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Why Does the Pilot Light Keep Going Out?

The pilot light is notorious for being the most temperamental part of a gas-powered system. It is known for going off all the time for no apparent reason, prompting a relighting procedure either by yourself or your HVAC professional. There is a difference, however, between a pilot light that goes out frequently and one that simply won’t stay lit. If your pilot light doesn’t stay lit for any appreciable length of time, it is very likely that you have a bad thermocouple.

What is a Thermocouple?

A thermocouple is a long metal wire or rod made of two different metal conductors. One end of the thermocouple is installed right next to the pilot light, while the other is connected to the gas valve responsible for feeding the pilot light. When metal is subjected to uneven levels of heat, it generates an electric current. Thus, when the pilot light end of the thermocouple is exposed to the heat of the flame, it produces a current that runs down the wire to the other end, where it serves to keep the gas valve open. This ensures that, once lit, a pilot light will stay lit by consuming a constant flow of gas. Essentially, the thermocouple is a heat sensor designed to regulate the flow of gas to the pilot light.

Bad Thermocouple

When a thermocouple goes bad or is faulty, it loses its ability to generate a current when exposed to heat. This means that when you attempt to light the pilot light, the thermocouple will not be able to open the gas valve to keep the flame alive. When this happens, there isn’t really a way to repair it. Chances are you’ll have to replace the thermocouple. It is possible that part of the thermocouple could have simply been bent away from the flame, as sometimes happens during installation or poor maintenance. The best way to tell, however, is to have a professional look at it for you.

If your pilot light is not staying lit, call At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air. We conduct heating repairs throughout the entire Salt Lake City area.

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At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air provides excellent heating, air conditioning, plumbing, indoor air quality, water treatment and water heater services throughout the greater Salt Lake City, UT area, including the installation of new systems and components, and the replacement of the old, as well as ongoing repair and maintenance. Established in 1980, we have served the home comfort needs of our local community for over 30 years. Whether you need your stop and waste valve replaced or a new "green," energy–efficient HVAC system installed, we can make sure that the job is completed properly. Our HVAC contractors are NATE–certified and we employ Master and Journeyman plumbers. We are confident in our ability to satisfy any issue that may arise in your home, 24 hours a day. Give one of our friendly staff members a call today to learn more about what we can do for your home.

At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air offers quality heating, air conditioning and plumbing services throughout the Salt Lake City, UT area, including repair, installation and maintenance.

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