Boiler Pilot Light Won’t Ignite – Ask The Central Heating Specialists

The boiler pilot light WON’T IGNITE!! We’ll set the scene; It’s the middle of winter, the mercury has dropped lower than Barry Whites low C, and in the frosty air, your nostril hairs are forming icicles. 

Similar to a tv remote, or pedestrian crossing; no matter how many times you click, the clicker (button) and HOW much force you exert in trying – the damn thing remains lifeless. The pilot light has given up the ghost. 

A lack of heating and hot water, mid-winter (let’s face it, UK spring AND Autumn too!) isn’t ideal; however, for someone more vulnerable, the situation can become dangerous. 

But what will you do?! Boilers are SCARY!! What if you do it wrong and blow the whole kitchen into space?! What if you make a DIY error and gas the family?! NIGHTMARE.

However, fear not. Your trusty Lincolnshire central heating specialists are here to help. In this week’s blog, we’ll go through the reasons your boiler’s pilot light won’t come on, and how to safely troubleshoot and get your home warm and snuggly once more!

Relight My Fire!

Stuff Within The Realms Of Mortals – I.e, You

Boilers are complicated, and there are many reasons to avoid tinkering around inside such an intricate device. However, there are a few basic steps you can safely follow to troubleshoot and hopefully avoid calling out an engineer. 

1. The pilot light is deader than Patrick Swayze in Ghost? Has there been a power cut?

A power cut can reset the boiler’s timings; confusing for you, confusing for your boiler – especially if the power cut occurs in the middle of the night. In this case, dig out your boiler manual and follow the instructions on reprogramming the times of your heating.

2.  Boiler Pilot Light Won’t Ignite? Check your fuse box

The classic! And the first port of call for many household problems. If there’s been a switch tripped in your fuse box, it may affect your boiler. Have a quick look and determine that all the switches are in the right place to ensure this isn’t the root of the problem.

3. The pilot light has carked it? Check the gas.

It’s advisable to test another gas appliance to determine if you have a domestic gas supply problem or a boiler problem. Your hob is an excellent place to start. If your hob is dead, this shows the problem lies with your utility supplier, rather than your boiler. *If your gas supply is prepaid, make sure you have enough credit.

4. The pilot light has popped its clogs? Check if your boiler is on.

So, you’ve ransacked the house for the manual, you’re tearing out your hair trying to find the problem, and you discover the boiler wasn’t even switched on. Doh. If you’ve fallen victim to your own foolishness, laugh out loud; you’re not alone! Surprisingly, this happens a lot. 


  • Check the supply to your boiler and make sure the home’s electricity supply is connected.


  • Check the boiler display; there should be a light, symbol or message that indicates the boiler is on.


  • Flick your thermostat to higher than 21 degrees; increasing the heat should kick start your boiler. If nothing happens – it’s off!

Stuff For The Central Heating Experts

Boilers are complex animals, and there are many reasons to avoid poking around inside such an intricate device. If you’re in any doubt, always call an engineer; this is critical to your safety. If you’re on a boiler cover plan, your local specialist should be round withing 24 hours, and if you smell gas; call the Gas Emergency Services emergency line immediately on 0800 111 999.

1. Electrode & Ignition Lead Problems

If your boiler pilot light won’t ignite, and you hear clicking sounds, the electrode and ignition lead could be the problem.

This problem is a bit easier to discern; because, without a functioning ignition lead and electrode, the boiler won’t ignite at all. However, with a gas problem, you’ll get intermittent gas – so the pilot light might ignite, but then go out. 

Using a multimeter; a gas engineer will be able to test the electrode and ignition lead. They will then most likely replace them altogether.

2. The Fan Is Broken

Contrary to popular belief; the boiler’s fan isn’t designed to cool down the water, it creates a draught to deflect harmful gases from the boiler, and into the flue. 

These gases are then ejected out of your home – because if they were allowed to hang out inside – you’d all be dead. Bleugh!

So, If the PCB (the boiler’s circuit board) thinks the fan isn’t operational, it will lock out instead. 

If your boiler pilot light won’t ignite, and you can’t hear the fan whirring, this could be the problem. 

In this case, we advise reconditioning the fan – i.e., fitting a new motor – rather than replacing the whole unit; fans can be rather expensive. 

3. There’s A Gas Valve Fault

The gas valve works to control the flow of gas into your boiler. So, when added heat is required, the valve opens to release more fuel. Once the water reaches its designated temperature, it closes. 

However, just like any frequently used component, faults through wear and tear are inevitable. And, things like blockages, damaged wire connectors and seizures can cause serious problems.

The gas valve is also sensitive to incorrect adjustments. So, if too much gas is detected, it will lockout to prevent a fire. This mechanism has a knock-on effect in that now, too little gas is released; the result? Your pilot light won’t turn on! 

When in doubt, call your local engineer. 

4. You Have A Blocked Burner

Unfortunately, a blocked burner can be a real wallet burner of a problem! Just like a car engine, your boiler produces carbon when it burns gas. Occasionally this gas clogs up the burner, causing inconsistencies. 

Eventually, without a clean, the boiler won’t be able to fire up at all – resulting in a lack of hot water and heating.

The good news; if you catch this problem early, and there’s no permanent damage, cleaning out the carbon build-up will fix the problem. 

However, If the damage to the burner is too much, a replacement may be necessary; and this is where things could get pricey! 

If you’ve taken out boiler cover, or you’re still under warranty you can skip to the next point; you’ve nothing to fear! Total cover equals total peace of mind.

However, if you’re boiler is out of warranty – bang for buck – it may be worth replacing the entire thing rather than forking out for repair.

5. There’s Insufficient Gas Pressure

To determine if the problem lies with the gas supply; pressure testing is required. In this case, a qualified gas engineer knows the specific spots to examine. They will look at the points which access your gas meter, the point where it leaves the meter, and the point where gas enters into your boiler.

Any faults which cause discrepancies in gas release and your boiler will lockout as a safety precaution. 


In many ways, your boiler is like Fort Knox – it’s a secure fortress and for a good reason! So, with these myriad necessary safety devices, there comes a myriad reason why your boiler pilot light won’t ignite. 

Our advice is this; if the problem isn’t obvious, call a qualified heating engineer – because you’re dealing with a potentially dangerous gas appliance it is VITAL for you to act cautiously and with care. 

Any work carried out on the gas boiler itself MUST be performed by a Gas Safe registered engineer. This law exists to protect you from harm. 

Ready To Talk To The Central Heating Specialists?

To book in for a boiler service in Lincoln, call us on 01522 300744. At Glow, we specialise in central heating systems; for any problems or concerns, feel free to give us a call or contact us via email. With customer care at the heart of all that we do, we’re always happy to help.

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