It is once again time for that "how to light the pilot light on my in-wall heater" video

Originally published at: It is once again time for that "how to light the pilot light on my in-wall heater" video | Boing Boing


We had an in-wall gas heater in a house built in the early 1950s. In the early aughts, a family that lived a few miles away who also had an in-wall heater never woke up the next morning after their unit malfunctioned and flooded the home with carbon monoxide. We got rid of ours after that, especially with our first baby on the way.

Last month, we finally got CO detectors installed in our place.


Update your heater. It’ll be more fuel efficient and safer on multiple levels. The newer ones will not require you to turn on a pilot light. I work for a gas company, can’t stress enough updating old gas appliances if they’re older than 10-15 years… but if for whatever reason you want to keep it please have a professional/company service it to make sure everything looks good (especially the hoses and fittings) and do a furnace/heater tune up. You’ll want to do the same with water heaters on occasion

Also second a CO detector if you don’t have one already.

PS: If its an in-wall heater and its pretty old there’s actually a chance it’s not set up to vent to the outside sooo… yeah. Be careful with old gas appliances.


Was gonna say. I haven’t seen a gas appliance with a standing pilot in ages. Oldest gas appliance was the furnace in our last house that we moved into in 2000 and the furnace was at least 5 years old then. Cheap builder model Luxaire and it had an electronic pilot. I guess I can potentially see an unpowered/basic gas water heater, but I imagine those are slowly going away and powered/power vent options often come with electronic pilots like my example above. Stoves/ranges also are almost universally electronic pilot now.

Seems to me if you’re living in a more ‘environmentally conscious’ area such as Los Angeles/California, standing pilot appliances would have been an easy low hanging fruit to update. Standing pilots to me seem to be very inefficient. They put off a not insignificant amount of heat just sitting there doing nothing. And they’re generally paired with more inefficient appliances to boot.


It’s probably been 5 or 10 years, but I lived in multiple apartments in Los Angeles with a very similar style wall heater. Being a newbie to gas when I first moved there (and most of the labeling had soot marks or flaked away) the city was incredibly responsive the two or three times I called. Once may have been to light the pilot for a heater and another was an issue with the pilot on the range/oven. I was surprised they had someone at my door that night. It makes sense with people keeping themselves warm and the dangers of a gas leak–it’s just so rare to see.

My water heater is 6 years old and it has a standing pilot. There is no power outlet, nothing to plug into inside the closet in the garage where it lives, so I’m not sure how we could have an electronic pilot without a power source. What would we use, something with maybe a 9v battery? I’m sincerely curious.

Pilot lights do put out heat but they also don’t burn much gas, either. I’m thinking that leaks in the natural gas lines along the way from source to appliance would be a bigger concern about climate change than a small flame. If anything, California is going the route of electrification, so that would make all this moot (and force me to install electrical power in that closet!).

1 Like

A good gas utility will be there even at 2am in a storm to take care of any potential gas leaks. Not every company is great but that’s the standard however. If you ever have any issues with gas that could be an emergency and you’re not 100% sure what to do call the gas company’s CS (dispatch would be better if you can find the number as they handle emergencies).

And Rob, i would recommend talking to a trusted company and get their opinion, you don’t have to commit to having any work done but they should be able to give you a few options on how to resolve your issue with getting power to the WH closet. I’m a project manager so i can’t really have the knowledge to give guidance.


Are they? I haven’t done a deep comparison of the two, but small electric heaters would often cost more than heating the whole apartment in the places I’ve lived.

I also liked having gas for the range, water heater, and dryer.

Mrs Pinnet: And they’d come round this afternoon?

First Gas Man: Well what is it now… 11:30… murder… they’ll be round here by two.

They are, starting with cities, and the state is also mulling it over. The problem isn’t so much the CO2 produced when burning it, but the crazy amount of CH4 that leaks during the production and distribution processes. Methane is a 30 times more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

You’re right that it’s cheaper, in terms of money, to run a gas furnace than even small electric heaters, no doubt that’s true today.

Getting power to it wouldn’t be a daunting task. My data closet has plenty of power and is right next to the WH closet. I was just looking to confirm that you do need power in order to get rid of the pilot light.

1 Like

I would presume it’s a correct assumption that you’d need to power it, can’t say if you can do so with a battery or if it needs to be wired.

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.