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How to Light a Furnace

February 16, 2024

Your furnace keeps you and your family comfortable inside your home when it gets cold. If your furnace isn't doing the job it's supposed to, sometimes the problem is as simple as an extinguished pilot light.

Your furnace relies on the pilot light to ignite the system and generate warm air. Without it, your furnace lacks the combustion it needs to do its job. Fortunately, if you know how to light a furnace, it's a simple task that can be handled in just a few minutes:

  • Why lighting your furnace matters
  • Preparations for lighting a furnace
  • Step-by-step instructions for lighting your furnace
  • When to call in the professionals

Here are the instructions for lighting a pilot light on a furnace on your own.

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Are you looking for someone to handle preventative maintenance so you know your furnace is in good working order? Call the professionals at Jon Wayne and ask about our Heating "Super" Tune-Up. We'll conduct a 35-point inspection to catch any trouble areas and make sure your furnace will keep you warm all winter.

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Why Lighting Your Furnace Matters

Your furnace uses combustion to heat the air in your home. When the thermostat registers a temperature below its setting, it signals your furnace to kick on the burner. The continuous flame of the pilot light is the source of ignition for this process. If there is no flame, the burner can't ignite and provide the warmth you need. If your furnace isn't blowing warm air, check if the pilot light has gone out.

Preparations for Lighting a Furnace

Before performing any maintenance on your furnace, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the model you have installed by looking over the instruction manual. This will explain where everything is in your system and make it easier to understand what you're looking at while lighting the furnace.

  • Gather Tools: Generally, the only tools you'll need to relight your pilot light are a flashlight and a long match or lighter. On most models, access should be available without needing to unscrew any paneling, so you just need extra light to see what you're doing.
  • Turn Off Gas Supply: For safety, remember to turn off the gas in your furnace before approaching it with an open flame. It's also a good idea to wait about five minutes for any gas in the system to dissipate so you don't ignite anything other than the pilot light. Once you're confident there is no residual gas left in the line, you can get to work lighting your furnace.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Lighting Your Furnace

These instructions are good for most furnace models, but your manual should have specific information if there are differences in your setup.

  • Turn Off the Furnace: Set the thermostat to its lowest setting and turn off the furnace's power and gas supply.
  • Remove the Furnace Cover and Locate Pilot Light Control Knob or Button: The pilot light control knob is often found near the bottom of the furnace and will be labeled with "Pilot," "On," and "Off" settings.
  • Set the Control Knob to "Pilot": Turn the knob to the "Pilot" setting. You'll know you're in the right spot when you can push the knob in like a button.
  • Ignite the Pilot Light: Press the knob and give it a few seconds for the gas to reach the pilot nozzle. Use your match or lighter to ignite the pilot light, and keep the knob pressed down a little longer to ensure it has a steady gas supply. This will usually take around 30 seconds in total.
  • Check the Pilot Light: After releasing the button, the pilot light should stay lit. If it goes out, repeat the lighting process.
  • Replace the Furnace Cover: Once the pilot light is lit and stable, put the front panel back on the furnace.
  • Turn the Furnace On: Now let the knob back up and turn it to the "On" position to allow gas to flow freely back into your furnace for the burner.
  • Check for Proper Operation: Ensure the furnace ignites and operates as expected.

When to Call in the Professionals

Even if you know how to relight the pilot light and do everything correctly, sometimes there are more complex problems that require a professional. If your pilot light won't stay lit when you release the control knob, or if it continually goes out, it may need some extra maintenance or repairs. A weak flame is also cause for concern and is better left to the experts to address.

Let the Jon Wayne Experts Find Your Solution

If you're having trouble getting your pilot light to stay on, contact Jon Wayne to schedule a professional to troubleshoot your system. Our NATE-certified technicians will diagnose the issue and provide you with fast results backed by our 100% satisfaction guarantee.

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