Safely Reignite Your Furnace’s Pilot Light

September 6, 2021
Furnace Reignition in Seattle
Updated: February 16, 2024

If you have a gas furnace, it has a pilot light. The flame should be blue in color and steady. If there is an issue, the light will go out completely. This can be due to a variety of different reasons. Most of the time, when the flame goes out, it is because of a draft or other minor issue. When the pilot light goes out, you can easily relight it yourself.

Gather Your Tools

Relighting your pilot light will not require many tools. All you will need is a long-handled match or long-reach lighter and a flashlight.

Read the Instructions

Look on your furnace to find the label that will have the instructions on how to relight the pilot. Make sure you take along your flashlight so that you can see the instructions. If you cannot find a label on your furnace, find the manual that came with the unit. If you still cannot find the instructions, look on the manufacturer’s website for further information.

Locate the Pilot Light

The next step you will need to take is to locate the pilot light. If you have read the instructions, you should easily find the pilot light. However, if you were unable to find the instructions, check the bottom of the furnace. You should see a knob or switch. It will have three indicators: pilot, on, and off.

Allow the Gas to Dissipate

When you find the switch, turn it to the off position. This will shut the valve off and keep the gas from entering. Allow the gas to dissipate for at least five minutes as a safety precaution. Gas that is trapped in the area can cause a fire hazard. After the five minutes have passed, switch the knob to the pilot position. This will allow the gas to enter the pilot light for ignition.

Safely Reignite Your Furnaces Pilot Light graphic

Relight the Pilot Light

Look next to the on/off switch, and you should see the reset button. You will now want to press and hold that button while using your lighter or match near the pilot light opening. Your pilot light should reignite. Wait a moment to make sure that the pilot light is burning steadily, and then release the button. Watch the flame for a few minutes to make sure that it does not cut back off again.

My Pilot Light Went Out Again, What Could It Be?

Many things can cause your pilot light to go out, and it could be something that you need to have repaired. If you try to light the pilot light again and it will not relight, the following could be the reason.

Faulty Thermocouple

If your pilot light does not stay lit, the thermocouple could be to blame. The thermocouple is the rod that the pilot flame hits on. You may hear it called a flame sensor. It shuts the gas off immediately when the pilot goes out. If it fails to shut off the gas, it could allow all the gas to get into your home.

To ensure that this is not the problem, shut off the power to your furnace and close the gas valve. To find the thermocouple, look at the pilot light and then look for a copper rod. Look to see if it is broken or dirty. There are several reasons why it may go bad.

The thermocouple may be broken, and that will not allow it to detect the flame. It could also be dirty and filled full of residue. Another issue is that it could be misaligned and not making good contact.

If you verify that something may be wrong with your thermocouple, you will want to call an experienced HVAC professional. While it may be tempting to deal with it yourself, this is an imperative piece of your HVAC system and helps protect you from gas exposure.

Dirty Pilot Orifice

If you get your pilot light on for a moment, watch the flame. The flame should be a strong blue color. It should not be flickering, nor should it be a weak yellow flame. If you do have a weak flame, this indicates that the pilot orifice is full of dirt. This orifice will have to be cleaned by disassembling the pilot and clearing out the dirt. This is done with compressed air or a needle. You should not do this yourself as these are crucial parts of your furnace system.

Bad Gas Regulator

Your pilot light can go out if you have a bad regulator. This will affect all your gas appliances. If you start to notice that you have trouble out of several of your appliances, this is a strong indicator that you have an issue with your regulator. You will want to call your gas company quickly for a replacement regulator.

Gas Related Issues

If you are on natural gas, and your pilot light goes out, it could be that the natural gas is at consumption in your area. The gas pressure may go out intermittently. Even the slightest decrease in the gas supply can make your pilot go out. Wait a little while before trying your gas again. You can also call your gas company to find out if it is in peak usage time. If you have propane gas, check your tank to see what your gas levels are. If you are low, it may be the reason for your pilot light going out. Call your gas company for a propane refill as soon as possible.

Improper Airflow

If your pilot light lights but then goes out again later, you may have a draft somewhere. This draft can happen in the output of your duct, or your intake air registers may be closed off and creating a vacuum effect. You may notice this more when the day and night are very windy. Make sure that you keep your registers open and work to seal any drafts.

The Importance of Calling a Professional

When it comes to furnace issues, you will always want to rely on a professional to get you back up and running. If you have any trouble relighting your pilot light and it keeps going off, do not hesitate to call us and get an appointment. You do not want to wait until your house gets cold. Chances are that the problem is simple, and you will be back up and running in no time.

Contact Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning for HVAC service!

At Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning, whenever you have a problem with your pilot light, we will be there to help you get it functioning properly. We serve the Western Washington area. We offer various services, including heating repairs, cooling repairs, furnace installations, AC replacements, water heater repair, electric, energy consultation, duct cleaning, and more. If you are having trouble with your pilot light, please call us today for an appointment. We want to be your one-stop-shop for all your heating service and cooling service needs.

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