Easy Ways to Re-Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

When you step into the shower, you expect the water to get nice and hot fast. If an ice-cold shower greets you instead, you know something’s wrong. The typical offender behind this uncomfortable, harsh surprise is a water heater pilot light that’s gone out.

Don’t worry—relighting your pilot doesn’t require specialized skills. Follow the quick, step-by-step process from the pros at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing listed below, and you’ll soon be back to enjoying those hot showers.

Tips on How to Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

First, read the user’s manual that goes with your water heater model. Instructions vary, and you should find the information 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 pull up a digital version. However, the following steps should apply for many gas water heaters:

  1. Look for the gas shut-off valve, which typically is distinctly marked on the lower front part of your water heater. Move 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 normally located below the gas valve. Sometimes, there isn’t a door; instead, you may see the pilot light burner by peering into a small opening.
  3. Get a flashlight or headlamp. Next, peer into the pilot light access and look for two small gas tubes leading to the burner. Keep an eye on this part of your water heater as you go ahead 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 specific 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. Your water heater might have an igniter button, typically red or black. If not, you’ll need a long lighter to light the pilot by hand.
  6. Press down the gas knob or button for approximately 30 to 60 seconds after the flame ignites. Be certain 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 reheat the water, and you’ll be all set to enjoy that hot shower!

What if {the Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit?

Needing to relight the pilot from time to time is not a cause for concern. Unfortunately, there could be a bigger underlying issue if the water heater pilot light will not stay lit. Some common factors that cause this problem are:

  • Faulty thermocouple: The thermocouple is an automatic safety shut-off, shutting off gas flow when the pilot light is not lit. If this element is misaligned, dirty or damaged, you may face frequent pilot light challenges. Wiggle the thermocouple just a tiny bit and try lighting the pilot a second time. If that doesn’t work, you could possibly need to clean it. And if that proves fruitless, it might 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 likely due to a dirty pilot opening. This can restrict the thermocouple’s performance, leading to pilot light instability.
  • Weak or malfunctioning gas regulator: Problems 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, check the regulator.
  • Drafty conditions: Water heaters commonly share a utility closet with the furnace, which needs fresh air to function properly. Strong drafts from this air intake can extinguish the 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., don’t hesitate to call Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Our ACE-certified technicians provide fast, effective 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 fix it. We are leaders in innovation and customer support, with strong community involvement that demonstrates our commitment to your comfort. Call 866-397-3787 today to reach the trained 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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