How to Re-Light Your Water Heater Pilot Light

When you step into the shower, you expect the water to get nice and hot very quickly. If a freezing rain greets you instead, you know something’s wrong. The typical reason behind this nasty, harsh surprise is a water heater pilot light that’s gone out.

Don’t worry—relighting the pilot doesn’t require a lot of training. Follow the easy, step-by-step process from the pros at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing outlined below, and you’ll soon be back to delighting in those hot showers.

Tips on How to Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

First things first, read the user’s manual specific to your water heater model. Instructions will change depending on the model, and you should get all the details you need in the manual. If you don’t have the paper copy that came with the water heater, look up the model number online to pull up a digital version. Still, the following strategies should apply for many gas water heaters:

  1. Look for the gas shut-off valve, which generally is distinctly marked on the lower front part of your water heater. Switch this knob to the “Off” position and wait for five to 10 minutes to allow any remaining gas to dissipate.
  2. Open the pilot light access cover or door, which is usually positioned beneath the gas valve. Sometimes, there isn’t a door; instead, you may see the pilot light burner by peering into a small opening.
  3. Find a flashlight or headlamp. After that, peer into the pilot light access and locate two small gas tubes leading to the burner. Observe this area as you go ahead with lighting the water heater pilot.
  4. Turn the gas knob to “Pilot.” This move lets the gas flow, readying the pilot light for ignition. Some units have a specified 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 could have an igniter button, often red or black. If your water heater does not, you’ll need a long lighter to light the pilot by hand.
  6. Push down the gas knob or button for about 30 to 60 seconds after the flame sparks. Make sure the flame remains lit. 
  7. Turn the gas knob to “On.” You should hear a whump or whoosh sound as the main burner ignites and your water heater sparks back to life.
  8. Put the access cover or door back on. Give your water heater about 20 to 60 minutes to reheat 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 from time to time is usually not a major cause for concern. However, there could be a more severe underlying issue if the water heater pilot light refuses to stay lit. Some common reasons behind this issue are:

  • Faulty thermocouple: The thermocouple is an automatic safety shut-off, stopping gas flow when the pilot light is not lit. If this component is misaligned, dirty or damaged, you may face frequent pilot light problems. Reposition the thermocouple a little bit and try lighting the pilot once more. If that doesn’t get the job done, you could possibly need to clean it. And if that proves unproductive, it might be necessary to replace the thermocouple, a simple task for a trained technician.
  • Dirty pilot opening: If your pilot light has a yellow flame, it’s likely due to a dirty pilot opening. This can restrict the thermocouple’s functioning, causing pilot light instability.
  • Weak or defective gas regulator: Trouble with this component could lead to an inadequate gas supply needed to maintain the pilot light. If multiple gas appliances in your home have similar challenges, take a look at the regulator.
  • Breezy conditions: Water heaters frequently share a utility closet with the furnace, which requires fresh air to work properly. Stiff drafts from this air intake can snuff out a water heater pilot light.

Congrats, Your Water Heater’s Pilot Light is Lit. Let Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing Keep it That Way!

If you’re still having problems with your water heater pilot light in the U.S., reach out to Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Our ACE-certified technicians provide fast, helpful cures to all your comfort woes. Everything we do is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not pleased with our work, we’ll work to fix it. We are leaders in innovation and customer support, with strong community involvement that is a reflection of our commitment to your comfort. Call 866-397-3787 today to reach the skilled staff at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Let us make a major difference in your life, one hot shower at a time. 

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