My lady friend has been having trouble keeping the furnace pilot on. It is
not near an outside door where a gust of wind when the door is opened
could be the problem. This started happening after a indoor gas fireplace
was installed a few years ago. It seemed that whenever she would turn the
fireplace on high it would go off. But she stopped using the high setting,
and it still goes off. Trying to relight the pilot is a bigger problem,
because, I have to make 7 more
trys before it will stay on. That buttom that has to be held down for one
minute, is hard to do. Doing this part of lighting the pilot can be hard
on the thumb. When I let the red buttom up all the way the pilot light
gors out. Should I turn the knob to on before I let the red knob all the
Remember this is just a wild guess from miles away.
The gas fireplace installation may have disturbed
the gas piping so as to allow small particles to get
into the furnace pilot orifice, making the flame too small.
Repairing that may be outside your experience level (I don't know).
The other possibility is that the thermocouple
has gotten weak or is not placed in the optimum
location in the flame.
The thermocouple on the furnace may simply be bad. It's a piece that
sticks in the flame of the pilot to sense heat. If there isn't heat,
the gas valve will cut off the supply of gas to the pilot. That
mechanism is what you're overriding by pressing the red button during
Thermocouples go bad routinely, and do need to be replaced. The
issues starting with teh fireplace installation may have been
coincidental, or there could also be another problem there.
I was just talking with someone the other day who has a set of gas
logs in a fireplace that they can't seem to keep the pilot lit on them
despite several trips out there from the installer who's replaced the
entire gas valve, replaced thermo-somethings and I'm not sure what
Thermocouples can be purchased at nearly any hardware store. Measure
the lead length of the existing one and try to match it. If you have
any hesitation, get a furnace pro out there for an annual clean and
inspect -- the thermocouple replacement will add $15 at most to the
clean/inspect service charge in my experience.
There are several possible problems. Lets start with the most
It appears there is a safety issue. That fireplace and the furnace are
both trying to use the same air. One will win the other will loose. The
one that looses may put CO gas into the home. That is very bad.
I would not really feel good about this until a qualified professional
takes a look at it. The gas company may offer this service and maybe for
free. They like their customers to live long enough to pay their bills.
Besides dead people don't help business.
At the very least, stop using both at the same time. Makes sure the
furnace is off anytime the fireplace is in use. Also add makeup air anytime
the fireplace is in use. You can crack a window near it.
Don't get complacent and think that turning the fireplace on low is
safe. It is not.
If there is not a CO detector in the house, get one. It would make a
great after Christmas present, and it will let her know you care to keep her
around a little longer.
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