explosion or fire. Always turn off the gas supply before repairing, as doing so will prevent accidents from occurring.

Consult the manufacturer’s manual for your appliance as well; it may have additional safety precautions that can help you avoid common problems like these!

Alright, so you’ve ensured safety precautions are being observed, and you’re ready to dig into the troubleshooting.

Let’s look at 11 different possible problems, and how you (and I) can troubleshoot them.

Spark Ignitor Malfunctioning

If the spark ignitor is malfunctioning, you’ll see that the pilot light will keep going out.

This can be a really frustrating and often confusing experience!

Here’s a helpful tip- to check if this is happening to your furnace and how to fix it, follow these steps:

  • Turn off all electrical appliances in the room where your furnace is located.
  • Open up your furnace and remove its cover plate by removing screws on each side of it with a Phillips-head screwdriver.
  • Take out any debris from around or inside where the wires connect into their connectors.This can prevent them from working properly later on so make sure there’s nothing stuck between them before proceeding with step 3 below!

Unclean Pilot Tube

If there’s still no luck, move on to checking the pilot tube. If your pilot light is not working properly, it could be due to a dirty pilot tube.

A pilot tube is the part of your gas fireplace that heats up when you turn on the ignition and ignites the fire.

The pilot tube works like a thermometer: if it’s too hot or too cold, then there will be an issue with your fireplace’s performance.

You can clean your own pilot tubes by using simple household items like baking soda and vinegar as well as old toothbrushes or rags dipped in water and vinegar. Do not use soap or other cleaning products as they may permanently damage your unit!

Dirty Thermocouple

The thermocouple is a small device that is used to detect gas flow. It’s located in the pilot light, and if the thermocouple gets dirty, it won’t work properly.

If you notice your pilot light isn’t working as it should be, then there may be something wrong with your thermocouple. You can clean this part of your gas fireplace by using a soft cloth or mild soap and water with no abrasive ingredients like ammonia or bleach.

Kinked Thermocouple

A kinked thermocouple is a device that connects to the gas line and senses when it has reached its maximum temperature.

If you have one of these, check to see if the pilot light is going out because of a kink in the hose or some other obstruction.

You can fix this by cleaning out any debris that may be lodged between your pilot light and its holder. This should help clear up any problems with your gas heater so that it works as intended.

My next step was to tackle the thermocouple to see if it was broken. This is a very important step that might help or solve your problem all together.

Broken Thermocouple

The most common cause of pilot light failures is a broken thermocouple. A thermocouple is a small metal rod that is located in the pilot tube, and it’s used to measure the temperature of the gas that comes from your gas supply pipe. When this device breaks, you’ll need to replace it.

Faulty Main Control Calve

Most likely, the culprit in an ignition issue is probably just a faulty main control valve.

The main control valve is a safety device that helps regulate gas flow into your pilot light and prevents dangerous overheating of flammable liquids or gases.

When this fails, it can cause issues with your pilot light going out as well as other problems like keeping water in place rather than escaping through leaks or cracks in pipes (which may lead to mold).

Flex Tube Problems

Flex tube is a flexible metal pipe that connects the gas valve to the pilot light.

If it breaks or kinks, you can have problems with your pilot light going out. If the flex tube gets dirty, this will also cause issues with your pilot light.

If you’ve made it to this step, I’m sorry! You must be frustrated but please stick with it. We’re almost at a solution!

Faulty Electrical Wiring

Electricity is exciting, extraordinarily helpful, but also dangerous.

What does electric wiring have to do with water heaters?

Your pilot light may be going out because of faulty electrical wiring. If you are not familiar with electrical work, call a professional to make sure that your pilot light is working properly before it becomes an issue that needs repair or replacement. It is also important not touch any wires while the pilot light is on as this could cause damage and even fire!

Let’s touch on one of the most important characters in this repair scene; the solenoid valve:

A solenoid valve controls airflow through a heating system by opening/closing its flapper valve when power has been applied (i.e., turned on).

The solenoid’s function can vary depending on the type of heating system being used; however, all will open during operation regardless if it’s hot water circulation or steam output required for heating purposes only.

Don’t be alarmed about solenoids and that they might be intimidating. Keep reading!

Bad Solenoid

If your pilot light keeps going out, there is a good chance it’s because of a bad solenoid.

A solenoid, as described above, is an electronic device that controls the flow of gas to your pilot light. This means that if it’s not working properly, you won’t be able to get any gas into the system and thus no electricity will flow through it either.

To test if this is indeed what’s causing your problem, simply (and carefully) press down on the lever at times when you would normally have been using electricity (like during dinner).

If it doesn’t work then there may be other issues with your HVAC unit itself or wiring within it. This would/ could cause problems as well. This is the perfect example as to why it’s so important to isolate what specifically could be causing the problem, and why if you aren’t able to do it yourself, it would be wise to contract a professional.

This next one is more of a one size fix all solution that usually works for most:

Gas Flow Problems

Poor gas flow can cause a pilot light to keep going out.

The first thing to check is the gas valve, which is usually located behind the stove or on a wall near where you can turn it on and off.

If this seems like a good place for your pilot light to be staying lit, there may be other issues at play here. It’s important that you check all possible causes of poor gas flow before replacing parts or attempting repairs yourself.

When checking for faulty parts, don’t freak out, rather, look around first—it’s likely that some sort of leak has occurred somewhere along its route from central heating system (where heat enters) through pipes inside walls and floors (where cool air exits).

If nothing else works well enough without breaking down completely then consider installing new ones altogether so they work properly again.

Before installing, however, the next step may be to check if you have a draft.

Drafts Or Lack Of Airflow

Drafts or lack of airflow can cause your pilot light to go out.

If you have a draft, it will pull heat from the stovetop and cause it to cool down. The water that is left in the pot will then evaporate and leave behind condensation on the glass lid or inside of the stovetop.

This causes moisture build up which leads to decreased efficiency of your stovetop, which in turn causes more moisture buildup and so on until eventually there is no way for this cycle to stop!

There are two main types of drafts: natural ones created by windows opening/closing, doors opening/closing etc. And mechanical ones created by fans or other mechanical systems like duct work etc., but regardless they both need attention so we’ll talk about both here!

If you’ve gotten to this point, you may be at your wits’ end. There’s no shame in calling a professional, you’ve done your due diligence!

When To Call A Professional

If you’ve taken into consideration everything discussed above and still seems to be facing the frustrating pilot light problem, it is indeed time to contact a professional.

If you have a problem with your boiler or water heater, consider calling an expert who can identify the source of the problem and provide solutions.

If your furnace is running hot or cold and doesn’t seem to be getting enough air through it, then it might be time for some maintenance work on that unit as well—and if that’s not possible then at least contact someone who knows what they’re doing about heating systems so they can come out and assess things for you.

It may seem frustrating to have to call a professional for help, but it may be the best (and only) option to get the ignition problem handled safely and efficiently.


The pilot light is a vital component of your home. It’s the only way to put fuel in the combustion chamber and ignite it. If you notice any of these problems, try to isolate what specifically could be the cause, and call for service immediately because they can be dangerous for your home.

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