Easy Ways 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 an icy blast greets you instead, you know something’s not right. The typical root cause behind this nasty, chilly 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 plan from the pros at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing outlined below, and you’ll soon be back to delighting in those hot showers.

Steps 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 see everything you need in the manual. If you’ve misplaced the original 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. Look for the gas shut-off valve, which typically is clearly 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 residual gas to dissipate.
  2. Open the pilot light access cover or door, which is usually located under the gas valve. On occasion, 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. Next, peer into the pilot light access and look for two small gas tubes leading to the burner. Observe this part of your water heater as you proceed with lighting the water heater pilot.
  4. Switch 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. Ignite the pilot light while still holding down the gas knob or button. The water heater may have an igniter button, frequently red or black. If your water heater does not, you’ll need a long lighter to light the pilot physically.
  6. Press down the gas knob or button for approximately 30 to 60 seconds after the flame sparks. Make sure the flame remains lit. 
  7. Switch 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. Put the access cover or door back on. Give your water heater approximately 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 severe underlying issue if the water heater pilot light won’t stay lit. Some common factors that cause this problem are:

  • Dirty thermocouple: The thermocouple is an automatic safety shut-off, shutting off gas flow when the pilot light is out. If this element is misaligned, dirty or damaged, you may face frequent pilot light challenges. Wiggle the thermocouple slightly and try lighting the pilot again. If that doesn’t get the job done, you may need to clean it. And if that proves fruitless, it may be necessary to replace the thermocouple, a very basic task for a trained technician.
  • Dirty pilot opening: If your pilot light has a yellow flame, it’s very likely due to a dirty pilot opening. This can inhibit the thermocouple’s operation, causing pilot light instability.
  • Weak or malfunctioning gas regulator: Trouble with this component could lead to an inadequate gas supply needed to maintain the pilot light. If more than one of the gas appliances in your residence have similar problems, take a look at the regulator.
  • Drafty conditions: Water heaters often share a utility closet with the furnace, which demands fresh air to work properly. Strong drafts from this air intake can snuff 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 problems with your water heater pilot light in the U.S., contact Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Our ACE-certified technicians provide fast, helpful solutions to all your comfort worries. Everything we do is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not thrilled with our efforts, we’ll work to resolve it. We are leaders in innovation and customer service, with rich community involvement that is a sign of our commitment to your comfort. Call 866-397-3787 today to reach the qualified staff at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. We’re standing by to make a major difference in your life, one hot shower at a time. 

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