Why Does My Furnace Pilot Light Go Out After Heating?

image of a heating system depicting a furnace pilot light that goes out after heating

Picture this – unlike the previous days, you wake up cold and shivering in your room. It’s not a good start to your day. You head over to the thermostat and then the furnace and see that the pilot light has gone out. The heating system won’t run unless the flame comes back, but your attempts to re-light aren’t working. It may come on but only for a while. This article will explain why the furnace pilot light goes out after heating and what you can do to solve it.

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Why Does My Furnace Pilot Light Go Out After Heating?

The pilot light is vital for ignition. If the flame keeps going out, then you may be in for many uncomfortable winter nights. Act fast to stop the ordeal. You’ll want to work with skilled and knowledgeable technicians on this complex matter. They can pinpoint the exact trigger from a long list of possible reasons, such as those mentioned below:

1. Furnace Thermocouple Malfunction

The thermocouple opens or closes the main fuel line to your heating system. This tiny electrical device senses whether the pilot light is lit or not and adjusts fuel access accordingly. It’s one of the safety features of your furnace. If it is bent, dirty, or broken, then it won’t be able to work properly. Thermocouple issues are common, so it’s usually the first stop in the troubleshooting process.

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2. Dirty Pilot Opening

Observe the pilot light. Is the flame stable or not? It should have a steady blue color and a conical shape. If you see an unstable flame that seems to wave around before going out, then you are probably dealing with a dirty pilot opening. Dust, dirt, and debris can build up in this region over time, interfering with the operation. Periodic HVAC maintenance can prevent this problem.

3. Poor Furnace Location & Airflow Issues

image of an old furnace depicting pilot light problems

Does the problem keep happening? If this is not the first time that the pilot light has gone out, then you may be dealing with an environmental issue such as poor airflow. Maybe the furnace is in a bad location, such as an enclosed area that limits air circulation. Oxygen is necessary for the flame to burn. Consult an HVAC contractor about repositioning and let them handle this major move.

4. Bad Furnace Gas Regulator

Do you have other gas-powered appliances in your home? Examples include gas stoves and dryers. Try to turn them on to see if they are working normally. If not, perhaps you are dealing with a bad regulator in your gas meter. You need to call the utility company and tell them to replace it.

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5. Fluctuating Natural Gas Availability

Indeed, you may want to ask your neighbors if they are experiencing the same situation or something similar. Maybe the gas grid in your area can’t handle peak demand with the available supply. Gas pressure can become erratic and affect the pilot light. This is out of your hands. Let the utility company handle the matter. Check if they have any related announcements.

6. Age & Condition of Heating System

natural gas furnace with rust

Pilot lights are common among older furnace models, but they are no longer found in modern designs that use electronic ignition. If your heating system has one, then it is probably more than 20 years old. In this case, several parts of the system are probably worn at this point. The collective inefficiency may be causing the flame to go out. Technicians can identify the problematic components for immediate replacement.

7. Cracked Heat Exchanger

The heat exchanger is responsible for heating the air. Inside are metal tubes that connect to the burner assembly. If this develops a crack, then it might not work properly. The widening gap will affect the air pressure and venting process within the combustion chamber, eventually putting out the pilot light.

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Dealing with a Furnace Pilot Light That Refuses to Stay On

As you can see, this symptom can have multiple causes. You need a systematic review of the factors influencing the pilot light’s behavior to come up with a precise diagnosis. Only then can you figure out an appropriate solution. It can be dangerous to tinker with a furnace, so make sure that you disconnect all electrical cables and shut off supply lines. Better yet, get the help of an HVAC contractor for a safer and faster resolution.

The Importance of Furnace Maintenance

1. Prevent Common Furnace Problems

image of a furnace technician repairing hvac system

Experts are intimately familiar with common furnace problems. They have seen these happen over and over across the years, so they know the possible causes and the suitable solutions for each. They also know how to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Ask an HVAC contractor to come for a maintenance visit at least once a year. They can perform thorough inspection and testing to ensure that everything is in order. They can also clean the system and do other maintenance tasks for smooth operations.

2. Sustain High Furnace Efficiency

Furnace efficiency tends to degrade over time. Years of operation will cause system clogs, faulty parts, and other issues that make it harder to produce heat. Unless you intervene, you will see a constant increase in fuel consumption, even if your usage patterns and thermostat settings remain the same. Don’t wait for something to break down completely before you call for HVAC technicians. Invite them regularly for maintenance work to sustain high system efficiency. It will keep your monthly bills low.

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3. Prolong Heating Equipment Lifespan

You can expect a furnace to serve your family for 10 to 15 years before needing a replacement. Since the cost of acquisition is quite high, you’ll want to push equipment lifespan as far as you can. Limit furnace use, enter mild settings, and conduct regular maintenance to keep the system going for 20 years or more.



No one wants to spend winter freezing inside their own homes. A furnace can provide warmth, but only if everything is working well. If the pilot light keeps going out, then go over the list of causes presented here to find the culprit. Seek professional assistance from a reputable HVAC contractor for repairs and maintenance.

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McAllister Energy offers high-quality HVAC services in Camden County, New Jersey. We hire only the best, professionally certified technicians who conduct superior heating and cooling services. Some of our HVAC services include HVAC maintenance, heating and cooling installations, repairs, ductless systems, energy audits, and much more. All our techs provide accurate HVAC services on time, every time.

Our company guarantees affordable heating and cooling service rates. Our maintenance services can increase your home’s comfort, energy efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. We can also provide you with a highly energy-efficient HVAC replacement system that fits your budget. Your satisfaction is important to us, so all our work comes with a guarantee. Book a service appointment with McAllister Energy today. We provide free, in-home estimates.

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