What To Do If The Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit

If your pilot light won’t stay lit, your appliance isn’t going to function properly. Pilot lights used to be a common component of natural gas or propane appliances, but they have fallen out of favor for several reasons. Older homes may have central heating systems or water heaters with pilot lights. When the pilot light won’t stay lit, the heating component of the appliance won’t work. Do not try to reignite the pilot light. You can call a professional technician, but he or she is probably going to tell you that it’s time to replace your appliance.

The Problem With Pilot Lights

Burner Pilot Light

Pilot lights are a safety hazard. They are inefficient, wasting power (and your money!). Many issues have been found with pilot lights in the past, but these are the most common problems.

Dangerous Gases

A pilot light is connected to a gas line, which keeps it continuously aflame. When the pilot light won’t stay lit, the gas may still escape from the pipe. Instead of feeding a fire, though, it goes into your home. Pilot lights have a safety valve, which should cut the gas when the light goes out. If the valve is functioning properly, it will close and gases won’t escape. But if it is not working, your home may be filling with a dangerous gas. Natural gas and propane are odorless, but the gas companies typically add a sulfur compound to make it smell. However, the sulfur may be difficult to detect, especially if it’s cold out or the gas pipes are rusty.

Potential Explosions

Even if the amount of gas leaking from the unlit pilot light isn’t enough to make you sick, it could cause an explosion if some other form of heat energy is introduced. This is one reason that we don’t recommend a DIY approach if your pilot light won’t stay lit. A cigarette lighter or even just static electricity could be enough to cause a fire or an explosion in your home. Nationwide Insurance cites extinguished pilot lights as one of the top fire hazards in your home. It’s worth repeating: don’t try to relight your pilot light.

Wasted Energy

Although inefficiency isn’t going to kill you or burn your house down, it’s still a good reason to replace that appliance if the pilot light won’t stay lit. The problem with the pilot light is that it’s constantly on. The vast majority of the time, it isn’t being used, so your appliance is less efficient and has a lower AFUE rating. The gas needed to keep the pilot light lit when not in use costs homeowners money. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors states that pilot lights waste more than 20% of the gas used in America. One mathematician found that keeping two pilot lights on indefinitely cost him an additional $170 every year, or $14 each month. In his words, “That’s a lot of burritos!”

Pilot Light Alternatives

With the exception of fireplaces and gas stoves, most modern appliances have done away with pilot lights altogether.  Several safer alternatives are available, including:

  • Piezoelectricity, which uses pressure to generate a spark.
  • High-voltage electricity, which initiates an electrical arc between electrodes near the gas flow.
  • Hot-surface ignitors, which use a durable conducting material to provide the necessary heat.

So What Do I Do If The Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit?

Contact Newcomb and Company. You can find websites that will give you instructions on how to relight your pilot light, but it just isn’t worth the risk to your body or your home. If your pilot light isn’t working properly, call the experts. We can figure out the problem and help you find the best solution for your budget. We’ll have you warmed up in no time!

Need help? Call now.