Top 5 Ways to Re-light Your Furnace Safely

December 14, 2023
Furnace repair in Orchard Park, NY

When the pilot light on your gas furnace goes out, it stops circulating warm air, leaving you shivering. A gust of wind, a faulty thermocouple, or a build-up of dirt can extinguish that small, essential blue flame. Before fumbling to re-light the pilot in the dark, understand the proper procedure to avoid safety hazards. Though lighting methods vary across furnace models, the basic process is straightforward if you know what to do. With some caution and these step-by-step instructions, you can get your heat working again in no time. Here are the basics of safely reigniting your furnace’s pilot light.

1. Prepare for Re-lighting

Before lighting the pilot, assemble needed supplies like a long lighter and flashlight. Ventilate the space by opening nearby windows to prevent gas buildup. Then, read all manufacturer warnings to understand potential hazards and system damage risks. Paying attention upfront prevents accidents down the line.

Your furnace may have a re-lighting label. Use the steps provided here if reading in the dark and furnace instructions are missing or hard to understand. Following the manufacturer’s cautions and having adequate light and ventilation are vital safety precautions. Be sure to complete critical steps that reduce re-lighting dangers. With proper diligence, you can safely reignite the pilot light.

2. Locate the Furnace Pilot Light

The pilot light is typically a tiny knob at the bottom of the furnace marked “pilot,” “off,” and “on.” When lit, it looks like a small candle flame. If you smell gas or notice the knob is off without a visible flame, do not attempt to re-light it yourself, as it may indicate a hazardous gas leak. Immediately turn off the gas, vacate the home, ventilate the space, and call a professional.

Don’t attempt to re-light it if there’s no pilot flame or you notice the gas odor. The lack of a flame could indicate a hazardous gas leak. Shut off the gas valve, remove everyone from the home, and contact a Vastola Heating & Cooling qualified technician. Never try re-lighting the pilot yourself when leak warnings are present. Improper re-lighting with a leak can have disastrous results.

3. Turn off the Gas

Before attempting to re-light the pilot, locate the gas shut-off valve on the unit or central line. Fully close this valve to halt fuel flow. Turning off the gas prevents leakage as you work.

Double-check that the shut-off valve is fully rotated to the off position. Whether you smell gas or not, cutting off the supply line is a vital protection. Gas closure lets you safely light the pilot without flammable fuel accidentally leaking into the space. With the line secured, focus next on preparation to reignite.

4. Re-Light the Pilot

Once preparations are complete, re-light the pilot by holding the igniter switch or inserting a lit match. Trigger the ignition and hold it for 60-90 seconds to warm the thermocouple. Repeat the process if the flame doesn’t hold until it stays lit. After ignition, verify the pilot remains steadily lit for at least a minute before release. If the flame goes out upon letting go, continue depressing the igniter longer to heat the thermocouple fully. With the pilot properly reignited and holding, turn the gas back on.

5. Turn the Furnace Back On

With the pilot lit, rotate the gas valve back to the open position. Next, switch the furnace power button to “on,” allowing it to reignite the burners and resume heating. Observe system operation for several minutes. As the furnace begins firing, verify typical performance. Look for proper flame color and movement. Listen for odd sounds like hissing, indicating residual gas leaks. Observe operation for a few minutes before leaving to confirm all systems work safely and efficiently again.

Seek Expert Help

The thermocouple likely needs replacement if the pilot doesn’t stay lit after multiple re-light attempts. Call for furnace services immediately if flames seem abnormal or you still smell gas. Additionally, professionals should conduct periodic inspections and maintenance to keep your unit running safely.

For expert help with pilot light issues, trust the experienced team at Vastola Heating & Cooling. We have provided reliable furnace services in Erie County and Western New York since 1946. Our services include heating repair, installations for all makes and models, and additional services like generator repair, ductless mini splits, and water heater servicing. If you smell gas, see defective flames, or can’t get your pilot light reignited after multiple tries, contact our specialists immediately.