How to Turn on Heater in House | Easy to Follow Step-by-Step Procedure

When the winter kicks in, it is time to get your heating system up and running.

If you have an electric wall heater, it should be pretty straightforward to turn on. However, if it is a gas system instead, you may need to know how to start a pilot light to turn it on.

As a technician, I have seen these heating systems evolve in my decades of work, especially in terms of their ignition mechanisms.

You may have the old-type or one of the newer models in your home, so this article will consider those differences while guiding you on how to turn on heater in house.

How to Turn on Heater in House (What You Will Need For This Task)

Since this is not exactly an elaborate type of exercise, the items you will need are pretty few. Specifically, you’ll need at least two items, namely:

  • A lighter; could be a long reach stove lighter or match stick
  • Screwdriver, or a tool for opening the furnace
  • A torch

Turning on Your Home’s Wall Heater

As a homeowner, you may not be overly interested in how various wall heaters or other sophisticated systems in your home operate.

Nonetheless, having a bit of knowledge of your system can go a long way in helping you save money.

In this case, knowing how to turn on heater in house could mean you don’t have to call a professional to help you at a fee. That is one way to save money.

Now, modern gas furnaces will have a spark or hot surface igniter. In addition, these types will be more automatic with their ignition.

However, if your system does not have an automatic igniter, you will need to know how to turn it on manually.

If you have an electric system, you will need to locate the circuit breaker and turn it on. Again, your user manual should show you where to find it.

Your electric heater consists of a heating element inside a metal body. An electric current heats the element, and a mortar inside the unit then blows heat into your living space via conduit air ducts.

This section will walk you through the process of turning the furnace on, whether it is a gas or electric type.

Preliminary step: going over the furnace instructions

Whether you have an electric or gas heater, basic furnace operation instructions are often on a sticker attached to the unit’s front access panel. 

Since the label may wear or get dirty and become difficult or impossible to read over time, appliance manufacturers include the same information on your furnace user manual. 

Before attempting to turn on your furnace, go over these instructions, whether on the sticker attached to your furnace or on your user manual copy.

You could also look up the instructions online with your furnace model number and make. Either of these materials will include diagrams that make it easier for you to locate the various parts we will talk about in this guide. 

Step by Step Process on How to Turn on Heater in House

Your home’s furnace is typically turned off as soon as winter is gone to save fuel and electricity. 

By the time it is winter again, your heating unit will have stayed off for a while. So you will have to inspect the area around your furnace for any water or gas leakage and clean it up by dusting it off and probably vacuum it.

After that, you will need to prep the furnace for startup by restoring its power supply.   

Step 1: Open the front panel of your furnace.

Most furnaces have screws holding their front panels in place, but some are designed to pop off without unscrewing anything. 

Study yours to see if it is the screw-type or the popping type. Next, unfasten any screws with a screwdriver and remove the panel. Ensure you keep the screws in a secure place so that you do not lose them. 

Step2: Supply electric power to the furnace

If your furnace has been off for the warm months, you may need to restore power to the furnace at your home electrical panel or fuse box.

These are usually found in your basement, utility room, or garage. The furnace fuse or breaker should be in the “On” position.

Step 3: Locate the pilot light in your furnace.  

The pilot light is a small burner located at the bottom of your furnace that remains on and lights the main burners in the furnace. 

It should be easy to locate the pilot light behind the heater vent once you open the front panel, though it can be disguised in some heater models. So you may need a torch to illuminate the place and locate it. 

The pilot light should ideally be off if your heater has not been in use. You will need to relight it to get the furnace working.

Step 4: Ignite the pilot light.

The first thing to do here is purge gas in the furnace. To do this, power off the furnace by turning its power switch to ‘Off.’ Be sure to consult your user manual to be sure of this.

Ideally, you should find the gas supply along the bottom of the furnace, inside the access panel, or on its control panel. Locate it and turn the gas supply to ‘Off.’ 

Wait for at least five minutes to allow the gas to dissipate fully. Meanwhile, use this five-minute wait period to locate the furnace’s ‘Reset’ button, usually located next to the gas supply controls. 

After five minutes, set your gas supply to ‘Pilot.’ Then, hold a flaming lighter with one hand and press and hold the ‘Reset’ button with the other hand while bringing the flame to the pilot light opening. 

Remove the lighter and let go of the ‘Reset’ button once the pilot has lit up, then turn the gas dial to ‘On.’ You should hear the main burner light up.

After this, reattach the front panel to close the furnace and complete your task. 

Step 5: Set your desired temperature

Now that your heating unit is running proceed to select the temperature you want using the thermostat. You could use the buttons on an LCD or a temperature dial – depending on what your heater has. 

As you can see, operating your heater is easy. However, knowing how to turn on the heater in your home can save you time and money, so you should get in the habit of doing it yourself. 

Please share your thoughts regarding this step-by-step guide with us in the comments section.

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Jesse Pinkman is a passionate HVAC professional writer who grew up repairing any home appliance on which he could lay his hands. He is responsible for ensuring that every article we publish is SPOT ON. When he's not in the office, he enjoys hiking, watching football, and spending time with his family.