Today most gas appliances have electric starters instead of pilot lights. However, if one morning you wake up to a shivering cold house or no hot water it’s wise to know how to relight your older appliance’s flames. Keep reading for the proper steps to take to relight pilot lights in a gas furnace and water heater.
What is a Pilot Light?
A pilot light is a small gas flame–usually natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas–that burns continuously as an ignition source for a larger burner. Unfortunately, these little flames have a bad habit of extinguishing. If its valve is dirty, the thermocouple device is faulty, or a gust of wind blows, there’s a good chance your pilot light could go out.
Relighting a Water Heater’s Pilot Light
Forget about taking a freezing cold shower! If your water heater’s pilot light went out follow the steps below (they work for most models).
- Remove the access panel – Most water heaters have a small panel covering the pilot light access point. Depending on the model it could just snap on and off, or you might need to use a screwdriver to remove it.
- Turn the gas regulator valve to “OFF” – Near the bottom of the water heater there should be a small gas regulator valve. Turn the valve off, then wait five minutes to allow any excess gas to dissipate.
- Adjust the temperature – Near the regulator valve you’ll find a temperature control valve. Turn it to the lowest setting.
- Asses the type of pilot ignition – If your water heater requires you to apply a flame to light the pilot, you can do so using a butane barbeque lighter. If your water heater is a bit newer, there may be a red “pilot ignition” switch near the regulator valve.
- Simultaneously turn the gas regulator valve to “PILOT” and ignite the pilot light – Switch the gas regulator valve from “OFF” to “PILOT” to allow gas flow. If your water heater is older, apply your butane lighter to the tip of the pilot’s valve. Do not release the regulator valve for a minute or so after ignition, you need to give the thermocouple time to kick in and sense the pilot light is on again. If your water heater has an igniter, press on the pilot valve and ignitor button simultaneously until the pilot light ignites. Continue holding in both for a minute or two to make sure the pilot light remains lit.
- Turn your water heater back on – Switch the gas regulator valve back on and reset the temperature valve to your desired setting. For your safety DO NOT set the temperature higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Replace the access panel – Snap or screw the access panel back into place over the pilot light.
Relighting a Furnace’s Pilot Light
Don’t put on a sweater or shiver in misery. Relighting your gas furnace’s pilot light is as easy as 1, 2, 3–literally!
- Turn the gas valve to “OFF” – On most furnaces there should be a small gas valve at the bottom of the unit with three positions: “ON”, “OFF”, and “PILOT”. Turn the valve off, then wait five minutes to allow any excess gas to dissipate.
- Ignite the pilot light – Turn the gas valve to “PILOT”. Near the valve there should be a small button labeled “RESET”. Press the “RESET” button while applying your butane lighter to the pilot light valve. Hold the flame steady until the pilot ignites and then release the “RESET” button.
- Turn your furnace on – Switch the valve back to the “ON” position.
Still Having Trouble with your Pilot Light?
In any of the above scenarios, if your pilot light continues to go out, it may have a faulty thermocouple. Some homeowners are confident in their DIY abilities, in this case however most prefer to call in a professional like Super Terry. If your pilot light is giving you trouble give us a contact us today, we answer 24/7!