How to light a furnace pilot light?

If you are having furnace pilot light, then there are many chances that in future you need to know how to light a furnace pilot light or re-light pilot light of furnace. In the article, we discussed in detail that why it happens and good or bad furnace ignitor, safety and system maintenance tips.

light a furnace pilot light

We only think when pilot lights become a problem for you. The Web is full with how to light a furnace pilot light? And why does my pilot light go out?

What is furnace pilot light?

Basically, pilot light is like an ignitor which is present in the older furnaces. Few such furnaces are more than 30 years old. It’s a simply a burning gas flame which is only present in the gas HVAC systems. If house whole house is run by the power of electricity than you don’t have a pilot light.

This flame lights are a major source for the burners of gas which is present in the furnace. When your furnace thermostat sends signals to the furnace then these burners will light up and starts providing heat to house.

But the burners won’t work properly until that your initial source of flame, that pilot light is not working properly.

When you notice that the air which is coming from your vents is not hot and it’s more like the air of room temperature than it means your pilot light is not working fine or its out.

Well, you know that pilot light is like a dying breed in the installation of HVAC systems. Every year, I see the HVAC system in which pilot lights are not present. Pilot light will be costly in future because it consumes natural gas more and more which increases your utility bills. But now, electric pilot lights are used in modern HVAC systems even in the furnace which utilizes natural gas.

How to light a furnace pilot light?

Various types of HVAC Systems are just used for the heating purpose. There are many varieties in gas furnaces present in market. According to US Energy Information Administration’s says that, 50% of US homes consumes natural gas furnace for the purpose of heating. If your system suddenly stops providing heat, then it means that your furnace pilot light gone out.

Now, one question arises here is that how to light a furnace pilot light? Don’t worry tempindoors tell you everything and how you easily light up your furnace pilot light. We tell you’re in such a way that even untrained person is also able to light up the pilot light. But I would recommend that if you feel uncomfortable in performing such task then you have to hire a professional for this task. also if want to hire a professional for furnace installation, first thing is you have to know everything which increase the overall furnace cost.

Also Read: How much does a new furnace replacement cost in 2023

Gathered all tools and read all the details which is mentioned on manufactures instruction:

Well, you need to collect such tools like Flash light and a screwdriver and many other tools for removing the access panel of furnace. How to light a furnace pilot light, to understand properly that how to light pilot light such things you need to light up the furnace pilot light if your furnace is not having automatic ignition. I would recommend you to use a long lighter or a match of fireplace or a rolled piece of paper will work in a pinch.

pilot light of furnace

Read all the lighting instructions of furnace. Furnaces also have lighting instructions which are pasted with the labels. There’s also instructions are present on owner’s manual as well.

Turn off your furnace and valve of main line gas supply:

Turn off your furnace with the help of switch (switch is similar like a normal switch). Remove access panel of furnace. Follow your main gas supply line and locate the valve of gas which is box shaped like. Turn off the valve of gas to its off position. Then wait for 5 minutes until the gas dissipate and furnace cools down before lighting up the pilot light. Gas build-up is very dangerous and risk of explosion.

Find the pilot tubing:

Well, pilot light is smaller instead of gas line which normally runs from valve of gas to the furnace burners. Find nozzle which is present at the end of the pilot, you can find it with the help of flash light. If furnace is not having automatic pilot, then use lighter or match to light up the pilot light.

light a furnace pilot light:

Turn on the valve of gas. If there’s an automatic pilot, then press and also hold reset button whose color is red. If your furnace pilot does not light, then check your furnace model. If your furnace is not having automatic pilot, then ignite manually with lighter or a match and again hold such reset button or depress your valve knob.

While pushing this button, take the lighter or a match nearer to the end of nozzle of the pilot. Continue pressing such reset button at least for 30 seconds after lighting up the pilot lights just to maintain the flow of gas and also ensure that thermocouple heat up at enough level just to open the main valve of gas.

Turn the gas on and replace access panel and again turn the furnace on:

When a furnace pilot light stays lit then smoothly release reset red button and turn the valve of gas knob on. Replace access panel of furnace and again turn the switch of furnace on.

If necessary then, increase the temperature in thermostat settings just to get your furnace kicking on. You have to know that burners of the furnace should ignite. But if the burners do not ignite then, it means that thermocouple of furnace not heated up at enough level. Repeat the whole procedure and wait for 30 to 45 seconds after lighting up the pilot light.

How to light a pilot in water heaters?

Basically, gas water heaters burn with the natural gas in order to provide heat to the water which is present in the tank. If you are facing issue like cold water is coming out from the tap of hot water, then it means that the pilot light of your water heaters gone out. There are five easy way or I say steps to light a furnace pilot light/water heater pilot light.

water heater pilot light

Gathered all tools and read all the details which is is mentioned on manufactures instruction:

Well, you need a flash light a fireplace match or a lighter especially if the pilot light is ignited manually. Use a rolled paper or something to light up the pilot light in a pinch. Also, you need a screwdriver to remove access panel of water heaters.

Find the instruction of water heaters. With instructions labels are also pasted on the exterior side of tank or in the inner side of access panel. There’s also instructions are present on owner’s manual as well.

Find the light of pilot light:

In modern and advance water heaters there’s a window through which you can easily see the pilot light but it’s also possible that pilot light is hidden behind the small access panel of water heater which is near to the bottom of tank. Few access panels might be snap off and few small screw hold others. You just have to remove such panel, and find the blue small flame.

If there’s no flame, then it means that your pilot light is out. Find nozzle of the pilot with the help of flash light. You will find it at silver tube end which is extending from control valve.

Turn the gas regulator off:

The knob of gas regulator is located on the top of small metal box and it is labeled with on and off and with pilot. Turn the knob valves to its off position. Then wait 5 minutes until all the gas dissipate and then light up your pilot light. Because buildup of gas is very dangerous and there is a risk of explosion.

Reduce temperature:

Well, temperature control and the valves of gas regulator are located in the metal box. Turn the knob of temperature to its lowest settings. “Pilot” is the max lowest setting in few valves of temperature control.

Light up the pilot light:

Turn the knob of gas regulator to pilot. If there’s any switch which is labeled with “ignite” or with “pilot ignition” are present near the knob. Then press this button and ignite the pilot light. If any switch is not present, there or all control fails then use match or lighter to light up the pilot light by pressing the regulator knob. Continue pressing the regulator knob at least for 1 minutes just to ensure that thermocouple heat up at certain level and the lit stays.

Turn the gas on and restore temperature and replace access panel:

Turn the knob of gas regulator to on position. Now, turn the knob of temperature control according to your desired temperature settings. But I would recommend you that never set it more than 120 degrees of Fahrenheit. Fix the access panel with the help of screws and fix it back into his place.

How to light a pilot light of gas fireplace?

Gas fireplace basically provide a good ambiance and warmth atmosphere without any problem which commonly comes with the burning of woods. Various gas fireplaces maintain a standard pilot light just to ignite the fires rapidly.

fireplace pilot light

Remove glass and turn the supply valve of gas on:

First remove the glass from fireplace in order to prevent the accumulation of gas. The valve of gas supply in a red or in blue color which is located behind the decorative cover which is near to the base of fireplace or in simple words I say its located behind fireplace. Open the valve of gas. Some fireplaces are having opened secondary valves. Such valves are located on the walls or near to the fireplaces on floor which is operated by the specific key.

Find the knob of control gas and ignition button and assembly pilot:

The black and green knob of control gas is labeled with on and off, pilot. Ignition button is in red or in black and the pilot assembly is present in the fireplace normally in the center of bottom, it might be present behind and below logs. Push this ignition button many time to ensure that it is sparking in the assembly pilot. Through this spark light up the pilot light in next step.

Light up the pilot light:

Press the knob of gas control and turn towards the pilot. By pressing the knob, press the ignition button repeatedly until your furnace pilots light ignites. Continue pressing the knob at least for 30 seconds and allow the thermocouple to become warm at certain level. If it fails, then try again and wait for 5 minutes.

Turn the gas on and Replace glass and cover:

Turn the knob of gas control on. Replace such decorative glass and cover.

How furnace pilots are protected?

Any system which is having pilot lights also comes with at least one safety device. Such device detects the flame and if there’s anything wrong then this device immediately shut the gas of OFF.

Here the major fear is that if a furnace pilot light is not lit and still your furnace trying to provide heat to your house. Then, there’s a chance that there could be a leak of gas inside the residence. So, that’s why it’s important to deal with the faulty furnace pilot light.

Reasons Why your furnace pilot lights keep going out.

There is various reason by which Furnace pilot lights goes out. Some common problems are clogged pilot orifices and thermocouples issues, poor location of appliances.

Also Read: Definitive List of Home Heating Myths

 Reasons of pilot light go out


Basically, thermocouple act as a safety device which turn off the supply of gas immediately when your furnace pilot light goes out just to avoid leakage of gas. If there’s any thermocouple issue, then it causes your furnace pilot go out again and again.

Thermocouple are dirty:

The major issue in the list of how to light a furnace pilot light is that your furnace thermocouple is coated with the dirt or with carbon deposits through which it is unable to sense the flame of pilot light in result unable to shut the gas off. So, the solution is that you have to clean the thermocouple and it might be possible that it starts working accurately again. How to light a furnace pilot light again? So, first you have to clean it.

Now, here is one question many people ask that how to clean the thermocouple? Don’t worry, we are here Tempindoors provide you complete and accurate information. So, I will tell you what you have to do at first. Firstly, shut off your furnace and then leave the furnace until it cools down. Then, smoothly rub the tip of thermocouple with the help of brush or mildly-abrasive material like a sandpapers.

Bent thermocouple:

It’s also an important reason which is added in the list of how to light a furnace pilot light. In this case, it is possible that bent thermocouple in furnace is in the wrong position and that’s why its unable to detect the pilot flame. To solve this issue, you must make adjustments in order to make it right. For re-adjustment, first shut off your furnace and wait until it cools down. After that bent the furnace thermocouple to its right position where thermocouple detect your furnace pilot light.

Broken Thermocouple:

After all the things means cleaning and the adjustment of thermocouple, if pilot light still lights up for longer time then it means your thermocouple is broken. So, contact a professional HVAC expert to detect the problems completely and if necessary then replace furnace thermocouple.

Clogged pilot orifice:

The flame of pilot is not becoming hot at enough level for thermocouple just to open the valve of gas. if orifice is blocked with grime. Basically, if you see a yellow or flickering pilots flame then it indicates the clogged or dirty orifice. Normally, flames of pilot must be blue and steady or conical.

So, the solution is clean the orifice might be helpful. For cleaning purpose, first turn off your furnace and leave it until its cool down and then take some thin object like a needle and clean all the blockages from the opening of pilots.

Bad or poor location:

If your location is not good, then you will face this issues like how to light a furnace pilot light again and again. Because flame require some amount of oxygen and if your furnace is placed in the small area and there’s no way for the fresh air to come in.

At that time, you will face this issue. There is also a risk of carbon monoxide in small congested area. But it doesn’t mean that you have to place your furnace in large open place because if you do this then, the pilot flame blown out again and again through the strong winds.

Tips that how to light a furnace pilot light:

  • First of all, locate the pilot light of your gas appliances. You can easily find it only when the pilot light is lit.
  • If there’s any gas leakage, then call your HVAC professional immediately or a gas company and turn off the valve of main gas line.  Smell of natural gas is like rotten eggs.
  • Always, turn off your main gas supply and before lighting your furnace pilot light allow the gas to dissipate.
  • To understand how to light a furnace pilot light. Light a pilot light with the help of long lighter or a match stick in order to save your hand from ignition source. With match stick use it with a rolled paper or match stick with pliers is enough to light up the pilot light.
  • It might take several steps in lighting a pilot light.
  • Contact with the professional if the pilot light won’t stay after three to four attempts.
  • Contact with professional and don’t fix your damaged gas appliances by yourself.


Many gas furnaces and water heater or fireplaces having a pilot light in order to provide heat. In simple words, pilot light burns continuously but If your furnace or water heater or fireplaces pilot light don’t stay lit then there might be problems like thermocouple and clogged orifices issues or lack of oxygen and a strong draft. Pilot light sometimes consume fuel when it’s not in frequently use.

You have to read all the instructions on the manual carefully and perform all the task when light a furnace pilot light. Because gas is very dangerous and there’s a huge risk of explosion. So if you are not able to perform all the tasks or you face gas leakage by yourself then hire a professional in order to solve all these problems.

If you want more information about HVAC Systems then, here are some articles mentioned through which you can easily get all the information related to your HVAC SYSTEMS. If you like this article, feel free to give your feedback and stay with us for new articles. HAVE A GREAT DAY!

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