Don’t let a faulty pilot light ruin your day, read on to discover how to fix it easily and get on with your day. Pilot light issues are one of the quintessential issues associated with our gas-fed appliances at home.
It is such a normalized issue because it is a very useful safety feature that has been designed to highlight a more serious issue that must be resolved. So, although your pilot light issue may be a little frustrating, it is significant to address its cause.
This article will address the most common issues associated with gas heated appliances illustrating how to identify and resolve them with ease.
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What is the Purpose of a Pilot Light?
Although it is reasonably typical terminology, many are unaware of what a pilot light does. You may be aware that when it goes out, you have a problem. However, it is worth understanding its function exactly.
Gas-fueled appliances like water heaters, furnaces, and fireplaces rely on combustion to operate. This is necessary not only to produce the essential heat but also as a means of pressurizing systems like water heaters.
An ignition source is critical to creating the all-important combustion, where the pilot light comes into play. The light is a constantly lit flame that can be used at any time to ignite the system and begin generating the required heat in your home.
A pilot light is a very rudimentary device that is not just a course of ignition. It is a flame that is fed continually by a tiny bit of gas at all times. It may be regarded as wasteful gas use.
However, it is, in fact, a clever safety feature. But using a tiny hole in the gas pipe guarantees continual gas flow, preventing a build-up that can cause create dangerous and easily ignited leaks.
Moreover, when the pilot light goes out, it is a clear indication that there is an issue with your system. It can be anything from a gas blockage or a mechanical failure. So, if it is out, then you know you have a problem to address.
If you are unfortunate enough to experience a pilot light outage, then it is helpful to have an idea of what could be causing it. Therefore, a list has been created below to help you tackle this issue immediately.
Dirty Pilot Light Hole
The pilot light is a critical component for your heating systems at home. However, its design of it is deceptively rudimentary, which can cause some issues.
The light is fed essentially by a pinhole in the gas pipe just before the on/off valve for the appliance. As you will be aware, the flame is visible from the naked eye and can usually be observed through a purposeful design observation hole.
This hole may be small, but it often needs better protection. Therefore, it is susceptible to dirt and debris entering the space and quickly causing a tiny pipe blockage.
Most often, these appliances are tucked away and out of sight due to their ugly and cumbersome nature. Unfortunately, doing this provides the perfect environment for dirt to build up and interfere with your pilot flame.
The best method of testing and resolving this issue is to remove the casing from your appliance so you can access the gas exit point. Then, observe the hole, and shine a light on the area to see if there are any obvious obstructions.
Be careful not to push any surrounding debris into the hole, as it will make it far more difficult to remove and fix. Instead, use a damp cloth to clean the area and the entry point and complete the pilot reignition process.
Gas Feeder Hose Kink
Gas is fed into your appliances through a long and complicated underground network that constitutes a national gas system. However, even with this highly robust system, there can be issues with your gas supply closer to home.
Ironically, the long and complicated process of gas getting to your home can be hindered by a standard flex hose that is used to install your appliance. This hose style is typically used to make any appliance much easier to install, allowing far more flexibility in placement and design.
Unfortunately, the flexible nature of the hose can be kinked reasonably easily, preventing or reducing the amount of gas that can flow through the system. It is considered one of the most common reasons for faulty pilot lights, often occurring early on after the installation.
Fortunately, a kinked gas hose is generally straightforward to fix. In addition, you can often manually unkink the pipe, which should restore everything to normal.
If you begin to smell gas during the unraveling process, it may have created a hole in the hose. In this case, turn off the gas supply immediately. It will most likely be a simple fix requiring a new flex hose to be installed.
Any modern gas-fueled appliance with a pilot light will also have a thermocouple as an integral safety mechanism. This innovative device detects if the pilot light is on and shuts off the gas supply if it is not.
The purpose is to prevent the pilot hole from leaking excessive dangerous gas into your home. However, it is also a very delicate device that can easily malfunction or be misaligned.
Examine the thermocouple. Its sensor should just touch the pilot hole. Often these delicate sensors are accidentally damaged and misaligned, which will interfere with the sensor readings. Attempt to gently bend the sensor back into the appropriate position and begin the reignition sequence to test.
Alternatively, the thermocouple could simply have broken down. Look at the gauge; if the reading is less than 20MV, it clearly indicates that it is at fault. Unfortunately, this will permanently impede gas flow, and it will need to be replaced by a certified gas engineer.
Malfunctioning Main Control Valve
If you have established that none of the above reasons are the source of the pilot light outage, you can move to a more severe issue. Most often, this will come in the form of a broken-down main control valve.
The main control valve is the main gas junction box, the main line of defense for restricting gas flow. Most often, these devices are also equipped with additional safety sensors and features.
Ruling out all of the above options first is the most effective means of identifying it as the source of the problem. It is also one of the most significant features to replace, which is why it should also be kept until last.
Like a number of gas components, they are considered unsafe to repair or attempt to recondition. Therefore, you must contact a gas professional to remove and install a new valve system.
None of The Above?
If you have ready this far then it is likely that none of the most common issues above have been your problem. Unfortunately, there are some issues that are less common and simply happen at random.
I you are one of the unlucky few then you should always consult a technician who is certified in gas safety. Make sure you allow someone with professional experience try to solve this for you.
Like many of your homes utilities, they come with a certain danger if they are mishandled. Therfore, even if you are a keen DIYer, you should leave it to the experts.
Considering its global abundance, gas is one of the most dangerous materials we use on a daily basis. Over time the systems and mechanisms involved have been refined to make them as safe as possible. However, with the abundance of the components, they will inevitably break down over time.
When your pilot light starts to have issues, it is generally an excellent and clear indicator that you must investigate the problems immediately. It is a simple and safe symptom to highlight a more serious issue.
However, by following the diagnosis and repair methods above, you will easily mitigate any of these issues quickly. So you don’t need to panic next time your pilot light won’t turn.