Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit: How Do I Fix It?

Are you facing the frustrating issue of a pilot light that won’t stay lit on your heating system? Whether it’s a boiler or a furnace, this common problem can leave you in the cold, especially during those chilly months. In this article, we will dive into the common reasons why a pilot light might not stay lit, provide a guide on how to light it, and discuss when it’s time to search for furnace repair near me or boiler repair.

Understanding the Pilot Light Issue

Common Reasons for a Pilot Light Failure

  1. Faulty Thermocouple: This safety device shuts off the gas if the pilot light goes out. If it’s faulty or misaligned, it can prevent the pilot light from staying lit.
  2. Dirty Pilot Orifice: A clogged pilot orifice can cause a weak flame or prevent the pilot light from igniting at all. This can be caused by lack of proper maintenance or if the pilot has been off for an extended period of time. i.e. it was turned off for the summer
  3. Ventilation Issues: Poor ventilation can lead to the pilot light being extinguished by drafts. This could be a problem with the chimney, blockage with in the heater or most maintenance related issues.

The Shift to Electronic Ignition in New Heating Systems

It’s important to note that newer heating systems have moved away from the traditional pilot light and now use electronic ignition. These systems are more energy-efficient and typically require less maintenance. If you’re consistently facing pilot light issues, it may be a sign to consider upgrading to a newer system with electronic ignition as part of your boiler repair or furnace upgrade plan.

How to Light a Pilot Light in Most Gas Boilers

If your pilot light has gone out, here’s a general guide to relight it:

  1. Turn Off the System: Ensure your boiler or furnace is completely turned off.
  2. Locate the Pilot Light: Refer to your owner’s manual for its location.
  3. Ignite the Pilot: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to light the pilot. This usually involves holding a button while lighting the pilot with a match or lighter. Once the pilot flame is lit proceed to hold the button on an additional 30 seconds.
  4. Check the Flame: The pilot light should have a strong blue flame. If it’s weak or yellow, it indicates a problem that may require professional boiler repair or furnace servicing.

DIY Thermocouple Replacement Guide

If you’ve narrowed down the issue with your pilot light to a faulty thermocouple, you might consider a DIY replacement before calling for professional boiler repair or searching for “furnace repair near me”. Here’s a basic guide to help you through the process:

  1. Safety First: Before you start, ensure the gas supply to your boiler or furnace is completely turned off. Safety should always be your top priority.
  2. Access the Thermocouple: Consult your system’s manual to locate and access the thermocouple. Typically, it’s near the pilot light.
  3. Remove the Old Thermocouple: The thermocouple is usually held in place by a bracket and connected to a gas control valve. Carefully disconnect it from the bracket and valve. You may need a wrench to loosen the nut connecting it to the valve.
  4. Purchase the Right Replacement: Take the old thermocouple with you to a hardware store to ensure you get the correct replacement. Thermocouples come in different sizes and types, so getting an exact match is crucial.
  5. Install the New Thermocouple: Position the new thermocouple in the same place as the old one, ensuring it is securely connected to the gas control valve and correctly positioned in the bracket. It should be close enough to the pilot light to sense its heat.
  6. Test Your Work: Once installed, turn the gas back on and relight the pilot light following the standard procedure. Observe if the pilot light stays lit. If it does, you’ve successfully replaced the thermocouple.
  7. Monitor the System: After the replacement, monitor your heating system for a day or two to ensure everything is working correctly.

Note: If you’re not confident in your ability to safely perform this task, or if the pilot light issue persists after replacing the thermocouple, it’s advisable to seek professional help. Sometimes, what seems like a simple fix can be a part of a more complex issue that requires expert boiler repair or furnace servicing.

When to Call for Professional Help

If you’ve tried relighting your pilot light and it still won’t stay lit, it may be time to search for “furnace repair near me”. Professional technicians can assess issues like a faulty thermocouple, clogged pilot orifice, or ventilation problems. Regular maintenance can also prevent such issues, so consider scheduling routine tune-ups.


Dealing with a pilot light that won’t stay lit can be a hassle, but understanding the common causes can help you troubleshoot the issue. Remember, for complex problems or consistent failures, seeking professional boiler repair or furnace repair services is recommended. And if you find yourself frequently dealing with pilot light issues, exploring newer heating systems with electronic ignition could be a more reliable and energy-efficient option for your home.

Should You Turn Off Your Gas Boiler Pilot Light in Summer?

In the heart of Delaware County, PA, where boilers are a staple in many homes, a common question arises each summer: “Should I turn off my gas boiler pilot light?” This query is more than a matter of routine maintenance—it’s about optimizing energy efficiency and ensuring safety. At McGinley Services, experts in boiler repair and replacement, we understand the intricacies of this decision and are here to offer our guidance.

Weighing the Benefits and Drawbacks

Energy Savings

Turning off your pilot light can result in energy savings. While the pilot light consumes a relatively small amount of gas, eliminating this usage over several months can add up.

Enhanced Safety

With the pilot light off, you eliminate a continuous flame, which, albeit small, poses a minimal risk of ignition when not in use.

However, there are considerations to bear in mind:

Potential for Moisture Buildup

In some boilers, the absence of a pilot light can lead to moisture accumulation, potentially damaging internal components.

Relighting Challenges

Come fall, relighting the pilot can be a hassle, especially for those not familiar with the process. This could necessitate professional boiler repair services.

The Shift to Electronic Ignition in Modern High Efficiency Gas Boilers

It’s essential to recognize that many new heating systems have implemented intermittent electronic ignition, removing the need for a continuous pilot light. These systems are not just more energy-efficient but also safer with the addition of sensors, safety switches and algorithms to determine operation. If your boiler is on the older side, considering high efficiency boiler repair and replacement options would be a wise choice.

Relighting Your Gas Boiler’s Pilot Light: A Step-by-Step Guide

Should you decide to turn off your pilot light over the summer, here’s how to relight it:

  1. Find the Instructions: Check your boiler for a label with specific lighting instructions.
  2. Safety First: Lower the thermostat and shut off the boiler’s electric supply.
  3. Access the Pilot Light: Remove the access panel if necessary.
  4. Light the Pilot: Adhere to your boiler’s unique instructions. Typically, this involves pressing a pilot light button while igniting the pilot with a match or lighter.
  5. Inspect the Flame: A properly lit pilot light should emit a steady blue flame. If the flame is yellow or orange, it’s advisable to seek professional boiler repair.
  6. Reassemble and Restart: After lighting the pilot, replace the access cover and restore the electric and thermostat settings.

If your pilot light is not staying lit there are quite a few reasons for this outlined here.

Time for Boiler Repair or Replacement?

Summer is also a prime time to evaluate your boiler’s condition. Frequent breakdowns, strange noises, or inefficiencies are indicators that it may be time for a boiler repair or replacement. Upgrading to a newer model, especially one with electronic ignition, can be more energy-efficient and cost-effective in the long term. It’s an investment in your home’s comfort and safety.

Wrapping Up: To Turn Off or Not?

Deciding whether to turn off your gas boiler pilot light in summer is not just about energy savings; it’s about assessing the overall health and efficiency of your heating system. If you’re uncertain about the best course of action for your home, or if you’re considering a transition to a newer, more efficient system, McGinley Services is here to assist. Our expertise in boiler repair and replacement in Delaware County, PA, positions us uniquely to address your heating needs with precision and care.

Regular maintenance and informed decisions about your heating system lead to long-term benefits. Whether it’s a simple question about your pilot light or a comprehensive plan for boiler replacement, McGinley Services is your trusted partner for all your heating needs. Get an estimate online to replace your boiler for free.