Toolbox Essentials: Q1 2022 Catalog
How to Light a Pilot Light on Almost any Gas Appliance

How to Light a Pilot Light on Almost any Gas Appliance

Natural gas is often cheaper and more energy-efficient than electricity. However, unlike electric appliances, gas appliances need fire to provide heat. This means using pilot lights as an ignition source. While pilot lights generally stay lit all time, a gust of wind or residual buildup can cause them to go out.

If you find that one of your gas appliances isn’t working, the first thing to do is to make sure the pilot light is lit. We’ll cover how to light a pilot light on most common gas appliances found in the home. We’ll also answer some common pilot light questions.


To get started, you’re going to want to get some things together. If you have a modern gas appliance, there’s a good chance it has an electric starter. However, if your appliance is older, then you’re going to need some fire – wand lighters or long matches work great for this.

If your appliance is in a dark area, you should also consider grabbing a flashlight or headlamp. You may also need a screwdriver to access the pilot light, and a cleaning rag to clean the pilot light valve.

How to Light a Stove Pilot Light

Relighting a stove pilot light is the easiest one on the list. You can put the flashlight down – you probably won’t need it.

  • Start by removing the burner covers, as well as any other objects from the stove top.
  • Use a clean rag to wipe the burners to free any residual grease or other substances that can hinder the burners.
  • Next, open up the stove lid, and find the pilot light valves on the left and the right side of the stove.
  • With a clean rag, wipe the pilot light valves to remove any debris.
  • Finally, light the pilot light on both sides, and close the stove lid.

See? Easy-peasy.

How to Light an Oven Pilot Light

It’s not too often that you have to relight an oven’s pilot light. Since the location of the pilot light is different for each oven, it will definitely be trickier than relighting the pilot light on your stove.

Look at the bottom of the oven near the front and back corner, as well as the center near the door. If you’re having trouble finding the pilot light, consult your manual or look up your oven’s make and model online.

Once you locate it, grab your matches or lighter and light it up.
a lit burner in a heating appliance

How to Light a Furnace Pilot Light

If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of a cold night with no heat, there’s a good chance the furnace pilot light went out. Relighting a furnace pilot light is fairly straightforward.

  • The first thing you’ll want to do is find the instructions label on or near your furnace. This will help you locate the reset switch.
  • Once you’ve found the reset switch, set the switch to the “off” position to turn the gas off for a few minutes. This will help you avoid an accident by letting the gas disperse.
  • If you still smell gas after a few minutes with the gas turned off, heed caution and call your gas company immediately.
  • Once you’re ready to relight the pilot light, turn the knob on the reset switch to “Pilot.”
  • Take your lighter or match and put it in the opening where the pilot light is, and press down on the reset switch.
  • After the pilot light is lit, keep the reset switch press down until the pilot light is burning steadily.
  • Let go of the reset switch and if the pilot light is still lit, set the reset switch to the “on” position.

Once your furnace is running, pay attention to it for a minute to ensure that it stays running. If the pilot light goes out again, check for a draft. If you don’t notice a draft, then you may need to call an HVAC technician out to your home, as there may be an issue with your furnace.

How to Light Water Heater Pilot Light

Nobody likes taking cold showers. If you find that your water isn’t heating up, then you’ll need to relight your water heaters pilot light.

Instructions on how to relight the pilot light on your water heater very by model. Like relighting a furnace pilot light, you should consult the instructions printed on the label found on your water heater.

  • Start by turning the reset switch to the off position. Leave the gas turned off for a few minutes to allow any seems to dissipate.
  • If you smell gas after having the switch off, heed caution and contact your gas company, as you may have a gas leak.
  • Once you’re ready to relight the pilot light, turn the reset switch to the pilot setting.
  • With your lighter or match in hand, put it into the opening into the pilot opening and press the reset switch down.
  • Once you’ve got in the pilot light lit, keep the switch press down for a minute.
  • Once the pilot light is burning steadily, let go of the sweat let go of the button and turn the reset switch to the on position.

Just like a furnace pilot light, you’ll want to keep an eye on the water heater for a minute to ensure the pilot light stays lit. If it doesn’t, check for a draft and try again.

If the pilot light won’t stay lit after multiple attempts, you may need to clean the pilot light valve. If you aren’t comfortable doing this yourself, consider contacting an HVAC technician.

Pilot Light FAQs

We’ve covered how to light the pilot light on various home appliances. Now, let’s get into some commonly asked questions about pilot lights.

Why Does My Pilot Light Go Out?

There are a number of reasons that a pilot light can go out. Let’s take a look at some possible causes.


Sometimes water can get in the pilot light valve. This could be from condensation from a water heater or a leak.


The most common way furnace and water heater pilot lights go out is from a draft. All it takes is a strong gust of wind in the right direction to cause the pilot light to go out.

Faulty Equipment

Nothing lasts forever. Over time, components in your appliances will degrade and cease to function. Gas valves and thermocouple connections can go bad, causing the pilot light to go out.

Gas Problems

While rather uncommon, the issue may lie in the gas lines themselves. This could be trapped air in the gas line or improper pressure that can hinder the function of your gas appliances.

What Are Possible Reasons for a Pilot Light Not Lighting?

There are a number of reasons a pilot light might not light. The most obvious is the gas not running. Moisture in the pilot valve or a draft coming in through an exhaust vent are other common reasons.

Less common reasons include having the pilot light turned down too low, or having a broken reset switch. It’s also possible that a dirty pilot tube tip can cause the pilot light to not light. In this case, you’ll need to take a needle or small nail to clean the inside of the tube tip.

Why Is My Pilot Light Flickering?

Your pilot light is most likely flickering because there is a draft. Check your room for areas where a draft can come in through. If your appliance is in a well contained area, there’s a good chance the draft is coming in through the exhaust vent itself.

Why Does the Pilot Light Go Out Whenever I Turn the Knob to the on Position?

When lighting a pilot light, you should keep the button held down for a minute. This is because it takes awhile for the thermocouple that opens the gas line to warm up. Try holding the button down for longer before turning the knob to the “on” position.

Light It Up

When your pilot light goes out, your gas appliances stop working. Rather than taking cold showers or calling a professional to help with a very simple DIY job, you can get your gas appliances fired up. All it takes is a few simple supplies and a few minutes to get your appliance back in working order.