Older boilers are equipped with a pilot light, a blue flame which is usually visible through a front panel, but some times these boilers can cause problems.
The pilot light is a small flame that is designed to be constantly lit. When gas to the main burner is engaged, the pilot light ignites that gas.
The main gas will also go unlit if the pilot light isn’t lit. If this is the case, the boiler itself won’t ignite, and you’ll have no central heating.
Here’s what to do if your pilot light goes out.
What is a Pilot Light?
Pilot lights are ubiquitous on older boilers, but they’re almost entirely absent on newer boilers. Newer boilers have modern electric ignition systems that don’t rely on any sort of pilot light.
Pilot lights are small blues flames visible through the front panel of your boiler. A small quantity of gas constantly ignites them. The pilot light is designed to ignite the main gas burner.
If your boiler has a pilot light, it’s sensible to consider replacing the boiler if you’re starting to experience other issues or poor heating performance.
If Your Pilot Light Isn’t Blue
If your pilot light is on but looks a yellow or orange colour, there’s a chance your boiler is emitting carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide poisoning is potentially fatal.
In this situation, call one of our gas engineers right away.
Why Does My Pilot Light Keep Going Out?
There are four main reasons why your pilot light might have blown out:
- Draught and strong winds
- A broken or faulty thermocouple
- Accumulated dirt around the orifice
- Problem with the gas supply
Draught and strong winds
The most common cause of a pilot light blowing out is wind or draughts. A strong wind or draught could feasibly blow out the pilot light if the boiler is installed in the garage or utility room.
In this situation, relighting the pilot light yourself should be very safe. However, it’s not advisable unless you can locate the manual for your specific make and model of boiler, which will advise you of the correct protocol to follow.
A broken or faulty thermocouple
A broken or faulty thermocouple will prevent your pilot light from operating correctly.
Pilot lights are equipped with thermocouples, which are sensors that shut the gas supply off when the flame is off. If this mechanism fails, the chance is your pilot light will shut off, along with its gas supply.
In the rare event that the sensor also fails, the gas can leak into the room. This is exceptionally unlikely, but if it happens, call one of our Gas Safe engineer immediately. If you suspect a gas leak, call the National Gas Emergencies number on 0800 111 999.
Accumulated dirt around the orifice
If the flame’s orifice is dirty or clogged, the pilot light will struggle to remain on. In this situation, the orifice may need cleaning or replacing altogether. Again, this is a job for a heating engineer.
Problem with the gas supply
If your boiler isn’t receiving gas, your pilot light won’t light. Ask neighbours if they’re also experiencing issues, and contact your utility company.
What Should I Do If The Pilot Light Goes Out?
If the pilot light goes out, but you can’t smell gas, you’re safe, so don’t panic!
Before doing anything, locate your boiler’s manual or look it up online. It will have a section on the pilot light, along with instructions on how to light it.
How To Relight a Manual Pilot Light
While you could feasibly attempt to relight the pilot light yourself, this isn’t recommended. If you have gas experience, you can attempt to manually relight it but please consult your boiler’s manual before starting. If you have no gas qualifications please do not attempt to manually relight the pilot light.
How To Relight an Automatic Pilot Light
If the boiler has an automatic pilot light, it should say so on the front.
There will also be no “pilot” setting available. To relight an automatic pilot light, follow these steps. Consult your boiler’s manual before starting.
- Switch off the electricity to the boiler. There should be a switch or a breaker.
- Turn all thermostats down to the lowest possible setting.
- Remove the panel.
- Turn the gas off at the control knob.
- Let any gas dissipate over 15 minutes or so.
- Turn the gas on.
- Switch the breaker or electrical switch back on. You should hear the automatic lighting system click. The pilot light should ignite - if it doesn’t, it’s time to call our heating engineers.
Is Lighting The Pilot Light Safe?
Pilot lights are equipped with thermocouples which shut the gas off when the pilot light is off. It’s extremely unlikely that this will go wrong, but you can’t rule out the possibility entirely.
The key is to ensure you can’t smell gas at all. If you even smell a whiff of gas when your pilot light is off signals an emergency, and you should call your utility company’s emergency line. You can also call the National Gas Emergencies number on 0800 111 999.
Never attempt to relight a pilot light unless you’re absolutely sure of what you’re doing. Ensure you consult the manual prior to taking any steps towards relighting it.
- Call our Gas Safe engineers immediately if you’re ever in doubt about relighting your pilot light.
- Moreover, if your pilot light keeps turning off, then limit exposure to the room where your boiler is installed and call a our heating engineers.
- Finally, if your pilot light is glowing yellow or orange, call one of our Gas Safe heating engineer - this may signal carbon monoxide leakage.
If it’s a matter of simply relighting the pilot light, it’ll be a quick job. However, if there are other issues, these need to be addressed immediately. We recommend having a regular boiler service, to ensure your boiler remains free from problems like this.