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Relighting A Gas Furnace Pilot Light

Modern furnaces won't have a visible pilot light and instead use an electric ignition system to light the furnace. These are more efficient as a rule but are not for the novice to work on when something goes wrong (which will typically be the thermocouple failing).

Older furnaces do have pilot lights that occasionally go out. If you have a manual for the furnace, well, congratulations–you are indeed a wonderful record-keeper. Most people lose theirs about, say, a week after they move into their home. If this situation applies to you, you can use the following steps as a guide.

Relighting Your Furnace's Pilot Light
Relighting a Gas Furnace Pilot Light

- Turn off the gas at the main valve at your utility box
- Wait five to ten minutes for gas fumes to waft away
- Get a long match–yes, a fireplace match, not a standard match
- Set the gas valve on your furnace to "pilot"
- Press the red button as you hold the match to the pilot valve
- Keep pressing the red button for 30-60 seconds so the pilot can heat the thermocouple. Release the button and see if the pilot remains lit
- If pilot goes out, wait five to ten minutes and repeat the process
- Once the pilot stays lit, turn the main gas valve back on
- If the pilot light continues to go out, call a technician, who may need to adjust or replace your thermocouple or adjust your pilot