Easy Ways to Re-Light a Home 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, 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 strategies from the pros at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing laid out below, and you’ll soon be back to enjoying those hot showers.

Steps to Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

To start out, read the user’s manual that goes with your water heater model. Instructions will change depending on the model, and you should see the information you need in the manual. If you’ve misplaced the paper copy that came with the unit, look up the model number online to pull up a digital version. Still, the following actions should apply for many gas water heaters:

  1. Locate the gas shut-off valve, which generally is plainly 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 allow any lingering gas to dissipate.
  2. Open the pilot light access cover or door, which is usually found beneath the gas valve. On occasion, there isn’t a door; instead, you might see the pilot light burner by peering into 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. Watch this area as you continue with lighting the water heater pilot.
  4. Switch the gas knob to “Pilot.” This action lets the gas flow, readying 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. The water heater may have an igniter button, typically red or black. If it doesn’t, 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 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 ignites and your water heater comes 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 ready to enjoy that hot shower!

a Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit?

Needing to relight the pilot every once in a while isn’t a cause for concern. But, there could be a bigger underlying issue if the water heater pilot light will not stay lit. Some frequent reasons behind this issue are:

  • Faulty 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 again. If that doesn’t get the job done, you may need to clean it. And if that proves fruitless, it might be necessary to replace the thermocouple, an easy task for a licensed technician.
  • Dirty pilot opening: If your pilot light gives off a yellow flame, it’s probably due to a dirty pilot opening. This can restrict the thermocouple’s functioning, and cause pilot light instability.
  • Weak or faulty gas regulator: Trouble with this component might 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.
  • Breezy conditions: Water heaters commonly share a utility closet with the furnace, which demands fresh air to function properly. Stiff drafts from this air intake can extinguish your 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., don’t hesitate to call Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Our ACE-certified technicians provide fast, effective solutions to all your comfort troubles. 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 strong community involvement that is a reflection of our commitment to your comfort. Call 866-397-3787 today to reach the skilled 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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