Steps to Take When Your Pilot Light Goes Out: Detailed Instructions

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Furnace plays a vital role in maintaining comfort, especially during the chilly winters when all we are dreaming about is staying in our warm homes. However, as with any complex system, there are times when the furnace might encounter hiccups, and one of the most frustrating situations is when the furnace pilot light goes out unexpectedly. In this article, we’ll explore the causes behind this issue, consider essential safety precautions, and provide a detailed step-by-step guide to relighting the pilot light.

What Is a Pilot Light, and Why Is It Important?

Before we dive into troubleshooting, let’s start with the basics. What exactly is the furnace pilot light, and why is it so crucial?

The furnace pilot light is a small, continuous flame that serves as the ignition source for your furnace. It’s responsible for lighting the main burner whenever your thermostat signals a need for heat. When the furnace pilot light is out, your furnace won’t be able to heat your home efficiently or at all.

Common Reasons for the Pilot Light Out on Furnace

When the furnace pilot light is out, it’s a signal that something has disrupted this essential process, and it requires prompt attention to restore your furnace to its optimal performance. Now, let’s explore why this might happen and how to address it effectively.

  • Drafts and Ventilation: Drafts of air in your home can disrupt the pilot light. Ensure that doors and windows near the furnace are closed, and there are no strong drafts in the vicinity.
  • Dust and Debris: Over time, dust and debris can accumulate near the pilot light assembly, obstructing the flame. Regular furnace maintenance, including cleaning, can prevent this issue.
  • Thermocouple Malfunction: The thermocouple is a safety device that senses whether the pilot light is on. If it detects that the pilot light is out, it shuts off the gas supply to prevent gas buildup. If the thermocouple malfunctions, it can mistakenly shut off the gas even when the pilot light is lit.
  • Gas Supply Issues: Sometimes, issues with the gas supply, such as low gas pressure or a malfunctioning gas valve, can lead to the pilot light going out.
  • Dirty or Worn Components: Components like the pilot orifice or burner assembly can become dirty or worn over time, affecting the pilot light’s performance.
    Faulty Gas Regulator: A faulty gas regulator can also result in an inadequate gas supply to keep the pilot light lit.
  • Age and Wear: Older furnaces are more prone to pilot light issues due to wear and tear. If you have an older furnace, it may be worth considering a replacement.

Understanding these potential causes can help you pinpoint the issue when your furnace pilot light is out. We recommend you consult professional HVAC specialists who can help you detect the real cause of the malfunction.

Check out 5 common reasons of the noisy furnace in our previous article.

Taking Safety Precautions Before Starting the Furnace Repair Process

When it comes to repairing HVAC malfunctions, safety is our top priority. Before you embark on any furnace repair or maintenance task, it’s crucial to take the necessary safety precautions to protect yourself, and your home. Dealing with a furnace pilot light issue requires careful handling to ensure everything goes smoothly.

When your furnace pilot light is out, we understand that you want to restore it as quickly as possible. However, taking a few moments to prioritize safety can save you from potential hazards. Here are some essential safety precautions to observe:

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  • Gas Odor: If you detect even a hint of gas odor around your furnace, do not proceed. Gas leaks are dangerous and require immediate attention. Evacuate your home, ensure doors and windows are open to ventilate the area, and contact your gas company right away.
  • Ventilation: Ensure that the area around your furnace is well-ventilated before you begin any repair work. Proper ventilation helps disperse any gas buildup.
  • Flammable Materials: Remove any flammable materials or substances from the vicinity of your furnace. This includes paper, rags, and other combustibles.
  • Protective Gear: Consider wearing safety goggles and gloves to protect your eyes and hands during the repair process.
  • Fire Extinguisher: Keep a fire extinguisher nearby, just in case. It’s a precautionary measure that can be invaluable in emergencies.
  • No Open Flames: Do not use open flames, such as candles or lighters, near the furnace. Stick to long-reach lighters designed for the purpose.

Taking these safety precautions ensures that you can address the issue of a furnace pilot light safely and effectively.

How to Relight the Pilot Light: Step-by-Step Instructions

Relighting the furnace pilot light is a fundamental skill that every homeowner should have in their toolkit. Below, we’ll walk you through the process of relighting the pilot light, so you can restore warmth and comfort to your home.

1) Turn Off the Gas: Locate the gas control valve near your furnace and turn it to the “Off” position. This action stops the flow of gas to the pilot light and burner.

2) Wait for Gas to Disperse: Wait for approximately five minutes to allow any residual gas in the area to disperse completely. This waiting period is crucial for safety to prevent any potential gas ignition.

3) Locate the Pilot Light Assembly: The pilot light assembly is typically located near the bottom of your furnace. You’ll find it behind a small metal access panel.

4) Access the Pilot Light: Carefully remove the metal access panel to gain access to the pilot light assembly. Be cautious not to damage any components or wiring during this step.

5) Locate the Pilot Light Knob: Within the pilot light assembly, you’ll find a knob with settings like “Off,” “On,” and “Pilot.” Turn this knob to the “Pilot” position.

6) Depress and Hold the Knob: While firmly holding down the knob in the “Pilot” position, use a long-reach lighter or a fireplace match to ignite the pilot light. Position the flame at the pilot orifice, which is the small opening where the pilot flame should appear.

7) Keep Holding for a Minute: Continue to hold the knob down for about a minute after the pilot light ignites. This allows the thermocouple (the safety device) to heat up and confirm that the pilot light is burning steadily.

8) Release the Knob: After a minute has passed, release the knob. The pilot light should remain lit. If it goes out, wait a few minutes, and repeat the process.

9) Restore Gas: Turn the knob back to the “On” position to restore the gas flow to your furnace.

10) Replace the Access Panel: Carefully replace the metal access panel you removed earlier, ensuring it is securely in place.

Follow these steps diligently to successfully relit the furnace pilot light. However, if you encounter any issues or if the pilot light continues to go out, it may be time to consider professional assistance. At HVAC Service Solutions, we have dozens of years of dealing with different furnace issues, so you can rest assured everything is done to the highest standards.

Find out more about how our furnace repair process is going on via the link below.

What to Do If the Pilot Light Won't Stay Lit or Keeps Going Out?

What to Do If the Pilot

If you ever find yourself in a situation where your furnace’s pilot light just won’t cooperate, don’t fret. It’s a common issue, and addressing it promptly is key to keeping your home cozy. While relighting the pilot light can often do the trick, sometimes, the problem persists, and that’s when you might need a bit more than a DIY solution.

But what can cause this frustrating issue?

1. Weak Pilot Flame: A pilot flame that is too weak may struggle to withstand minor disruptions or drafts.

2. Thermocouple Malfunction: The thermocouple, a safety device, may malfunction and erroneously shut off the gas supply.

Here are the ways to troubleshoot this pilot light problem yourself:

  • Examine the pilot flame’s strength. If it’s weak, carefully adjust the pilot light knob to increase the flame size.
  • Inspect the thermocouple for cleanliness and proper positioning within the pilot flame. Clean it if necessary.
  • Check the thermocouple’s connections for loose or corroded wires, and ensure they are securely attached.

If, after performing these troubleshooting steps, the pilot light still won’t stay lit or continues to go out, it’s advisable to seek the expertise of a professional HVAC technician.

Check out the 10 most common furnace repair issues and the ways to fix them in our previous article.

When It’s Time to Call a Professional

While we’ve talked about DIY fixes for the pilot light out on furnace issue, there are moments when it’s just time to call in the professionals. Your home’s heating system is no small matter, and when problems linger, it’s better to get expert help.

Why does professional help matter? Well, it’s about getting things right. Experienced HVAC technicians can figure out the exact cause of your pilot light troubles. They’re also aware of safety precautions, so they will make sure your furnace runs smoothly without any risks. Plus, they’re all about long-term solutions, saving you from repeated headaches and breakdowns.

At HVAC Service Solutions, we know how important a cozy home is, especially in Canada’s cold seasons. With years of HVAC experience under our belt, we’re here to get you covered. When you choose us, you’re choosing a team dedicated to keeping your home warm, safe, and worry-free. If your pilot light problems seem never-ending, give HVAC Service Solutions a call, and we’ll make sure your home stays comfortably warm.


Pilot light out on furnace can be a common issue with furnace systems, but it’s a problem that can be resolved with a few simple steps. By following the troubleshooting and relighting procedures outlined above, you can ensure your furnaces continue to operate efficiently and safely.

Meanwhile, we’re here to guarantee your home remains a haven of warmth and coziness. Your comfort is our priority, and we’re just a click away. Contact us right now via the link below.