Steps to Re-Light Your Water Heater Pilot Light

When you get into the shower, you count on the water to get nice and hot within a few seconds. If an icy deluge greets you instead, you know something’s not right. The typical root cause behind this nasty, cold 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 outlined below, and you’ll soon be back to enjoying 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 will change depending on the model, and you should get all the details you need in the manual. If you’ve misplaced the original copy that came with the water heater, look up the model number online to find a digital version. Still, the following steps should apply for the majority of gas water heaters:

  1. Find the gas shut-off valve, which typically is plainly 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 commonly positioned below the gas valve. Sometimes, there isn’t a door; instead, you might see the pilot light burner through a small opening.
  3. Get a flashlight or headlamp. Next, peer into the pilot light access and find two small gas tubes leading to the burner. Observe this part of your water heater as you go ahead with lighting the water heater pilot.
  4. Move the gas knob to “Pilot.” This movement 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. The water heater might have an igniter button, frequently red or black. If it doesn’t, 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 ignites. Ensure the flame is staying lit. 
  7. Switch the gas knob to “On.” You should hear a whump or whoosh sound as the main burner ignites and your water heater roars back to life.
  8. Place the door or access cover back on the unit. Give your water heater approximately 20 to 60 minutes to reheat the water, and you’ll be able 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 severe underlying issue if the water heater pilot light will not 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 isn’t on. If this component is misaligned, dirty or damaged, you may face frequent pilot light issues. Reposition the thermocouple slightly and try lighting the pilot a second time. If that doesn’t get the job done, you might need to clean it. And if that proves fruitless, it might be necessary to replace the thermocouple, a very basic task for a professional 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, leading to pilot light instability.
  • Weak or faulty gas regulator: Issues 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, examine the regulator.
  • Drafty conditions: Water heaters commonly share a utility closet with the furnace, which demands fresh air to function properly. Powerful 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., reach out to Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Our ACE-certified technicians provide fast, reliable solutions to all your comfort worries. Everything we do is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not delighted with our efforts, we’ll work to resolve it. We are leaders in innovation and customer service, with rich community involvement that is a reflection of our commitment to your comfort. Call 866-397-3787 today to reach the qualified 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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