How to Re-Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

When you walk into the shower, you expect the water to get nice and hot very quickly. If an ice-cold shower greets you instead, you know something’s amiss. The typical offender behind this unpleasant, cold surprise is a water heater pilot light that’s gone out.

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

Ways You Can Easily Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

First, read the user’s manual that goes with your water heater model. Instructions differ from brand to brand, and you should find the information you need in the manual. If you’ve misplaced the printed copy that came with the unit, look up the model number online to pull up a digital version. Nevertheless, the following strategies should apply for the majority of gas water heaters:

  1. Look for the gas shut-off valve, which you’ll usually find 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 positioned under the gas valve. Occasionally, there isn’t a door; instead, you may see the pilot light burner if you look in a small opening.
  3. Get a flashlight or headlamp. Then, peer into the pilot light access and locate two small gas tubes leading to the burner. Keep an eye on this spot as you go ahead with lighting the water heater pilot.
  4. Switch the gas knob to “Pilot.” This move 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 might have an igniter button, frequently red or black. If your water heater does not, you’ll need a long lighter to light the pilot by hand.
  6. Hold down the gas knob or button for about 30 to 60 seconds after the flame catches. Be certain 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 roars back to life.
  8. Replace the access cover or door. Give your water heater about 20 to 60 minutes to warm the water, and you’ll be all set to enjoy that hot shower!

My Home’s 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 serious underlying issue if the water heater pilot light won’t stay lit. Some typical reasons behind this issue are:

  • Dirty thermocouple: The thermocouple is an automatic safety shut-off, preventing gas flow when the pilot light is out. If this element is misaligned, dirty or damaged, you may face frequent pilot light problems. Move the thermocouple just a tiny bit and try lighting the pilot again. If that doesn’t work, you might need to clean it. And if that proves fruitless, it could 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 hinder the thermocouple’s functioning, and cause pilot light instability.
  • Weak or faulty gas regulator: Trouble with this component may lead to an inadequate gas supply needed to maintain the pilot light. If multiple gas appliances in your residence have similar issues, check the regulator.
  • Gusty conditions: Water heaters commonly share a utility closet with the furnace, which requires fresh air to function properly. Strong drafts from this air intake can blow out the 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 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, reliable solutions to all your comfort woes. Everything we do is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not pleased with our efforts, we’ll work to make it right. We are leaders in innovation and customer engagement, with rich community involvement that shows our commitment to your comfort. Call 866-397-3787 today to reach the skilled staff at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. We’re ready to make a major difference in your life, one hot shower at a time. 

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