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How to Light RV Furnace

If you’re an avid traveler or an outdoor enthusiast who loves camping in an RV, you know how crucial a properly functioning furnace is.

The RV furnace provides warmth and comfort during chilly nights, ensuring you can enjoy your adventures all year round.

However, if you’re new to RVing or have recently upgraded your vehicle, you might be wondering how to light your RV furnace effectively.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of lighting your RV furnace safely and efficiently.

Let’s dive in!

Understanding Your RV Furnace

Before diving into the process of lighting your RV furnace, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how it works.

An RV furnace is typically powered by propane gas and operates on a forced-air system.

It consists of a control panel, a burner, a blower motor, and a heat exchanger.

The control panel allows you to regulate the temperature and control the furnace’s functions.

Preparation: Safety First

Before attempting to light your RV furnace, prioritize safety precautions to ensure a smooth and risk-free process.

Here are some essential safety measures to follow:

  1. Turn off all appliances: Make sure all appliances, including the furnace itself, are turned off before starting the lighting process. This eliminates the risk of gas leaks and potential accidents.
  2. Ensure proper ventilation: Open windows or vents to ensure proper airflow and ventilation while handling the furnace.
  3. Check for gas leaks: Perform a thorough check for gas leaks by using a gas leak detector or applying a soapy water solution to the gas connections. If you detect any leaks, immediately turn off the gas supply and consult a professional.
  4. Have a fire extinguisher nearby: Keep a fully functional fire extinguisher within reach in case of emergencies.

By following these safety guidelines, you can minimize the risks associated with lighting your RV furnace.

Locating the Furnace and Accessing the Control Panel

The first step in lighting your RV furnace is locating the unit and accessing the control panel.

The furnace is typically installed in a dedicated compartment or cabinet, commonly found in the interior of the RV.

The control panel, which houses the pilot light and other controls, is usually accessible from the outside of the RV or through a removable panel inside.

To locate and access your RV furnace:

  1. Consult the owner’s manual: Refer to your RV’s owner’s manual for specific instructions on locating the furnace and accessing the control panel. The manual will provide detailed information tailored to your RV’s make and model.
  2. Inspect exterior compartments: If your RV has exterior compartments, check for any labeled or marked compartments that may house the furnace.
  3. Remove interior access panel: If the furnace is located inside the RV, remove the access panel by unscrewing the fasteners or releasing the latches. Keep the screws or latches in a safe place to avoid misplacement.

Checking the Furnace for Dust and Debris

Before lighting the pilot light, it’s essential to ensure that the furnace is free from dust and debris.

Over time, dust particles and debris can accumulate on the burner and affect the furnace’s performance.

Here’s how you can clean the furnace:

  1. Turn off the furnace: Locate the furnace’s power switch and turn it off. This will prevent any accidental ignition while you’re cleaning.
  2. Inspect the burner: Carefully examine the burner for any visible dust or debris. If you notice significant buildup, it’s recommended to clean it before proceeding.
  3. Clean the burner: Use a soft brush or compressed air to gently remove the dust and debris from the burner. Ensure that the burner is completely clean and free from obstructions.

Cleaning the furnace ensures optimal performance and reduces the risk of malfunctions.

Inspecting the Gas Supply

Before attempting to light the furnace, it’s crucial to inspect the gas supply and ensure it’s functioning properly.

Follow these steps to inspect the gas supply:

  1. Check the propane tank: Ensure that the propane tank is turned on and has sufficient fuel. If the tank is empty or low, refill or replace it before proceeding.
  2. Inspect the gas lines: Examine the gas lines for any visible damage or leaks. If you notice any cracks, holes, or leaks, it’s essential to repair or replace the affected parts.

A properly functioning gas supply is essential for the safe and efficient operation of your RV furnace.

Lighting the RV Furnace Pilot Light

Now that you’ve completed the necessary preparations and inspections, it’s time to light your RV furnace’s pilot light.

Follow these steps carefully:

  1. Locate the pilot light: The pilot light is typically located near the burner assembly inside the furnace. Refer to your owner’s manual for the precise location.
  2. Set the control panel: Locate the control panel on the furnace and set it to the “Off” or “Pilot” position.
  3. Depress the gas control knob: While pressing the gas control knob, turn it to the “Pilot” position. Keep the knob depressed to allow gas to flow to the pilot light.
  4. Ignite the pilot light: Use a long lighter or match to ignite the pilot light while holding the gas control knob down. Once the pilot light ignites, continue holding the knob for about 30 seconds to allow the thermocouple to heat up.
  5. Release the gas control knob: After 30 seconds, release the gas control knob. The pilot light should remain lit. If it goes out, repeat the process, ensuring that the thermocouple is heated adequately.
  6. Set the control panel to “On”: Once the pilot light is lit and stable, set the control panel to the “On” position. This will activate the main burner, providing warm air throughout your RV.


You have successfully lit your RV furnace and can now enjoy a cozy and comfortable environment while on your adventures.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

While lighting your RV furnace, you may encounter certain issues that can hinder the process.

Here are some common problems and their possible solutions:

  1. Pilot light won’t stay lit: If the pilot light keeps going out, it may indicate a faulty thermocouple. Try cleaning the thermocouple with a soft brush or replace it if necessary.
  2. Weak or no heat output: Inspect the air filters and clean or replace them if clogged. Additionally, ensure that the gas supply is sufficient and the burner is clean.
  3. Unusual noises or vibrations: Noises or vibrations could indicate a mechanical issue or loose components. Contact a professional to inspect and service the furnace.

If you encounter more complex issues or are unsure about troubleshooting, it’s best to seek professional assistance to ensure the safety and functionality of your RV furnace.


Can I light my RV furnace without professional help?

Yes, lighting your RV furnace is a task you can do yourself. However, it’s crucial to follow proper safety precautions and refer to your RV’s owner’s manual for specific instructions.

How often should I clean and maintain my RV furnace?

Regular maintenance and cleaning are essential for the optimal performance of your RV furnace. It’s recommended to clean or inspect the furnace at least once a year or before each camping season. Consult your owner’s manual for detailed maintenance guidelines.

What should I do if the pilot light goes out frequently?

If the pilot light goes out frequently, it could indicate a problem with the thermocouple or gas supply. Try cleaning the thermocouple and inspecting the gas supply for leaks. If the issue persists, consult a professional.

Are there any safety precautions I should take while lighting my RV furnace?

Absolutely! Before lighting your RV furnace, make sure to turn off all appliances, check for gas leaks, ensure proper ventilation, and have a fire extinguisher nearby. These precautions will minimize the risks associated with handling propane gas.

Can I use alternative heating methods in my RV?

Yes, there are alternative heating methods available for RVs, such as electric heaters or portable propane heaters. However, it’s important to ensure the chosen method is safe and suitable for your specific RV.

How can I increase the energy efficiency of my RV furnace?

To increase the energy efficiency of your RV furnace, consider insulating your RV, sealing any drafts, and using thermal curtains or window coverings. Additionally, regular maintenance and cleaning will help ensure the furnace operates at its best.


Lighting your RV furnace doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

By following the steps outlined in this guide and prioritizing safety, you can light your RV furnace confidently and enjoy a warm and cozy space during your adventures.

Remember to consult your RV’s owner’s manual for specific instructions and seek professional assistance if you encounter any difficulties.

Stay warm and happy travels!