Steps to Re-Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

When you step into the shower, you count on the water to get nice and hot very quickly. If an ice-cold blast greets you instead, you know something’s wrong. The typical culprit behind this nasty, chilly surprise is a water heater pilot light that’s gone out.

Don’t worry—relighting your pilot doesn’t require an engineering degree. Follow the simple, step-by-step plan from the pros at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing listed below, and you’ll soon be back to enjoying those hot showers.

Tips on How to Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

First, read the user’s manual that goes with your water heater model. Instructions will change depending on the model, and you should get everything you need in the manual. If you don’t have the printed copy that came with the installation, look up the model number online to find a digital version. Still, the following steps should apply for most gas water heaters:

  1. Locate the gas shut-off valve, which generally is distinctly marked on the lower front part of your water heater. Turn this knob to the “Off” position and wait for five to 10 minutes to enable any lingering gas to dissipate.
  2. Open the pilot light access cover or door, which is commonly located below the gas valve. Sometimes, there isn’t a door; instead, you may see the pilot light burner if you look in a small opening.
  3. Find a flashlight or headlamp. After that, peer into the pilot light access and find two small gas tubes leading to the burner. Keep an eye on this part of your water heater as you continue with lighting the water heater pilot.
  4. Switch the gas knob to “Pilot.” This movement lets the gas flow, preparing the pilot light for ignition. Some units have a specific red button for pilot mode, which you should press and hold.
  5. Ignite the pilot light while still holding down the gas knob or button. Your home’s water heater may have an igniter button, often red or black. If your water heater does not, you’ll need a long lighter to light the pilot physically.
  6. Push down the gas knob or button for about 30 to 60 seconds after the flame catches. Ensure the flame stays lit. 
  7. Rotate the gas knob to “On.” You should hear a whump or whoosh sound as the main burner lights and your water heater sparks back to life.
  8. Place the door or access cover back on the unit. Give your water heater approximately 20 to 60 minutes to heat the water, and you’ll be ready to enjoy that hot shower!

What if {the Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit?

Needing to relight the pilot every now and then is not a cause for concern. But, there could be a more severe underlying issue if the water heater pilot light refuses to stay lit. Some frequent reasons behind this issue are:

  • Faulty thermocouple: The thermocouple is an automatic safety shut-off, preventing gas flow when the pilot light is not lit. If this component is misaligned, dirty or damaged, you may face frequent pilot light challenges. Move the thermocouple just a tiny bit and try lighting the pilot once more. If that doesn’t do the trick, you may need to clean it. And if that proves ineffective, it may be necessary to replace the thermocouple, an easy task for a trained technician.
  • Dirty pilot opening: If your pilot light gives off a yellow flame, it’s very likely due to a dirty pilot opening. This can restrict the thermocouple’s performance, leading to pilot light instability.
  • Weak or defective gas regulator: Problems with this component might lead to an inadequate gas supply needed to maintain the pilot light. If several gas appliances in your dwelling have similar issues, take a look at the regulator.
  • Drafty conditions: Water heaters commonly share a utility closet with the furnace, which demands fresh air to work properly. Stiff drafts from this air intake can extinguish a water heater pilot light.

Got the Pilot Light Lit? Let Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing Keep it That Way!

If you’re still having issues with your water heater pilot light in the U.S., don’t hesitate to call Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Our ACE-certified technicians provide fast, helpful cures to all your comfort troubles. Everything we do is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not delighted with our services, we’ll work to resolve it. We are leaders in innovation and customer service, with rich community involvement that shows our commitment to your comfort. Call 866-397-3787 today to reach the professional staff at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Let us make a meaningful difference in your life, one hot shower at a time. 

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