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How To Light Commercial Gas Appliances

First, a safety warning: If you smell gas and the appliances are turned off, or if you suspect there may be a gas leak, call the gas company and turn off the main gas shutoff valve to the facility. Do not turn on anything that creates a spark. That includes lighting and electric fans. Even something as small as switching on a light or fan could trigger an explosion, depending on the quantity of gas in the area. Ventilate the room if you can do so safely. 

When you need to light a pilot light it’s usually because you’ve just installed new gas appliances, a breeze blew the light out, or the thermocouple near the flame needs to be cleaned or replaced. 

Lighting gas appliances can be a bit unnerving, given the potential for even mild explosions – particularly if you’re new to the process. You can do it safely and efficiently, however, with a few simple steps. Instructions may vary slightly depending on the make and model of your appliance, but always make sure the room is well-ventilated but not drafty enough to blow out the pilot light. 

Commercial stoves tend to have separate pilot lights for each cooktop burner. They emit gas constantly. Therefore, relighting a pilot light is as simple as turning off all the burners, placing a lit match or lighter near each burner, and turning the burner on to the desired flame height.  

 CPG stoves, and possibly some others, have an added step.  That company instructs users to light the pilot light and then push and turn the burner valve 90 degrees counterclockwise, to ignite each burner. 

Lighting an oven pilot light is similar, although some have traditional pilot lights and others have electronic igniters. 

To light a CPG oven pilot light with an electronic igniter: 

  • Turn off the thermostat and wait five minutes to allow any gas to clear the area. 
  • For convection ovens, also turn off the fan. 
  • Behind the kick plate, find the red button on the gas safety valve. 
  • Press and hold this button while using your other hand to press the electronic ignition – often another, nearby red button. 
  • Repeat this process until the pilot lights and remains lit. 
  • If, after several attempts, the pilot refuses to light, continue holding the gas safety valve for about 30 seconds to expel any oxygen in the system and try again. 

To light an oven with a traditional pilot light, Southbend S series ranges instruct users to: 

  • Open the oven door and remove the oven bottom and fire plate to expose the pilot and burner. 
  • Open the kick panel below the oven door. 
  • Turn the safety valve to “Pilot” and depress the button the safety valve. 
  • Light the pilot light while depressing the button. Continue pressing for 30 seconds. 
  • The pilot light should remain lit. 
  • Turn the knob on the safety valve to the “On” position. 
  • Close the kick panel and replace the fire plate and oven bottom. 

To light gas fryers: 

  • Turn off the fryer. 
  • Turn the gas safety valve to “pilot.” 
  • Purge any oxygen from the line by depressing the safety valve for about 30 seconds. Allow any gas in the area to dissipate. 
  • Light the pilot light with a lighter or match. 
  • Turn the gas safety valve to “on.” 

For any gas appliance, if the pilot flame refuses to ignite after following these steps, something else may be wrong. Check to see whether there is sufficient gas pressure, the nozzle is blocked, the connection with the thermocouple is loose, the thermocouple is defective, or the gas control valve is malfunctioning. Those issues are fixed rather simply, often with cleaning or tightening, or by replacing the thermocouple or gas control valve. 

For more specific instructions or locations of the gas safety valve or the electronic ignition, check the appliance’s manual. Many are available at PartsTown