Does a Furnace Have A Pilot Light? Facts You Should Know


Gas furnaces come with various ignition systems. Not all have a pilot light. Electronic ignition systems are more common in new models. The pilot light ignites the gas, which then triggers the burners to heat up your home. Common issues with this process include recurrent pilot light problems.

If you have an older furnace with a pilot light ignition source, it’s important to recognize signs of pilot light issues. This can be due to a faulty thermocouple, dirty pilot orifice, or other causes.

It’s worth noting that electronic ignition systems are safer and more efficient than manual pilot lights. They don’t require a continuous flame source. Regular maintenance is necessary for optimal performance and safety. Carbon monoxide detectors also keep your family safe when using gas appliances.

Gas furnaces have changed over time to ensure energy efficiency, safety, and comfort. These changes led to higher energy efficiency ratings and reduced heating costs, while being environmentally friendly. Think of a pilot light as a tiny flame that never sleeps, except when it causes furnace headaches.

Does a Furnace Have A Pilot Light

Image of a furnace with the pilot light

What is a Pilot Light?

Pilot lights are small flames that ignite gas furnaces and appliances. They can be found in older and newer furnace models

The purpose? To provide a constant flame, ignite the gas and heat your home.

Pilot lights pose a risk of carbon monoxide exposure. Avoid this by installing CO detectors and regular furnace maintenance.

To keep the pilot light lit, do regular maintenance, clean parts like thermocouples and flame sensors, check air flow/ventilation, reset the red button, or change the pilot orifice. All this helps ensure your comfort and furnace’s performance.

How Pilot Lights Work

Pilot lights are widely used for gas appliances. A small flame is lit to keep the gas supply going. The pilot light is always on and will ignite the main burner when needed. It’s an important part, as it’s the ignition source for the appliance’s fuel system. Some modern appliances don’t have pilot lights but use electronic ignition systems instead.

If you have trouble with a pilot light, like needing to relight it or if it’s weak, you should get an HVAC professional to check the thermocouple or flame sensor. These parts help with proper ignition and performance.

Pilot lights are reliable, and will last about a year with regular cleaning. But, the environment can influence its lifespan.

Safety is a concern with pilot lights, such as carbon monoxide leaks. So, install carbon monoxide detectors near your gas furnace to avoid any dangerous outcomes.

To sum up, most modern furnaces use electronic ignition systems due to their energy efficiency and being environmentally friendly. Proper maintenance keeps comfort levels up, and ensures safety.

Common Pilot Light Issues

Dealing with gas furnace ignition sources is essential for safe and comfy living. 

Here are some important points about pilot lights to know:

  • Not enough heat or no heat, recurrent pilot light problems, and a tiny blue flame are key causes of furnace failure.
  • Routine maintenance, parts replacement, checking thermocouples and flame sensors, and resetting the pilot lights in case of technical troubles can reduce recurrent pilot light issues.
  • Carbon monoxide leaks due to faulty ignition systems are the most dangerous aspect of these appliances. If you notice symptoms like headaches, nausea or fatigue, immediate attention is required.
  • You may see a red button or front panel opening in your appliance to reset it after a power loss or something else. Instructions on the access panel or data plate may help.
  • Once, my furnace wouldn’t turn on. I tried many things, but no luck. So, I called a qualified HVAC professional. It turned out the wind had knocked out its delicate flow sensor, making firing difficult. Thankfully it was fixed fast.

To evade a fiery end, make sure your furnace pilot light stays lit and healthy.

Pilot Light Safety

As an HVAC pro, I get pilot light safety. Without a proper ignition source, fuel like natural gas can be dangerous. Regular maintenance stops reoccurring pilot light issues. A small blue flame is good, big or yellow not so much. Reset the pilot light with the red button on the gas valve or read the furnace manual.

Newer furnaces use electronic ignition systems, which can be more efficient. But they need regular maintenance and expert attention to keep running.

One of my clients called me in a panic. They suspected a gas leak. I checked for carbon monoxide and the furnace data plate. It showed an issue with the thermocouple. If left, it could have been hazardous. I replaced the faulty part, preventing any safety issues.

In conclusion, knowing the types of furnaces and understanding pilot light issues are key to comfort and safety. Get a qualified HVAC pro if unsure, better safe than sorry. Pilot light maintenance is necessary as it stops potential disasters.

Pilot Light Maintenance

It’s essential to maintain your gas furnace’s pilot light for optimal performance. 

Here’s a 4-step guide to help you do this:

  1. Turn off the shut-off valves, Check your owner’s manual first.
  2. Gain access to the burner compartment, Carefully remove the panel.
  3. Check the pilot light. Look out for any small flame or failure to ignite.
  4. Clean the furnace and adjust the flame. Reassemble it and turn it on. If the problem persists, call a pro.

A malfunctioning ignition system could be the cause of pilot light issues. Also, pay attention to any carbon monoxide leaks.

If you’re having pilot light problems, call a specialist for repair and replacement.

Pilot Light Repair and Replacement

When it comes to gas furnaces, the pilot light is essential. It ignites the furnace. But if there’s a problem, it can cause major issues with performance and safety. 

Here are steps to fix or replace the pilot light:

  1. Identify why it may not be lighting properly. This could be lack of gas flow, wind, or a problem with the thermocouple or flame sensor.
  2. Try resetting the furnace. Turn off power and gas supply, wait a few minutes, then turn it back on.
  3. Check the manual for instructions on accessing and cleaning the pilot orifice and other ignition system parts.
  4. Ensure no gas leaks or carbon monoxide issues before continuing. This requires a qualified HVAC professional.
  5. If cleaning and troubleshooting don’t work, upgrade to new furnaces with electronic ignition systems.
  6. Regular maintenance is key. Professional assessments once a year, checking access panels weekly, testing carbon monoxide detectors, and following replacement schedules for parts such as thermocouples.

Other causes can lead to recurrent pilot light issues. Electric furnaces have double longevity compared to gas ones. They are cost-effective, safe, and reduce energy consumption. Take care of your heating system with regular maintenance and expert help when needed.


Knowledge of pilot lights and furnace tech is key. A gas furnace always has a pilot light for ignition. Trouble with the pilot light must not be ignored and carbon monoxide detectors are a must-have for safety. Maintenance is necessary to avoid further issues. For manual pilot lights, always turn off the gas valve before changing or cleaning its parts. For electronic ignition systems, press the red button on the control panel once or twice. Refer to your furnace’s data plate or manual for instructions. Qualified HVAC professionals should be called for repairs or replacements. They can diagnose the problem and help restore heating performance. I recall when my gas furnace had a small flame instead of a blue one. Wind blew out the pilot flame. I relit it, following the instructions in my manual and access panel, and all was well again!