If you’ve had a gas fireplace for a while, you might be familiar with your pilot light. However, if you’re new to owning a gas fireplace, you may be wondering what a pilot light is.
Either way, new and experienced users could find that their gas fireplaces just aren’t turning on, nothing is happening when you hit all the right buttons, and your pilot light refuses to stay lit. How frustrating!
There are multiple reasons why your pilot is going out. These can be attributed to a problem with the pilot light itself, a gas issue, or user error. Pilot lights can be tricky, and there are many moving parts. If one part goes down, the pilot light won’t stay lit.
Don’t feel too overwhelmed just yet! Many of these fixes are very easy to remedy and can be done at home. There are free tutorials online to help walk you through any repairs you may need to make, including replacing parts and devices you can use to check your pilot light.
If you don’t feel comfortable tackling your gas fireplace, contact a professional repair service instead.
What is a Fireplace Pilot, and What does it do?
Typically, propane appliances (especially older models) have a device known as a pilot light. It is a small, pronged mechanism that produces a thumbnail-sized flame that is always lit. Pilot lights are used to refire main burners and prevent accidental gas leaks.
Many newer devices use electric ignitions and will not have a pilot light. Consult your user manual for your gas fireplace to be sure of which type of igniter you have.
Is an Unlit Pilot Light Dangerous?
Pilot lights blow out, and sometimes it is not because it is broken. You should only worry if your pilot light continuously blows out, and you must relight it more than once per season.
Pilot lights do not leak carbon monoxide when they go out. But if the problem is continuous, it could be aggravating and time-consuming. If you choose to blow out your pilot light voluntarily, it is important to know how to light it properly. Check your gas fireplace instructions and follow them carefully.
Improper lighting of your pilot light could be a factor in why it’s going out, after all!
Basic Steps to Relight your Pilot Light:
These are some basic steps no matter the make, model, or year of your fireplace.
- Turn off your fireplace.
- Turn your gas valve control knob to “pilot.”
- Do not force pilot light controls or use oil if they are sticky. You could damage them and cause leaks.
- Press your pilot light button while holding a flame to the pilot burner. If it is out of reach, use needle-nose pliers or a longer match. The pilot burner could also be behind a small panel.
- Hold down your pilot button for 60 seconds after your pilot burner is lit. The flame should remain lit after releasing the button. If the light goes out, you may need to assess your pilot light. (See below)
- Turn your gas valve knob to “On.”
- Replace all doors or panels you may have removed.
Relighting the pilot should be easy and straightforward after replacing your propane tank or refilling your natural gas. Ensure to do these steps properly and in order, as a faulty relight could cause explosions, injury, and death.
Why does my Pilot Light not Stay on?
You’ve relit your pilot properly or have done so in the past, but it just won’t stay on! It keeps blowing out or never lights at all. Sometimes this can be an easy fix.
Replacement parts for your pilot light are relatively cheap and easy to find, so don’t sweat it if something isn’t working.
The problem is usually:
- The Gas
- The User
- The Pilot Light
These are broken down into smaller issues, and we’ll explain each of them as we go.
Before pulling apart your gas furnace and trying to figure out if there’s a hardware issue, check your gas. Is your pilot’s light flame low and sputtering? Make sure you have gas in your propane tank or your natural gas tank.
Low Gas Pressure
If all is well with your external gas sources, you may need to adjust the gas pressure inside your regulator. There is an adjuster screw to turn to moderate the amount of gas your pilot light gets.
If you’re having trouble with this one, make sure to read your guide to your gas fireplace, look up a video, or contact a professional.
User error happens, and sometimes to the best of us. One little mistake could be the reason your pilot light keeps going out. This could be that:
- Gas valve is off. The red valve from your gas source to the internal workings of your fireplace is off. Make sure it’s on.
- Empty Tanks. Is your propane or natural gas tank empty? Change them out or fill them up.
- Too much ventilation. If you suspect the pilot light is being blown out, close your flue or windows where too much air is coming in. A word of caution: Normal Pilot Lights are not blown out easily, so make sure to check your device if you think it’s just the wind.
The Pilot Light
The pilot light is broken down into a few parts: the thermocouple, the solenoid, the pilot tube, and the pilot head.
This is a small rod right beside your pilot light that takes in heat and sends the charge to the rest of the device, telling it to keep flowing gas. Check your thermocouple rod.
- Warped? Is the rod below the flame or bent away from it? It may need replacing.
- Loose? Check the connection from the rod to the rest of the device. Are any screws loose? Tighten them by hand.
- Dirty? Is it black and covered in the carbon buildup? Clean it with steel wool, no soap or water. Clear any loose debris with compressed air to avoid any problems.
- Faulty? If you have a flame on it and hold your pilot button down for 60 seconds or more, and you’ve checked everything else on this list, then your thermocouple may just be going bad. Replace it and try to relight.
This plunger is right below your pilot button that allows the gas from your tank into the pilot tube. If it won’t stay open or if it is broken, you will need to replace it.
This tube connects from the thermocouple and pilot head back to the gas regulator from the solenoid and pilot button. The tube is removable, so you can remove the tube and replace it if you see a kink. However, don’t try to bend out the kink, you could puncture a hole in the tube.
The pilot tube could get clogged by carbon and buildup due to use. Do not stick a wire or any kind of cleaner in the tube, used compressed air to blow any blockages out.
This is the piece that you’ll see the flame come through.
- Dirty? Same as with the thermocouple and pilot tube, use steel wool and compressed air to clean it. Do not stick anything into the pilot’s head to remove blockages.
- Bent? Do not try to bend it back into place, replace the head.
If your pilot light keeps going out after you turn it on, it’s surely frustrating. But there are things you can do to fix, adjust, and repair it.
Check your gas, pilot light, and steps you take to ensure that you can keep using your gas fireplace.