How To Light a Furnace

How To Light a Furnace: Easy Step-by-Step Guide

Furnaces are great systems to heat your home and are sure to keep you toasty warm all winter long — unless the pilot light goes out, that is.

If this happens to you, don’t panic. Relighting your furnace’s pilot light is a lot easier than you think. Just follow this super easy step-by step-guide on how to light a furnace. 

How to light the pilot light in your furnace

Here are the easy steps for how to light the pilot light on your furnace. 

To do this, you will need a long-necked lighter and a fire extinguisher. You are unlikely to need the fire extinguisher, but you should have one nearby while trying to relight the pilot light. 

Now let’s get down to how to light a furnace:

Step #1: Do the initial checks

Sometimes we can get all the signals or symptoms that a pilot light has gone out only to discover that isn’t really the problem. Before attempting to relight your pilot, make sure you do a thorough check of your furnace and thermostat system to ensure that lighting a furnace is the correct course of action. 

One thing to do is to make sure that your furnace is connected properly to the electric and gas sources. You should also double-check that the pilot light is indeed unlit. The pilot light may be fine in some cases, and the furnace may be functioning properly, but the thermostat may just need new batteries. 

Step #2: Locate your furnace’s instruction label

Every furnace is designed with a visible and clear instruction label on it. The instructions located on this label will give a detailed description of how to light your furnace. Sometimes the instruction label can be small and difficult to read, though. If that’s the case, or you simply can’t find your furnace’s instruction label, we recommend printing out this article and keeping it close to your furnace in case the pilot light goes out again.

Step #3: Locate the pilot light 

The pilot light should be located towards the bottom of your furnace. It should be clearly labeled “Pilot” and should also have an “On/Off” switch very close by. 

If your pilot light is out, make sure you turn this switch to the “Off” position and wait at least five minutes before proceeding to step three. 

This is very important. A pilot light is a small flame that is constantly burning, whether your furnace is generating heat or not. This small flame is sustained by releasing a small amount of fuel in a constant stream. The pilot light is then used to provide the necessary flame for burning the fuel when your furnace is turned on to generate heat. If the pilot light goes out, the small but constant stream of fuel meant to power it will still release gas into the surrounding area until the pilot switch is turned off. Waiting for five minutes after you turn your pilot switch off allows this built-up fuel to disperse and prevents you from causing an explosion or a fire. 

In the meantime, you can locate the reset button, which should be found close to the switch you flipped off. Again, this waiting period is the most important step in this guide for how to light a gas furnace. 

Step #4: Re-light the pilot

After the five minutes have elapsed and the gas has dispersed, turn the switch back to “On.” Note: your switch may say “Pilot” instead of “On.”

Once you’ve turned the switch to “On,” hold down the “Reset” button while you bring your lit long-necked lighter to the pilot opening. This process should light the pilot in your furnace. As soon as the pilot light has been lit successfully, you can release the pressure on the “Reset” button. 

Important considerations and notes

There are a few things to keep in mind when trying to relight your pilot light.

  • If your pilot still won’t light after correctly following the above instructions more than two times, this likely indicates that the furnace is malfunctioning. If this is the case, you should stop attempting to light the pilot light and should contact a professional for a consultation and repair. 
  • You should never attempt to light your furnace’s pilot light without making sure it has been completely switched off for a period of five minutes. Failing to follow this crucial step can result in an incredibly dangerous situation. 
  • Relighting the pilot light is the only thing you should attempt on your furnace unless you are trained to repair furnaces. For any other problems, you should consult a professional. This is because gas can be very dangerous, and a lot can go wrong very quickly if you don’t have experience repairing furnaces. 
  • Do not attempt to relight your pilot with a short lighter or match. You should acquire a long-necked lighter or a long match before attempting to light your pilot light to ensure that there is enough distance between you and the flame you are about to ignite in your furnace. 

Conclusion and final thoughts

Most furnaces that are functioning properly won’t require you to relight the pilot light more than a few times in their life span. Most furnaces last about 15 years after installation with regular use, and it’s more likely that you’ll need to light the pilot light more frequently at the end of a furnace’s lifespan

Relighting the pilot light can seem like an intimidating task, but as you learned by following the steps above, it’s actually quite simple. Despite the fact that it’s simple enough to execute, it is still a potentially dangerous operation to attempt if you don’t follow the safety protocol. Therefore, you need to be sure that you carefully follow all of the steps and the safety recommendations listed above. 

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