Relighting a Pilot Light on Your Furnace, Step-by-Step
For some homeowners, the prospect of relighting a pilot light on their older-model gas, propane, or heating oil furnace is scary. We understand: flame and fuel are often a bad mix.
But don’t worry. You can safely relight a furnace pilot by yourself. However, if you don't feel comfortable, it's okay; contact your local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning technician for professional help.
How to Relight a Pilot Light in 5 Simple Steps
If you've noticed the pilot light out on your furnace, you can safely get it fired back up in just a few minutes.
Before you get started, make sure you have a long lighter, like a fireplace match. This will keep your hand away from the ignition chamber and reduce the risk of burns.
Locate the pilot light on your furnace
The pilot light on most fuel-burning furnaces is near the unit's bottom. You'll find a knob or dial labeled with the following settings:
- Pilot, sometimes labeled as “On”
- Reset, sometimes labeled as “Light”
If you can't find the pilot light assembly or knob, consult your owner's manual or contact the manufacturer.
Turn the knob to: “Off”
Turning the knob to "Off" will stop the gas flow from the gas line to the light. Be sure to wait 2-3 minutes to let gas vapors dissipate from the ignition chamber. If the knob is already in the “Off” position, this is likely the reason the light is out. Continue with the rest of the steps to get it lit!
Preparing to Relight the Pilot
Turn the knob to "Pilot." This will restart the flow of gas to the pilot. Light your fireplace match outside the ignition chamber and away from the pilot to reduce the risk of combustion.
Turn the knob to: "Reset" and Light the Pilot
Depending on your furnace, the reset setting may have a spring that automatically sets the unit to “Pilot” once released. On these models, you may need to hold the knob there with one hand. With your other hand, place your burning match near the pilot light. Once the pilot light is lit, extinguish your match and set the control knob back to "Pilot."
Observe the pilot light
Please take a few minutes to watch the light to see if it stays on. This is an excellent way to identify potential drafts that may have caused the pilot light to go out. If you notice the flame flickering or going out, contact an HVAC professional to seal the chamber or make other repairs as necessary.
It's that easy!
Related: Is Your Furnace Short-Cycling?
My Pilot Light Furnace Won't Light … Now What?
If your pilot light won't light—or it keeps going out, there are a few possible issues:
Bad thermocouple – A thermocouple is a small copper tube that detects whether there's an active flame on the pilot light. This "flame sensor" is responsible for cutting off the gas flow if the pilot light goes out. A trained technician can replace a faulty thermocouple.
Broken gas valve – Cracked or misaligned gas valves can reduce the amount of gas reaching the pilot light. If your pilot light won't light, or flickers out frequently, a broken gas valve is a likely culprit. Contact a professional to inspect and replace the valve.
Faulty gas regulator – The gas regulator reduces the pressure in the natural gas line to distribute fuel evenly to appliances. It’s near your gas intake and can negatively impact all gas-powered appliances, including your stove or water heater. This device requires professional replacement.
Stay Cozy and Safe All Winter Long
From tricky pilot lights to keeping your heating bill in check, One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning is your professional, friendly local HVAC service provider. Count on us for fast HVAC repairs 24/7 or to help you choose the right upgrades.
And remember, if you want to upgrade to a newer-model furnace, an electric furnace, or a heat pump, you’ll never have to worry about dealing with a pilot light again. For service or a new heater installation, request an appointment online or call (800) 893-3523 today.