Is the boiler pilot light out? Follow our instructions and further your understanding of pilot lights to ensure you don’t make any fatal mistakes!
Is the pilot light out on your boiler?
Owners of older boiler models may be familiar with pilot lights, but this doesn’t stop a number of issues arising which result in a boiler pilot going out.
When it comes to flames, gas boilers and how to ignite a pilot light, you can never be too cautious.
Follow our instructions below and further your understanding of pilot lights to ensure you don’t make any fatal mistakes.
What is a pilot light and how do they work?
When we refer to the pilot light, we are speaking about an integral element. This flame ignites the gas that is being provided to the boiler, which in turn produces the heat that we need to warm our homes, heat up our radiators and produce the warm water we wash with.
Got questions? First, have a read of our in-depth Q&A section to see if all of your queries and concerns are covered here.
What do you do if the pilot light goes out?
First things first, ensure you turn your gas control valve is turned to ‘off,’ not ‘on’ or ‘pilot’ this will prevent the gas building up and becoming dangerous if anything more serious is wrong.
Then you need to work out whether you need to relight the pilot light yourself or if you need a Gas Safe Engineer.
Read on to find out more.
Is it dangerous if the pilot light goes out?
The way these older gas boilers work means a slow and steady stream of gas is always being fed from the gas pipe.
The pilot light will ensure that the gas is constantly being burnt and producing the heat we desire.
However, if the pilot light is not working then the same amount of gas will still be fed through the pipe and will continue to accumulate – which of course is dangerous.
To prevent any gas explosions happening in our homes, valves are fitted which should sense if the flame is lit or not. When this valve senses no flame the gas will be cut off and any build-up of dangerous gases will be prevented.
Regardless of this fact, it is not recommended you leave a pilot light out for any prolonged period of time.
How do you relight the pilot light on a boiler?
If your boiler hasn’t got any clear instructions in the manual or on the appliance itself, try the following steps:
- Turn off the appliance and the gas control valve on your boiler (and any other appliances with pilot lights out if this affects multiple appliances). Don’t turn the gas to ‘pilot’ yet.
- Wait roughly 10 minutes before you do any of the next steps: this ensures any gas that has built up can disperse.
- With all the gas safely dissipated, remove your appliance’s cover or door.
- Turn the gas to ‘pilot.’
- Press and hold the reset switch for one minute and hold a flame to the pilot light at the same time. Ensure you only hold the switch down once the pilot light has ignited, to reduce the chances of any gas accumulating again. When you release the button, the flame should stay. If it goes out again, the re-ignition has not worked.
- If all is working as expected, return any casing/doors and turn the gas from ‘pilot’ to ‘on.’
How can you tell if your pilot light is out?
On most modern models, the ignition is electric, so you may not have a pilot light at all!
On older models, there is a chance you will have a more manual ignition process. It should be fairly apparent when you open the door/take off the casing of your appliance, by the presence of a small blue flame.
If you cannot see the blue flame your pilot light is out.
Why does my pilot light keep going out?
If you find yourself regularly relighting the pilot light on your gas boiler, you may need to look into other causes.
We recommend calling an engineer if you find yourself relighting your pilot more frequently than once a quarter.
If you can see your pilot light is being repeatedly blown out, which could be due to a dirty pilot tube.
Small, tough objects like a drinking straw could work with cleaning out any debris from the tube.
Alternatively, a draft could be causing the light to go out. If you think a draft is causing the issue you will need a Gas Safe Engineer to check how your boiler has been installed as they should not be exposed to drafts.
What causes a pilot light to go out?
There are so many reasons why a boiler pilot light can go out, which is why once electrical ignition was developed, most models moved over to this new technology.
It could be down to something as simple as the need to refill the gas/propane tank. However, the nature of these appliances means there are some more dangerous issues with your boiler.
For example, pilot lights could go out if there are high winds/drafts and low gas pressures but it could also be faulty, loose or broken vents, valves, thermocouples or heat exchangers.
That’s why you should never take a pilot flame outage lightly.
Boiler pilot light: dos & don’ts
Do always read/consult the manufacturer’s guidelines first.
Do not apply brute force or oil to the appliance even if you find the controls sticky or difficult. If you damage the appliance it could lead to a gas leak and be more dangerous than ever.
Do not light your pilot light if you are in doubt that there could be a more complex issue with your boiler. The danger and risks can be incredibly high when it comes to the ignition of gas and could result in death.
Do make sure you remove others from the area before attempting to relight your pilot light to ensure maximum safety to those around you.
Do keep the room you’re in well ventilated to ensure the gas is dissipating safely.
Do not ignore any gas odours (recommended reading: Gas Leak Symptoms).
Do evacuate everyone as quickly as possible if you smell gas. Turn off the gas supply valve as quickly as possible and report a gas leak. Do not return to your building if you believe there has been a gas leak.
Do not try to relight the flame if there is a strong odour that could cover any gas and prevent you from detecting a gas leak.
Do not attempt to relight a pilot light if there are devices that could cause sparks such as mobile phones or other electrics.
Boiler pilot light out – final thoughts
If you still have questions regarding pilot lights, or you have tried our troubleshooting tips to reignite the pilot light and it still isn’t working after a few attempts, give us a call so we can send a Gas Safe Engineer to give your boiler the once over and hopefully get everything running again without a hitch.