How to relight a boiler pilot light

If your boiler isn’t working, you may have read that you might need to relight the pilot light. In this guide, we will explain what a pilot light is, and how you can relight it.

What is a pilot light on a boiler?

The pilot light is a small blue flame that stays lit in order to light a larger burner within your boiler that is then used to heat water. Most modern boilers do not have a pilot light, and instead rely on an electric ignition. Not only is this much safer, it is also more energy efficient as it means you aren’t burning gas you won’t use.

There are two main ways to relight your pilot light: a manual ignition boiler, which you must light yourself, and an automatic pilot ignition boiler, which will light itself. If you are unsure which type of boiler you have, look at the top of the gas control knob. If it only has two settings, on and off, then you have an automatic ignition system. If it has three settings, on, off and pilot, then you have a manual boiler.

Modern boiler that use a pilot light rarely go out on their own and, if they do, you should contact a Gas Safe engineer to relight it for you. Older combi boilers, which can typically be found in rented accommodation or older homes, can go out, and these can be relit yourself by following the steps below.

Before you start

Before you can begin relighting your boiler, you need to carry out some safety checks to protect yourself and your home from a potentially harmful situation.

Check your pilot light: First, you need to make sure that the pilot light is the issue. If your boiler uses a pilot light, you should see a small opening or pocket, which is where you will find the pilot light flame. If you have a pilot light pocket but can’t see a flame, then your boiler needs to be relit.

Check the gas supply: If your boiler isn’t receiving any gas, you won’t be able to relight your boiler. You can check this by trying to ignite other gas appliances, such as your hob. If this is the case you should contact your gas supplier. Once the supply has been re-established, you can try relighting the pilot light.

Check for gas leaks: Before relighting your boiler by following the steps below, take the time to smell the air for gas. If you can smell gas after allowing the area to vent, you might have a gas leak. In this case, open all doors and windows near the boiler, leave the house, and call your gas supplier (only call from a mobile phone once you’re outside and clear of the building).

Check for carbon monoxide: As a matter of safety, we recommend that all homes have at least one carbon monoxide installed. If you don’t you won’t be able to tell if your boiler is producing this deadly gas. Before relighting your boiler, please check for carbon monoxide.

How to relight a manual boiler

Old manual boilers require that you use a match or lighter to relight the boiler yourself. This can be done fairly easily by following the steps below:

Step 1: Turn the gas control knob to the off position and wait for two minutes for the gas fumes to dissipate from the pilot light pocket.

Step 2: Remove the boiler’s front panel or door to gain access to the pilot light.

Step 3: Turn the gas control knob to the pilot position and press it inwards to begin to release gas.

Step 4: Insert a long match or butane lighter into the access hole in order to light the pilot light.

Step 5: Keep the control knob held down in the pilot position for 30–45 seconds.

Step 6: The pilot light should remain burning, but if it goes out, just repeat this process. If you have repeated this task a few times and the light keep going out, contact a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Warning: Do not attempt to relight a boiler if there is still gas in the pilot-light pocket as this increases the risk of an explosion. Call a professional to relight this type of boiler. If in doubt, check with your gas supplier before continuing.

How to relight an automatic boiler

Unlike a manual boiler, an automatic boiler will relight the pilot light for you using an electrical current. Here’s how you can make sure this happens:

Step 1: Turn off the boiler, either using its own switch or via the fuse box.

Step 2: Remove the front panel to gain access to the control knob.

Step 3: Turn the gas control knob to the off position, and then turn it back on.

Step 4: Turn the switch or fuse box back on.

Step 5: You should hear a clicking noise as the boiler relights itself, which should stop within 30 seconds.

Step 6: If the clicking noise continues or the pilot light does not relight, you should call a Gas Safe registered engineer.

If your boiler still uses a manual ignition, it could be time to upgrade it to a newer model. If your boiler is more than 10 years old, upgrading could save you hundreds of pounds a year. Find a new boiler with All England Gas and protect it with boiler cover.

For more great boiler tips, why not take a look at our knowledge hub. We cover all sorts of topics including the cheapest way to heat a home and information on boiler care and basic maintenance.

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