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Question DetailsAsked on 10/22/2016

Can't get the pilot lit and it has a new thermocouple

I put in a new thermocouple as the pilot won't light. But I get nothing when I push the reset button on the control valve. Yes the main gas valve is turned on, and so is the electric power. Plenty of LP gas in the storage tank (500 gal type). This last spring when the pilot went out (as it did several times last winter do to wind) there was the smell of gas so I shut off the gas to the furnace. Now I have nothing.

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2 Answers


Lots of possibilities - bad thermocouple connection, unit actually takes a thermopile rather than thermocouple so you have the wrong unit in there, tip not in the flame right so not heating up the thermocouple enough to keep the pilot burning when you release the button, you did not hold down the pilot button long enough for air to clear out of the line and gas to get to the pilot (you should be able to see that when the gas gets there and the pilot ignites), did not hold down pilot button long enough for the thermocouple/thermopile to heat up enough to keep the pilot lit (assuming it was lit at all).

Find your owners manual or download from manufacturer's website to be sure you are using the correct lighting instructions.

If you had gas smell, more than just a short snort (like you commonly smell if you are standing next to a furnace or water heater when it first lights the burner and a short puff of exhaust comes out of the draft hood [on gravity flue units only] from a second or two of unburned gas after the pilot went out), could be you have a bad gas control valve.

You say the main gas valve is on - is the appliance gas valve at the water heater or furnace on too ?

Sounds (now I see it is a furnace) that it sounds like you shut the furnace off in the spring and it has been off till now - in which case the gas line from the valve you shut off to the appliance will likely be full of air, not gas. If you shut off the valve at the appliance a few seconds to 10 seconds of pilot flow should bring gas to the pilot - but if you turned off the main valve at the tank or where the line enters the house, you could have 10-20 or more feet of up to 1 inch line full of air - so you might have to hold the pilot button down (in the "light pilot" posiition, whatever it is called for your unit) for a minute or two or even more. On my heater, with about 20 feet of piping run from the outside valve, takes almost 2 minutes to fill the 3/4" line with gas and get it to the appliance after the line has filled with air.

I use a small propane or butane torch (or you could use long fireplace match) to light pilots like this rather than a piezoelectric lighter, so there is a flame to see while you are trying to light it - if the flame moves and flickers when you are moving it around at the pilot location (at the draft deflector) and push the pilot button down, then air is coming out of the pilot gas tube, being pushed by the LP gas - hold the starter flame there until the pilot flares up and lights once LP gas rather than air is coming out.

[Same situation if a gas pipe or gas tubing is replaced or the gas (natural gas or LPG) is turned off at the source for extended period of time for a repair - you have to displace the air that diffused into the line before you get gas coming out].

Also - you said the pilot blew out a couple of times last spring - that indicates either the thermocouple is not properly in the pilot flame, the pilot flame diverter/draft protector is angled wrong, the pilot flame is too small (not getting enough pressure so not engulfing the tip in enough hot flame) or you need a better draft hood on top of the flue stack to minimize drafting at the appliance. Or the cover on the appliance firebox (if it has one) is ajar so you are getting drafting you should not be.

If checking that you are getting flow out of the pilot gas tube does not lead to solution of your problem, then you need a Heating and A/C technician - could be you have an electrical issue in the control box/board or the gas control valve (check the lead wires are securely connected), or possibly (with some models) a failed safety snesor like a flame rollout sensor, firebox overtemp sensor, direct vent exhaust pressure or airflow sensor, etc which is preventing the gas control valve from operating - though usually that would not affect lighting the pilot - usually just prevents gas from flowing to the main burner.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD



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Answered 3 years ago by Member Services

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