Easy Ways to Re-Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

When you walk into the shower, you know the water will get nice and hot within a few seconds. If an ice-cold rain greets you instead, you know something’s not right. The typical culprit behind this uncomfortable, 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 quick, 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

To start out, read the user’s manual specific to your water heater model. Instructions differ from brand to brand, and you should see the information you need in the manual. If you can’t find the paper copy that came with the water heater, look up the model number online to find a digital version. Nevertheless, the following strategies should apply for many 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 let any lingering gas to dissipate.
  2. Open the pilot light access cover or door, which is commonly located under 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. Arm yourself with a flashlight or headlamp. Next, peer into the pilot light access and locate two small gas tubes leading to the burner. Monitor this spot as you continue with lighting the water heater pilot.
  4. Turn the gas knob to “Pilot.” This action lets the gas flow, preparing the pilot light for ignition. Some units have a designated red button for pilot mode, which you should press and hold.
  5. Light the pilot light while still holding down the gas knob or button. The water heater could have an igniter button, often red or black. If not, you’ll need a long lighter to light the pilot by hand.
  6. Hold down the gas knob or button for approximately 30 to 60 seconds after the flame catches. Be certain the flame stays lit. 
  7. Switch the gas knob to “On.” You should hear a whump or whoosh sound as the main burner fires up and your water heater roars back to life.
  8. Replace the access cover or door. Give your water heater roughly 20 to 60 minutes to warm the water, and you’ll be able to enjoy that hot shower!

a Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit?

Needing to relight the pilot every now and then isn’t a cause for concern. But, there could be a more serious underlying issue if the water heater pilot light refuses to stay lit. Some common factors that cause this problem are:

  • Dirty thermocouple: The thermocouple is an automatic safety shut-off, preventing gas flow when the pilot light is not lit. If this element is misaligned, dirty or damaged, you may face frequent pilot light challenges. Reposition the thermocouple just a tiny bit and try lighting the pilot again. If that doesn’t work, you may need to clean it. And if that proves ineffective, it might be necessary to replace the thermocouple, an easy task for a licensed technician.
  • Dirty pilot opening: If your pilot light produces a yellow flame, it’s likely due to a dirty pilot opening. This can inhibit the thermocouple’s performance, causing pilot light instability.
  • Weak or defective gas regulator: Trouble with this component may lead to an inadequate gas supply needed to maintain the pilot light. If several gas appliances in your residence have similar problems, examine the regulator.
  • Drafty conditions: Water heaters commonly share a utility closet with the furnace, which needs fresh air to work properly. Strong drafts from this air intake can blow out 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 difficulty 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, effective remedies to all your comfort worries. Everything we do is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not thrilled with our work, we’ll work to fix it. We are leaders in innovation and customer support, with rich community involvement that demonstrates 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 meaningful difference in your life, one hot shower at a time. 

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