Propane appliance pilot lights

How pilot lights work

Some propane appliances are fired up through an electronic ignition. However, many propane appliances have a pilot light. This is a small burning flame inside the appliance that indicates that it is working properly and lights the main appliance burner when this is required.

Under normal circumstances (ideal burn), the pilot light is a blue flame. If the flame is larger than normal (rich burn) or shoots away and goes out (lean burn), it is likely that your appliance or propane system requires maintenance.

What to do if your pilot light goes out

If you suspect your pilot light is not acting normally, it is best not to fix it yourself but to call your propane company to have a qualified service technician examine the appliance.

You should

  • carefully follow the appliance manufacturer’s instructions,
  • allow air to flow in the room by opening windows,
  • and stay alert for the smell of propane (including on the floor as propane is heavier than air).

A malfunctioning pilot light poses a risk of explosion if there is a propane leak so ensure there is no source of ignition in the area and clear the room of unnecessary people.

Don’t “do-it-yourself”

If you decide to relight your appliance pilot light yourself (not recommended), use only your hands. Indeed, using tools may lead to appliance damage and increase the risk of causing a propane leak. Similarly, do not open valves as this may release gas. Lastly, do not use oil as the appliance mechanism might stick and malfunction.