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by Rifat A. in Blog 6 comments

No matter which type of burners you have, knowing how to light the pilot of the furnace is a must. As a small breeze can turn off the pilot light of the furnace, if you don’t know how to light the pilot, you’ll be freezing in the winter.

In this article, I’ll talk about how to light a pilot of the furnace and the reasons behind the furnace pilot go out.

Gas Furnace Pilot Ignitor
Gas Furnace Pilot Ignitor

4 Reasons behind Trouble Lighting Furnace Pilot

Generally, most of the newer furnaces have an electric ignition method. On the other hand old furnace have a standing pilot flame. In these old gas furnace systems, the flame light is a small ignition and situated under the gas furnace.

1. Age of the Heating System Hinders “Turn On” Pilot Light Furnace

If your furnace is more than 15 years old, there is a high chance that your heating unit has a standing pilot flame. Again, when you have an older heating unit, parts of your burner may be in bad condition. Besides, if you haven’t cleaned your furnace for a long time, furnace parts like a pilot valve, knob, the gas valve will be clogged. As a result, your furnace pilot light will go out frequently.

2. Cracked Heat Exchanger of the Heating Unit

This type of problem is usually seen in older burners and this may lead to frequent pilot light go out. When burners have a crack in the heat exchanger, they’ll put a negative impact on the air pressure and ventilation in the gas burner. Eventually, this will put a negative effect on the flame as well. That’s why as soon as you find out that your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger, call your near HVAC professional and fix it quickly.

3. Malfunction in the Gas Valve

If you want your pilot valve to stay lit all the time, you’ll have to input a good source of gas. But when your gas burner has a malfunctioning gas valve, it won’t be possible and as a result, your furnace pilot light won’t light. Again, if the supply of your gas gets low, you can have a furnace pilot light problem. That’s why it’s necessary to make sure that your gas supply is functioning properly.

Call your near heat pump professional and take their service to find out the exact problem in your heating unit.

4. Problem in the Thermocouple

The thermocouple is an important device and plays an important role in lighting furnace pilot light. It is generally situated near the bottom of the flame of the burner and when the thermocouple is lit, the pilot light gives instructions to the thermocouple to keep the gas line on. But when you have a dirty thermocouple, the thermocouple won’t be able to receive instructions properly and as a result, the pilot light won’t turn on. That’s why it’s important to keep the thermocouple clean.

If you’re not comfortable in cleaning your thermocouple, call your nearby HVAC professional and take their service.


See the summary in this infographic – 4 Reasons behind Trouble Lighting Furnace Pilot [Infographic]


4 Reasons behind Trouble Lighting Furnace Pilot
4 Reasons behind Trouble Lighting Furnace Pilot


Is It Possible to Lighting Furnace Pilot Light at Home By Myself?

Many home-owners don’t know whether it’s safe to turn on the pilot light by themselves or not. If you’re an expert in dealing with furnaces, you should only then try to turn on the pilot light of the heating system. Otherwise, you should never try lighting the pilot. Again, while lighting the pilot lights, you’ll have to make sure that you follow all the instructions and steps properly. However, if you’re not an expert or don’t know how to use a pilot light, call your near HVAC professional.


How to Turn On Pilot Light Furnace: Step by Step Guidelines

Follow these steps to turn on the pilot light.

Step 1 – Find the Help or Owner’s Manual

At first, you’ll have to find the help manual on the furnace. The printing of the help manual may be in small size or dark. If this is the scenario, it may become hard for you to read the manual.

Keep the manual near to you so that you can easily relight light a pilot.

Step 2 – Find the Pilot

After finding the manual, it’s time to locate the pilot switch. You’ll find the pilot light on and turn off the switch on your system. After locating the pilot light, it’s time to turn on the switch. After turning on the pilot lights, wait for at least five minutes or long.

When you wait for this long, gas in the heat system will dissipate and there will be no fire hazard.

Step 3 – Find the Reset Button

Now, look for the reset button on the system. You’ll find the reset button on the furnace and usually, this button is located near the pilot light.

Step 4 – Turn on Pilot Light Furnace

After locating the reset button, it’s time to turn the knob of the furnace to pilot. After that, press the reset button for a while and use a long lighter flame near the opening of the pilot light. When you realize that you relight the pilot light, release the button.

Furnace Pilot Ignitor
Furnace Pilot Ignitor

Pro Tip on How to Restart a Furnace Pilot Light

Tip 1: Use HVAC Help If the Pilot Light Don’t Get Lit

After following all the steps, if you are still not able to light a pilot, you should call your nearby HVAC professional.

Try to turn the gas of the burner on at least twice and wait for a few minutes. If the flame doesn’t ignite, there is a high chance that you have a problem with your gas valve to the pilot or knob. In this case, take HVAC service from your nearby HVAC professionals.

Tip 2: Use a Tightly Rolled Paper to Lighting Pilot light on Furnace

If you don’t have a long match or lighter to ignite the flame, use tightly rolled paper. A tightly rolled paper is a great alternative to a long match or lighter. You can easily light the flame without the use of a lighter or match. But while doing so, you need to position yourself at a safe distance from the pilot light.

Furnace Pilot Ignition
Furnace Pilot Ignition

FAQs about How do You Light a Furnace

Will the Pilot Always be On in Natural Gas Burners?

The answer to this question is yes. The pilot will need to be always on to turn the gas into heat. However, one of the biggest drawbacks of this is that the pilot light will need to consume some natural gas while functioning.

How to Light the Pilot on a Furnace (Old One)?

Pilot on the gas system varies from old to new ones. For example, when you have a new gas heating system, it’ll be ignited electrically. On the other hand, when you have an old gas heating system, there will be a standing pilot flame.

First Step: Turn Off the Gas

You’ll need to first set the thermostat to heat mode. Then locate the gas valve. After finding the valve, turn off the gas.

Second Step: Locate the Pilot Tube

You’ll see this near the furnace. After that, find the valve of the system. You’ll be able to see the valve in the off mode. Now, turn the valve of the system to the pilot mode.

Third Step: Ignite

It’s time to ignite the standing pilot. Get a lit match and position it to the tip of the pilot. After that get the reset button. Now, hold the button in that position for 30 to 40 seconds.

Final Step: Move the Gas Valve to On

Now start to release the button. After that slowly move the gas valve to the on position.


By the way, are you looking for an HVAC system for your home?

Check out Green Leaf Air Store where we have a wide range of residential & commercial HVAC system including: –

Complete Goodman HVAC SystemComplete Trane HVAC systemHeat PumpsAir HandlersGas Furnaces

Besides, for any Air Duct Cleaning, AC installation, AC replacement and AC repair services, call Green Leaf Air to ensure you get the best quotes and satisfying service.

Rifat A.

HVAC Expert, Author & Mathematician... rifatahmed.com

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