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How To Deal With An Irregular Furnace Pilot Light

Many older gas furnaces still utilize a furnace pilot light as their means of ignition.

While generally reliable, furnace pilot lights are liable to develop problems from to time.

One of the most common is an irregular furnace pilot light flame – that often causes the furnace to fail to light properly.

This article provides a useful troubleshooting guide for this common furnace maintenance problem.

The Problem

An irregular furnace pilot light can manifest in a number of ways.

The flame may be:

  • The flame appears excessively small
  • The wrong color – yellow rather than orange-blue
  • The flame seems to flicker and sputter in a strange manner

Almost all of these problems stem from a single cause:

  • Improper gas flow

More specifically, the problem is usually that an insufficient amount of gas is flowing through the pilot orifice.

This is generally caused by one of two things:

  • Poorly adjusted gas valve,
  • Foreign debris inside of the pilot tube

How to fix it

  • The appropriate fix for a clogged pilot tube is to turn off the gas and carefully remove any foreign matter or carbon deposits with a pipe cleaner or tool

This often requires that the pilot assembly be partially disassembled, so it is a job best left to a true heating professional.

A poorly adjusted gas valve also requires a technical knowledge not possessed by most homeowners.

Here the trick is to gradually increase the amount of gas being allowed into the furnace pilot light assembly until an appropriately sized – and appropriately behaving – flame results.


If you believe that your furnace pilot light, or another part of your furnace needs repairing, contact Minnesota’s HVAC professionals to get your heating working properly again.

We cover Blaine, Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Eagan, Edina, Hastings, Maplewood, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Roseville, North Saint Paul, Saint Paul, Saint Paul Park, South Saint Paul, Stillwater, West Lakeland, West Saint Paul, White Bear Lake, Woodbury, and many more locations.

Can’t find your town listed? Contact us at (651) 294-7798 to tell us where you live, so we can help you resolve your furnace pilot light problems.

Schedule a HVAC repair anywhere in the Minneapolis or St. Paul area today by calling (651) 294-7798 or by requesting an estimate online.


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1220 Cope Avenue East, Maplewood, MN 55109