Is It Dangerous If Your Furnace’s Pilot Light Goes Out?

If you have an older furnace, there is a small blue flame that is always lit below your furnace; that’s the pilot light. If you’ve noticed the blue flame before, but you find yourself without heat and an unlit pilot light, there’s probably a number of questions running through your head. Wondering if it’s dangerous if your pilot light goes out on your furnace is a common concern that we’re happy to address for you. 

Lucky for you, Redman Services is here to save the day. We’ll explain what your pilot light does, why it might go out, what you should do if it does go out, and why it could be dangerous if your pilot light goes out.

How Does a Pilot Light on a Furnace Work?

The pilot light is responsible for combusting your fuel source such as natural gas. Furnaces push fuel into the combustion chamber where it waits to be ignited by the pilot light. When the pilot lights, it uses a small gas supply of its own that contacts the igniter on the pilot. This lights the fuel, supplying the flame to combust fuel and heat your home.

This is how most older furnaces work. In newer models, pilots have been replaced by an electronic ignition system that handles the operation of the furnace pilot light on its own. These types of furnaces don’t require you to manually relight the pilot flame should it go out.  Most furnaces manufactured since 2010 use an electronic ignition system.

Why Did My Furnace’s Pilot Light Go Out?

There are a number of reasons why your furnace’s pilot light might go out. First, locate the gas valve that leads into your furnace. Check to make sure that the gas valve is in the “on” or “pilot” position. If that knob is in the right position, call your gas company to make sure you’re up-to-date on your current bills or if there is a local disruption in service.

A lot of times, your pilot light goes out because your furnace needs to be cleaned. You should have your furnace cleaned and inspected by a professional HVAC company like Redman Services every year in the fall. You want to do this before you start relying on your furnace regularly for heat. Airflow issues, dirty thermocouples, or other grimey parts may cause your pilot light to go out. 

If you haven’t changed your furnace’s air filter within 90 days, that is often a quick fix that can restore heat to your home. You can buy most furnace filters at your local hardware store. Take a look at your furnace filter to see if it’s dirty before replacing it. 

Is It Dangerous If My Furnace’s Pilot Light Goes Out?

With older furnaces, if the pilot light goes out, there is a fear that gas is still being supplied to your furnace and building up in your home. If there is gas buildup and the standing pilot flame relights, it could cause an explosion. If your heat stops working, or your power goes out, and you notice the smell of rotten eggs, then you have a gas leak. Leave your home and call for emergency services right away.

However, this is much less of a concern with more modern furnace models. All furnaces made within the last 20 years or so are equipped with a fail safe electrical shut-off valve. This valve operates automatically and shuts off gas flow as soon as the standing pilot light goes out, preventing any risk of gas buildup. However, failsafe mechanisms can fail. If you ever smell rotten eggs, that is a sign of a gas leak.

What Should I Do If My Furnace’s Pilot Light Goes Out?

With most modern furnaces, relighting your pilot light is as simple as pressing a button. Older furnaces may need to be relit manually with a grill lighter. If you are uncomfortable with lighting your furnace yourself, call Redman Services for help. We can also assess why your pilot light went out and provide the necessary repairs or cleaning to prevent your pilot light from going out again. 

Redman Services Can Restore Heat to Your House. Call Us Today

For all your heating and cooling questions or issues, contact Redman Services in Columbia City, IN. We’re here to help day or night to keep your home toasty warm all winter long.