Lighting up a gas wall heater can be a bit of challenge, mainly if you have never used one before.

But with a bit of care and precaution, followed by a fair set of steps, this can be easy.

Firstly, start off by removing the cover from the gas heater. It should ideally pop off, but if it’s fixed with screws, this might take a bit of work to get them removed and then pulling of the sheet.

Light a gas wall space heater with a long match or lighter

There are other heaters where the cover is attached with a latch, so it is straightforward to pull the door out.

This would expose the central system via which the system operates.

How Do You Light a Pilot on a Gas Wall Heater?

Many modern-day systems come up with an automatic electric lighter, but in case you don’t have one, this shouldn’t be a big issue.

You may use a regular long barreled stove lighter, or even a long matchstick to help you with this.

One of the major challenges should be figuring out the gas pipeline, and how finding out its duct where the gas gets vented out.

The rest of the processes should be straightforward.

Steps To Power On Gas Wall Heater

  • Start off by turning the gas knob on. If it was already on for a long time, turn it off, open up all the doors and windows for the gas to escape, and then turn it on again after at least a couple of hours.
  • This is because the mechanism might have already leaked out a lot of methane/ propylene gas which can be dangerous when exposed to naked flames.
  • Now that you have turned on the gas, find the tube that supplies the light. This should be ideally a hollow tube, not more than a quarter of an inch wide, which originally extends from the main valve and extends upwards.
  • Sneaking in with the help of a flashlight, you may be able to locate the orifice which Is behind the metal plate with an inspection hole in it.
  • Next, pinch and twist the control valve to “pilot,” and line it up with a marker outside the casing.
  • Now light up a matchstick and press the button next to the control knob and keep it pressed. You might notice a slight hissing sound while the button is pressed.
  • This indicates a smooth flow of gas through the tube. Put the match stick or lighter on the top of the gas tube orifice.
  • When the pilot lights up, put off the matchstick or lighter, but keep the button pressed for at least 30 seconds to one minute to ensure that the thermocouple has heated up.
  • To ensure that the thermocouple has finally heated up, gradually release the pressure from the top of the button.
  • The flame should be lit even after you have removed pressure from the top of the button.
  • In case it doesn’t. Light up the matchstick again, press the button, and repeat the process all over again – but this time, keep the button pushed for a bit longer.

When the pilot is finally lit up, adjust the temperature knob – from low to very high, and twist the control knob from “pilot” to “on” position.

Finally, replace the cover and close the door, and screw it, if needed.

That’s it! You are all set to enjoy the warmer temperature during summers. While this may seem complicated in the beginning, you would eventually get a hold of it.

Here is a video guide from “hoohoohoblin”

Types Of Gas Heaters And Procedures

There are other versions of gas wall heaters as well, which are not too complicated.

The only thing you need to do is to switch on the gas knob and light up the pilot tube.

Open the door of the heater to expose the burner. For some heaters, you may have to completely remove the cover to have access to the burner.

If you haven’t made a purchase yet, this can be a good bet to invest in. With ease and convenience, they also come up with the possibility of heating up the system quickly.

Function Of Pilot In Gas Wall Heaters

It’s mainly the pilot that drives the whole system. You light up the pilot to help it light up the burner.

When the gas is turned on, the valve releases gas into the burner which ultimately lights up the stove.

However, the pilot does create a small safety problem. If the pilot keeps on delivering gas to the vent but doesn’t light up, this would lead to gas getting collected inside the chamber which would ultimately lead to an explosion.

To overcome this problem, the pilot light tube has a valve that manages the flow of gas. It does this through the presence of thermocouple, situated just outside the pilot flame tube.

Without even consuming electricity, they generate their own source of power by heat.

In fact, they make use of the electrical effect which is created at the junction of two different metals.

In a pilot light, one of the junctions of the metal is kept open as a result of the electromagnetic energy which is created at the intersection.

When the flame blows out, the thermocouple cools off quickly stopping the generation of electricity and ultimately leading to the closure of the gas valve.

To light up the pilot flame again, you must push the button that opens the gas supply manually.

As soon as the flame is lit, the thermocouple heats up gradually as well (taking about 30 seconds to one minute).

Once the thermocouple is hot enough, it has produced enough electricity to keep it open. This is where you can let go of the button.

However, the gas wall heater has its own set of advantages and disadvantages:

While gas wall heaters can be decent in terms of heating up a small to a medium sized room, they are impractical for rooms of larger size and space.

They can be relatively cheaper to operate, especially if the natural gas is in abundance in your state/ country and it comes cheap.

However, the problem, however, is that the pilot leads to a lot of gas wastage, leading to a release of a lot of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane, which can be fatal for you as well as the environment. Therefore, the latest gas all heaters don’t have a pilot light. They make use of the piezoelectric spark to light up the burner and keep it running.

Besides, gas wall heaters are not as clean as much as their electrical counterparts. Moreover, the maintenance can be a bit frequent and costly as well. Gas heaters attract a lot of pollutants and residue, which though can be a bane to clean.

Though it’s rare for the gas wall heater to malfunction, however, under most circumstances, it’s the pilot that doesn’t seem to work, and that’s what can be an issue.

The second most prevalent issue is that of thermostats and fixing them might require the assistance of a technician or an expert.

Modern gas wall heaters have somehow overcome this issue with the introduction of better ignitors that helps to induce the flame and ignite the burner.

You may find gas wall heaters with a small thermostat which can adjust the temperature automatically depending on how hot or cold it is outside. There are also vent free heaters that burn more efficiently than the vented ones, but they aren’t recommended for residential use since they release toxic gases.

Troubleshooting Common Gas Wall Heaters When Lighting Them Up

However, if you are facing issues such as problems with lighting up the pilot, you need to make the following checks:

Check the Gas Line

If you are using a propane-based heater, check the tank if there’s enough gas inside. In case you are using a natural gas heater, check the connections properly.

Try lighting up the heater and notice if you can listen to a slight hissing sound and smell of a propane or natural gas in the air. If you are sure that the supply of gas is smooth, check there’s a possibility that the pilot aperture may be blocked. To clear the line, reach the combustion chamber and poke a needle into the opening.

Alternatively, you can disassemble the pilot tube and clear the compressed air. If this sounds complicated to you, seek some assistance from a professional or a technician.

Flickering Light

The pilot won’t light up or heat up if the flames continuously flicker. This can be an indication that there are a few blockages in the pilot tube. This may also be because of the faults within the thermocouple.

This may be fixed by pushing the heat sensor closer to the pilot so that it signals the gas valve to stay open and deliver a seamless supply of gas. However, if it doesn’t solve the problem, your thermocouple may need to be changed.

Lighting up the Heater

There can be instances when the heater won’t just light up even though the pilot is lit. This can be a result of a faulty thermostat, which doesn’t indicate the accurate temperature. You can check it by turning the dial all the way to “very hot” and check whether this does the trick.

If this doesn’t help, one of the wires leading towards the thermostat may have tripped. If that doesn’t work as well, this can be an indication that there are issues with the gas valve. You might want to hire a professional or a technician to do the job for you.

A Heater That Flicks

If the heater turns on and off too often, this might not be a good sign. This may be because of the blockages around the gas wall heater, such as plants or furniture, which don’t allow enough air to flow through. It can also be a result of thermostat or switch issues.

Heater Fan Turns On, But Not The Heating Element

This can be a clear indication of some wire breaking apart within the heating system. You might want to check the wirings inside by cutting off the cord, removing the thermostat knob, and then removing the unit from the wall. Check the wires carefully to check whether they are well connected. Tighten the cables that are connected to the heater. If this doesn’t help, you’ll probably need to install a new heating element.

The Heater Keeps On Running & Doesn’t Shut Off

This is a common issue faced by those who have rooms too big for the heater. Poorly insulated rooms can worsen the problem further. If the room is too big, you might want to consider getting a bigger and more powerful heater for your room. Alternatively, you can consider adding in weather stripping to the doors and windows. Also, add in a layer of insulation to the external walls and doors.

Burning Smells

This is usually an indication that your heater is dirty and needs a bit of attention. While this is not a very serious issue as your heater can gain dirt from external sources, and the burning smell that you can sense is usually that of the dirt particles burning up in the first phase, particularly in cases when the heater is occasionally used or on a seasonal basis.

However, if the smell doesn’t dissipate after a while, then it may be time to check out on your technician, as prolonged burning smells can lead to something as worse as a fire or burn out the heating elements prematurely. If you haven’t used your gas wall heater for a while, cut off the power supply, open the heater up and vacuum the dirt, debris, hair, and lint that have coagulated on the heating element.


Gas Wall Heaters have been around for a while and may remain around for at least a decade or two. They may get better in terms of efficiency and quality, but they would be around for a while. It’s essential that you learn to light up the heater and to manage it well by your own. The weather can be unpredictable and ruin your day anytime.

With the above-mentioned set of steps, you can not only light up a gas wall heater quite conveniently, but you can also manage and maintain your gas wall heater at any time, without even bothering to call a technician during the inclement weather.