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Learn How to Light a Furnace Pilot Light When Needed

by Stewart Unsdorfer

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With some furnace systems, even the slightest breeze can cause the pilot light to go out, leaving a homeowner with no heat when the thermostat is turned up. Luckily, learning how to light a furnace pilot light is a simple matter

Furnaces have a tendency of not cooperating when you need them most. Of course, if you think about it, this makes sense because winter is the time when furnaces are working the hardest and can show their age, and their wear and tear.

How to Light a Furnace Pilot Light 

Here, we'll explain the basic steps for re-lighting the pilot light of a gas furnace.

#1: Locate the Instructions Label on Your Furnace

Every furnace should have a label on it that tells you how to light a furnace. Sometimes, however, the printing may be small or the furnace area may be dark. In these cases, the label may be difficult to read. Keeping the following instructions near your furnace or in another safe spot where they can be located easily will make the task much easier.

#2: Find Pilot Light and Components 

Near the bottom of your furnace is a switch that normally says "Pilot," "On" and "Off." Find this switch and turn it to the "Off" position. Wait at least five minutes. This is important because it gives the gas time to dissipate, which is necessary to avoid possibly starting a fire. While you are waiting, take note of the location of the reset button, which should be near the dial you just turned to "Off."

#3: Re-Light the Pilot Light

Once the gas has had time to dissipate, turn the knob to "Pilot." Then, hold down the "Reset" button and bring the flame of a long lighter close to the pilot light opening. This should light the furnace pilot light. Once you are sure the pilot light is on, release your pressure on the reset button.

Sometimes, seeing a job being done can help if you're doing it for the first time.The video below shows you the step-by-step process for re-lighting a pilot light to help you get started.

 

Important Notes

Here are some important things to remember about re-lighting your furnace pilot light.

  • If you have followed the above steps on how to light a furnace more than twice and the pilot light won't light or won't stay lit when you release the "Reset" button, something is wrong with the furnace and you need to contact a furnace professional.
  • Don't try to light a furnace without first turning it off. Excess gas can cause serious damage in the home and can also lead to injury. 
  • Other than the pilot light, do not attempt to fix your furnace yourself unless you are knowledgeable in furnace repair. While the furnace itself may be safe, gas can be dangerous.
  • If you do not have a long match or long lighter, using a tightly rolled piece of paper to put distance between you and the igniting pilot light will work.

Final Thoughts

Lighting the furnace pilot light is something that isn't necessary often, but is a skill you want to have in case it is necessary. As long as you follow the steps on how to light a furnace, you should have no problem, and your home will be warm and cozy in no time.

Some furnace problems are not as simple as a DIY fix. If it's time to replace your home heating system, our guide, "A Homeowner's Furnace Replacement Guide," below can help you compare furnace features and learn about heating enhancements or feel free to contact a HVAC professional.

Image credit: pilot light

A Homeowner's Furnace Replacement Guide

Topics: Furnaces, Heating Tips

blog author

Stewart Unsdorfer

Stewart has been in the HVAC business for more than 25 years. He is a state licensed heating and A/C contractor, as well as being certified in design, fabrication, layout and installation of forced air heating / cooling systems.

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