Furnaces and water heaters share one particular aspect in common: a pilot light. Because they both use natural gas, that fuel has to be kept open to flow. However, leaving the valve as-is just lets the gas flow into the area, creating a high risk for explosion.

Why Have A Flame At All?

A pilot light is used to burn the gas feed to a furnace or heater as it comes through with light flow, until it is actually needed. When the demand turns on, such as when the heater is needed to raise a home’s temperature, then the already lit flame ignites the increased flow and the furnace does its work. When the system cuts the flow to turn off and cool down, the pilot light remains on to repeat the ignition job again the next time. This works fine until the pilot light goes out. Then the problem of gas leaking becomes apparent by smell.

Don’t Ignore A Gas Leak

If a furnace pilot light is out, it’s no small thing. Enough built up natural gas ignited can blow up an entire home. It’s happened more often than people are aware. Whenever there is a gas leak, the home should be vented immediately. That means opening the windows and letting outside air flow in as quickly as possible. This reduces the built-up explosion potential and reduces ignition risk significantly. Once vented, and the gas leak smell persists, professional help should be called immediately. If it is clear the pilot light is out, the room or garage the furnace is in should be left vented or open until a technician arrives.

Restarting The Pilot Light

While re-lighting a pilot light may seem a simple affair, it does require a few critical steps that need to be confirmed are successful, especially with a furnace. If not, the furnace gas leak will still be a risk.

Instead of struggling with how to turn on a pilot light, control the gas flow and safely start a heater or furnace operation, a professional heating or furnace technician can help. Knowing exactly how to operate gas-fueled heating equipment, a professional technician can confirm the proper turn on procedure, ignition of the pilot light, and then confirm the operation is actually in place and doing what it should be.

The technician also has the tools and equipment necessary to make sure there are no gas leaks or presence of un-ignited gas leaking anywhere as well. Rather than risking a home in the middle of the night, it’s a smarter option to have professional help take care of the lighting as well as confirm any other natural gas plumbing pilot concerns in the home too.

What To Do In An Emergency

If the pilot light has gone out and no one is available to help, the most expedient thing to do is simply shut off the gas flow to the furnace or appliance. Every piece of major equipment has a feed hose with a valve on it. That valve is the on-off control for the gas flow. Find the valve and then turn it clearly to the off position. Then, wait for professional to arrive and handle the turn-on of the pilot light again.

Where Is The Feed Hose?

For water heaters and furnaces, the feed hose tends to be on the side. If dealing with a kitchen oven, the feed hose will be behind the oven itself. Furnaces in the attic can be particularly challenging and should be handled by a technician. Typically, these are visible in the form of a metal flexible hose going into the appliance with a lever on-off valve on it. That valve activates the flow or shut-off of the gas feed.