How To Light A Pilot Light On A Furnace

December 20, 2021
Pilot light burning strong in Martinsburg, WV, home.

Lighting the pilot light on your furnace can seem impossible if you’ve never done it before. Knowing the proper way to light the pilot light can make turning your furnace on a breeze, however.

Don’t go another day without heat because your pilot light won’t stay lit. We’ll go over the easy, detailed steps for how to light a pilot light on a furnace.

Common Ignition Methods

Before we discuss how to turn on a pilot light for a furnace, let’s review furnace ignition methods. While we will only discuss how to light a pilot light on a furnace for a standing pilot light, it’s essential to know the three most common ignition methods:

  • Standing Pilot Light Ignition: A standing pilot light is the most familiar; if you have a natural gas furnace, you’ll find a blue flame in front of one of your furnace’s burners. Occasionally, the pilot light may need to be relit with a furnace pilot light lighter, or the thermocouple may need to be replaced.
  • Intermittent Pilot Ignition: Newer furnaces often have electronic ignition systems, and some have intermittent pilot ignition. These systems use an electric igniter for lighting a pilot light.
  • Hot Surface Ignition: Certain electronic ignition systems have hot surface igniters. The gas is ignited by the igniter after the gas valve opens.

Now, it’s time to get into the steps for how to light the pilot light on a furnace! We’ll go through each step thoroughly.

1. Examining The Label of Instructions on Your Furnace

Check all over the outside of your furnace for a label that contains instructions. These instructions should help you find where your pilot light is and give you specific information that relates to your brand and model of furnace. You may also see specific instructions there on how to light the pilot light on your furnace. Refer to these steps if at all possible.

If you’re not able to locate these instructions for how to light a furnace, don’t worry. Contact Johnson & Johnson Heating and Air Conditioning in Martinsburg, WV, and we will do our best to help you get your furnace pilot light lit.

2. Set The Furnace Pilot Light To The “Off” Position

If you can’t locate the instructions, that shouldn’t be a problem. Look near the lower part of your furnace, and you will likely see a button that says “Pilot” or “Off.”

It’s time to turn off the gas. What you want to do is set that button or dial to “Off.” Next, you want to wait at least 5-10 minutes so that any gas in the area clears out sufficiently. If there is still a little gas, you may have an accidental fire near your furnace.

3. Use A Lighter To Light Your Pilot Light

Finally, turn the knob (or dial) from “Off” to “Pilot.” After you have successfully turned the knob to “Pilot,” you will need a furnace pilot light lighter for relighting the pilot light. It’s best to use a long match or long lighter to distance yourself from the pilot light. The longer the lighter, the easier it will be to get the lighter close to the pilot light opening. Either a match or lighter will work as a furnace pilot light lighter.

Take your lighter or match and light the pilot light within the pilot opening of your furnace while holding the “Reset” button down. You will see the “Reset” button near the “On/Off/Pilot” button.

After you have lit the pilot light with your furnace pilot light lighter, you can release the “Reset” button.

Why Your Pilot Light Went Out

Now you know how to light a furnace pilot light! But why did the pilot go out in the first place? Here are two common causes:

  1. Malfunctioning Thermocouple: Your pilot light gets natural gas from a small tube, and this tube is fitted with a safety valve called a thermocouple. If the thermocouple malfunctions or becomes blocked with dirt, this can limit the amount of oxygen reaching your pilot light, making the light unable to ignite.
  2. Insufficient Flame: What color is your pilot light flame? It should be blue, but if it’s yellow, then this means you have a poor flame. As a result, your thermocouple should cut off the gas flowing to the pilot light.

When to Contact a Professional

If you need assistance with understanding how to light the pilot light on a furnace, you can always contact a local heating technician for help. Additionally, there are some furnace repairs that require professional attention, which is when you can turn to your friendly HVAC contractors in Martinsburg, WV.

At Johnson & Johnson Heating and Air Conditioning, we can help you with everything related to heating and cooling for your residential or commercial property. These include seasonal tune-ups and indoor air quality services. Contact us today to get more information about our heating repairs in Martinsburg, WV!

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