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Tool Talk Discussion Forum

Re: Furnace pilot light won't stay lit

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Stan in Oly, WA

03-11-2013 20:54:06

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Hi missouri massey man,

I went there this afternoon and confirmed that it was a standing pilot. The renter had used the correct procedure to try to relight the pilot (except that she used a match, and it turned out that it did have a striker type ignition button). I couldn't make it stay lit, either. I removed the thermocouple and cleaned it, and cleaned the pilot assembly with a soft toothbrush. N/G. I brought the thermocouple home with me, and I'll replace it tomorrow.

You mentioned that I'd need several wrenches and a long phillips. Is the long phillips to remove the whole pilot assembly, including the thermocouple? That assembly was mounted to a fixed tab with two phillips screws. I couldn't get enough purchase on any screwdriver to loosen the screws, but that was partly because I was handicapped by not being sure that that was what I wanted to do. If I know that I can safely remove the whole pilot assembly, I'll figure out some way to get the screws loose. But maybe there's no benefit? I should be able to replace the thermocouple just as it is---I took the existing one off and put it back on once already. I wouldn't take the pilot assembly off unless there was reason to believe that it was part of the problem. What do you recommend?


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missouri massey man

03-12-2013 18:44:10

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 Re: Furnace pilot light won't stay lit in reply to Stan in Oly, WA, 03-11-2013 20:54:06  
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Typically the thermocouple is held into the pilot assembly with either a plated or brass 7/16 ferrule type fitting. The other end screwed into the gas controller requires the 3/8" end wrench. Some cheaper units have nothing more than a retaining clip holding the thermocouple into the assembly. You should know by now what you needed to remove it, so you will need nothing more to re assemble it. However...while the pilot light WAS burning as you held down the knob (or valve handle) did you get to see just where it was burning on the old thermocouple and was is a good dual blue flame with no yellow/white ? If so you can just leave the pilot assembly in and just replace the thermocouple in the reverse fashion of how you removed it. If however, there was any yellow to the flame, there is going to be a tiny bit of debris in the pilot orifice and you will have to remove the assembly to clean it.
The pilot orifices on propane are tiny, natural gas pilot orifices are slightly larger. DO NOT ream out the orifices, you will create another problem... use compressed air if necessary. Chances are, you merely had a defective thermocouple. However, if there was a lazy yellow flame before cleaning the orifice AND it is still there after cleaning it, you more than likely have a gas pressure problem and without a picture of the controller I can't tell you how to adjust it on your own without specific tools probably not at your disposal.

I certainly hope this is not too confusing but I'm trying to be as specific as possible flying blind...Sorry for the late reply, I was out to dinner with the family.
Post back if it is Nat gas or Propane. I must have missed it in your earlier post, will go back and re read.

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