• Have to keep relighting pilot


    My furnace shut off last night. The pilot went out, and I thought it was maybe because it was so windy. When relighting the pilot, it stays lit. When turning the furnace on, the burner ignites and the flames are coming out of the vents in the burner cover and upward. The furnace shuts down and extinguishes the pilot. What could be the problem? We tried relighting it three different times with the same results each time.

    Nancy, Middletown, NY

    The wind would have been my first guess as well. It sounds like there could be two things going on. Perhaps the thermocouple is weak. This electronic device is designed to sense when it’s safe to keep open the main gas valve on the pilot light assembly. The thermocouple will shut off the gas valve to the burners if it does not sense enough heat from the pilot flame. Another possibility is a dirty pilot orifice. When the pilot orifice carbons up (or gets dirty), it is designed to go out when the main burner lights. These are serious issues. The furnace is probably turning off because the safety limits are tripping for some reason. The flame should not blow out around the furnace. It would be best to have the entire system checked, including the heat exchanger. You may want to consider installing a new, more energy efficient furnace which does not have a standing pilot to worry about. I suggest you call a professional HVAC contractor to check your heating system, as well as to give you ideas about the best new heating equipment for your home.