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Restarting Furnace After Running Out of Propane-8 Easy Steps

On the odd occasion, your propane-powered furnace may fail to light after you have refilled propane (in the wake of running out of fuel) until you restart it.

If you’re not aware, this mostly occurs when there is still some air in the gas lines (restarting it helps discharge the air and it should turn on without problems once air is expelled).

If this is what you need to do to enjoy much-needed warmth again, learn how you should go about restarting furnace after running out of propane below (step-by-step).

Restarting furnace after running out of propane – how to restart a propane furnace (step-by-step instructions)

Restarting a propane furnace is one of most owners’ simplest and safest tasks.

Here is how to restart a propane furnace as soon as your tank has been refilled in seven incredibly easy steps:


Before you start, ensure there are no open flames.

In addition, check that your hands are dry- some parts, for example, the breaker, should never be touched with wet hands for obvious reasons.

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Restarting furnace after running out of propane – the steps

Step 1: Locate the breaker, then turn it off

Locate the breaker box for your heating system then turn the breaker off. To turn it off, simply flip the switch off. 

Step 2: Switch the power to the furnace off

Next, turn the furnace’s power button off as well.

Step 3: Access the unit’s pilot light 

Now you want to remove the panel that provides access to the pilot light. With that, you can easily gain access to this important part.

Keep in mind that for a couple of models, the panel is usually designed to be lifted before being removed. There are models where you need to slide the panel off of the furnace too. 

Step 4: Turn propane off 

Once you look inside, you should notice the propane furnace gas control valve. For a wall furnace, this may be a round knob that is found on top while it’s at the bottom (of the furnace) for floor furnaces (still a round knob).

To restart the furnace, the first step is to turn it off (you want the control to be at “Off” position). Wait 5 minutes or so for all the gas to fully dissipate.

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Step 5: Turn propane back on 

Turn propane gas back swiftly- please be quick to prevent propane from building up for longer (this is an important fire safety precaution).

Step 6: Re-ignite the pilot light (old furnaces)- skip if you own a newer model

Now set the pilot light alight again – here, you can use a barbecue lighter (Just grab the lighter and proceed to hold it there until the pilot light lights).

Don’t forget that this step applies to old furnaces only (Newer furnaces do not have pilot lights).

Quick Tip: Sometimes the pilot light may not stay lit after being re-ignited. Don’t panic if it happens to you. Try to ignite it one more time and check if it now stays lit.

Step 7: Turn the breaker back on

At this point, go back to the circuit breaker panel, then flip it “on” afresh.

Step 8: Turn the propane furnace on afresh

You should now proceed to turn your furnace back on via the power switch. Observe it for some minutes to confirm if everything is now in perfect order.

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Your final step is replacing the access panel, if satisfied. On the other hand, if your furnace still won’t do anything, it might indicate a bigger problem that requires a pro to analyze and repair.

Quick Tip: To reiterate, make sure the valve (at the tank) is open before you carry out the stated steps. Just double-check to be certain.

Restarting furnace after running out of propane -alternative approach

Before you call a technician, there is another approach that is worth a try. This should also be considered by those who feel that the previous procedure is a bit complicated.

It is explained below:

Alternative method – Turning gas on a stove

Turning on a stove is the alternative that often works to fill your empty gas lines.

Here is the procedure:

Step 1: Shut off the gas

Close off the gas valve at the propane tank

Step 2: Light a stove

Turn on one stove burner then light it.

Step 3: Let the stove burn for a minute (or so)

Leave the burner to burn for about one minute (waiting for a minute helps clear any air and residual propane out of the gas lines).

Step 4: Open the gas valve and try to start the furnace once more

Next, very slowly open the gas valve on your propane tank then try to restart the furnace again.

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Quick Tip:

Don’t give up if it doesn’t restart successfully after your first attempt. Repeat the process (and keep trying) as it can take several attempts to purge the lines completely.

Bonus tip

Even as you attempt either of the two options, it is good to take into account that you don’t always have to do a thing. To be frank, the furnace may eventually come on once gas starts flowing in the system properly.

Of course, this needs you to be patient enough to try the ignition sequence a number of times (typically, clearing the lines of the contaminated gas/air takes several ignition attempts). In short, don’t be surprised if the situation seems to resolve itself.

For the most part, one or two restarts will get your furnace to light just fine after recharging your propane furnace for cabins (the procedure gets propane back to your furnace) or switching tanks.

But the truth is there are times advanced troubleshooting is needed- it could be that there is another serious issue making your furnace not to come on after a refill. And so if these steps don’t quite work, it’s best to consult a heating contractor.

Go ahead and make that all-important call if you tried the outlined steps without success.

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