How To Relight Furnace Pilot Light?

The pilot light is responsible for igniting the fuel source in a furnace. If it’s not lit, the furnace cannot generate adequate warmth to a nearby space. So how can you relight a furnace pilot light if it goes out? We researched for you, and here’s what we found.

In many cases, relighting a furnace pilot light only requires a barbecue lighter or a similar flame-starting device. With that tool in hand, the steps for this task are:

1. Set the furnace's pilot light switch to the off position and let the appliance cool for about 5 minutes. 2. Make sure that the gas line isn’t in operation. 3. Set the control to the ‘Pilot Light’ position and press it. 4. Keep the button pressed as you ignite the pilot light. 5. Maintain pressure to the control for 30 seconds to keep the flame burning.

The pilot flame should remain burning after releasing the switch on the furnace. But certain instances occur when the light goes out frequently. Continue reading to know more about the reasons why pilot lights go out. We’ll also tackle the steps to relight pilot lights in greater detail.

A man adjusting the heat station's pipes, How To Relight Furnace Pilot Light?

How Do I Know If My Pilot Light Is Out?

You’ll know when the pilot light in your furnace is out if you notice certain indicators. Some of these signs are:

  • Heat loss: The temperature in the space dropped even though the furnace and its blower are still running.
  • The flame disappeared: A lit fire should be visible upon opening the furnace’s front cover panel.
  • Lack of hot water: The furnace might not supply hot or warm water if the pilot light is out.

Take note that you may need to crouch down to investigate if the pilot light in the furnace disappeared. If you’re unsure or not confident about checking the furnace, think about consulting the services of a specialized HVAC technician.

A man adjusting the pipe fixture of the central heating system

Also, read this post if you have trouble locating the furnace in your home: "Where Is The Furnace Located In My House?"

How To Relight Your Furnace Pilot Light?

Up close photo of a furnace light

Generally, homeowners only need a barbecue lighter to reignite their furnaces' pilot lights. Follow the steps below after acquiring that tool:

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Find the pilot light by following the gas line in your furnace. Take note that the switch for the pilot light may differ depending on the model. Consult your owner's manual or contact the manufacturer if you can't find this controller.
  2. Check the position of the gas control and switch it to the off position if it's not.
  3. Wait for about 5 minutes for the furnace to cool.
  4. If you still smell gas after turning off the furnace, close the gas line. Stop here and contact professionals immediately if the smell of gas permeates after closing the gas line, for it might be a sign of leakage.
  5. Once the gas smell is gone, set the furnace's switch to the 'Pilot Light' position and hold it down.
  6. While pressing the button, use a barbecue lighter to start a flame to the pilot light.
  7. Maintain pressure on the switch for 30 more seconds to help keep the flame burning.
  8. Set the gas valve to the on position and your home's thermostat to 'Heat.'

If you have an electric furnace, the ‘Pilot Light’ selection on the controller might not be present. If so, you might only need to press the switch for about 30 seconds for the pilot light to resume normal operation.

Additionally, you can also watch the video below to see a visual representation of the steps mentioned above:

Check out BIC lighters on Amazon.

Why Is My Pilot Light Going Out?

Pilot lights in furnaces can go out at some point or another. These events can happen because of reasons like:

  • Inefficient flame: A furnace's pilot flame should be burning bright blue. Yellow light can be an indication that something's amiss with the unit and needs inspection.
  • Faulty thermocouple: This part works by keeping the gas valve open. A malfunctioning thermocouple can extinguish the pilot light regularly.
  • Dirt buildup: If your furnace is dirty, particularly around the pilot light, the intake valve might not acquire sufficient oxygen to maintain a flame.

Frequent furnace maintenance can help prevent these issues. However, if regular care doesn't solve the problem, think about replacing some parts, particularly the thermocouple. You can also watch the video below to learn how to clean your furnace to prevent significant dirt buildup:

Check out this thermocouple on Amazon.

How To Troubleshoot A Furnace Pilot Light?

Identifying the source of the problem on why a furnace’s pilot light frequently dies is the first step to achieving optimal results. Take note that furnace pilot light problems usually stem from different areas, including:

  • Thermocouple: Dust can block this part’s ability to supply a sufficient amount of flame to the furnace. Clean it first and restore the furnace's operations to see if that solves the issue.
  • Pilot screw: A flickering or faint pilot light may only need adjustments with the connected screw. Adjust the pilot light’s screw to set the furnace at the right temperature. The flame should also turn from yellow to blue.
  • Gas pipes: Check the gas levels on your furnace. If it’s low, the appliance’s reservoir isn’t getting sufficient supply from the connected pipes.
  • Casing: Gaps or holes in the furnace’s exterior shell can bring unwanted drafts to the pilot flame, causing it to go out frequently. Sealing these openings should help restore efficient functionality to the heating system.

Additionally, a gas shortage might be occurring in your area. If so, consult your local gas provider to check if they’re running into some issues. Existing problems with the gas supply might not need you to do anything but wait for the company to solve the problem.

Also, if you have an electric furnace, this model may not have a pilot light. Instead, check the wiring inside and outside the system for any damages. Search for wire cuts or burn signs. Then, replace those faulty parts with new to restore the system’s heating capabilities.

Should The Pilot Light Always Be On In A Gas Furnace?

Pilot lights that continuously stay on in furnaces can be indications of malfunctions. The part at fault might be the flame sensor, especially if you own a gas furnace. However, if you possess an electric furnace, read this post: "Do Electric Furnaces Have Flame Sensors?"

You may only need to clean the flame sensor as dirt buildup can occur. However, you may need to replace this part if the flame doesn’t go out on its own after a few minutes, even after cleaning the sensor.

Check out this flame sensor on Amazon.

Moving forward, take note that furnaces often do a good job of maintaining their flames. The way these devices work is that the pilot flame will run for about 3 to 4 minutes. Then, the light will die for about a minute before the system turns reignites.

Is It Safe To Relight A Pilot Light?

It’s relatively safe to relight a pilot light, provided that users will follow safety protocols before going through with the task. For example, you should ensure that the gas valve is in the off position before using a lighter. Also, avoid attempting to light a fire in the area if you smell gas or hear gas leaking from the pipes.

How Much Does It Cost To Relight A Pilot Light?

If you already own a gas or barbecue lighter, relighting a pilot light shouldn’t cost any money. However, the calculations for the costs to maintain the pilot light can vary per household since homes usually have dissimilar heating requirements.

For example, let’s assume that a furnace provides comfortably warm temperatures throughout the year. If so, one of the factors that affect the fees will be the type of gas used. Using natural gas would yield about $219 per year in costs, whereas using liquid propane will result in approximately $657 in expenses per annum.

Final Words

Relighting a pilot light is a fairly straightforward procedure and should only take a few minutes of your time. Keep in mind that you should follow safety protocols while going through with this task, or serious incidents can happen.

Also, a furnace malfunction exists if the pilot light goes out frequently. The issue can come from different parts, such as the thermocouple or flame sensor. You can clean these components and check if that solves the problem. If not, you may need to consult an HVAC professional to provide a proper long-term solution.

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