How to Troubleshoot an Oven Pilot Light

Many older gas ovens have pilot lights, which ignite gas that heats the oven. The pilot light is a small flame that stays continuously lit. When the owner turns up the thermostat, the pilot light surges and expands the flame to cover the safety valve thermocouple. When the safety valve thermocouple is heated, it sends an electrical impulse to open a valve that allows gas to enter the oven burner, where it is burned to supply heat. Most owners of a gas oven can troubleshoot the pilot light using a few simple household tools.

Some ovens need pilot lights to work.
  1. Find access to the pilot light. Most pilot lights are located beneath the bottom shelf of the gas oven. Remove the shelf and use a screwdriver to remove the flame spreader. If the bottom shelf does not easily lift up, access the pilot light by opening the broiler door and removing the broiler shelf.

  2. Observe the pilot light. Either the pilot light is lit but will not light the oven, or the pilot light is unlit. If there is no flame on the pilot light, remove any grease or burned food collected around it. Use a straight pin to clean out the orifice and a wire brush and dishwashing detergent to remove any grease from the pilot light. Then attempt to light the pilot light with a long match. If the pilot light fails to light, there is a problem with the thermostat or the gas piping to the light.

  3. Turn up the thermostat while observing the pilot light if the light is lit but does not ignite gas to the oven. The pilot light should surge and extend the flame to engulf the safety valve thermocouple. The SVT is a metal tube that is located near the pilot light. If the pilot light does not extend the flame and it is clean, then the thermostat has most likely failed and needs to be replaced.

  4. Move the SVT closer to the pilot light if the flame extends over the SVT and the oven will not light. If the SVT is contacting the extended flame and the burner still will not light, then the SVT needs to be replaced.

  5. Replace any parts as required. Reassemble the oven. Turn up the thermostat to verify that the oven is working properly.


  • If there is smell of gas in your home, turn off the main gas valve and ventilate the area before attempting any troubleshooting.