Water Heater Pilot Light

Problems and Troubleshoot

Water heater pilot light ignites the gas coming into your tank that then heats the water giving you your hot water supply around the house. If the pilot light stops then you will not have any hot water. Sometimes more serious problems can arrive from problematic pilot lights and could be a problem with your thermocouple. Typically in modern efficient water heater units you have electronic ignition and with standard gas water heaters you have basic ignition. What ever the water heater you have this article will guide you resolve your pilot light on water heater to solve your problems.
This will save you anywhere from $100 too $150 as plumbers like to replace the thermocouple even when not necessary. This is not a difficult job either but re-lighting can will only take 10 mins of your time.

  • Types of Pilot Lights
  • Follow the Instructions
  • Lighting the ignite correctly
  • Manual Pilot light Lighting
  • Other issues

Types Of Water Heater Pilot Lights

There are two types of pilot lights find out what your type is to correctly relight your pilot light
Older styles that require match lighting usually have access panels at the bottom of the water tank.

Older styles that require match lighting

New modern sealed burners that have a push spark button.
Gas water heaters depend on a thermocouple this senses when the pilot light is on or off so when the thermocouple is not working you will have problems igniting the water heater. If your pilot light will not stay on then is an indication you have a malfunctioning thermocouple.

New modern sealed burners

Follow the Instructions on your water heater
Water heaters are usually labeled with instructions on how to light a water heater as all water heater are different each process will be slightly different from another make a model. This is typically stuck to the side of the tank look for it and make sure you understand it they are there for safety reasons. The major difference is the waiting times needed to wait in-between each process. If you cannot re light the pilot light with the recommended manufacture process then you can read our other steps below.

How To Light A Water Heater

How to light a Modern Water Heater Pilot light

  • The first thing is to turn the temperature setting to its lowest position and then turn the gas valve off. Wait about 10 minutes, as there may be some lingering gas you will need to use a water heater pilot light ignite for the next step.
  • Remove the outer cover from the burner unit you will see a small glass window that will let you see the pilot light.
  • Lighting instructions are different on every water heater again make sure you read how its done and follow the steps as they have stated on your heater as these are the recommended settings on how to light a hot water heater.
  • You will then need to set the on-off control to pilot setting.
  • Hold down the pilot button and then press the spark generator you should hear a click then keep the pilot button held for a further 20 seconds to insure the pilot is fully lit.
  • Watch through the glass and ensure the pilot remains lit then you can turn the gas valve back on. You can then set the thermostat to the temperature you need.

How to Light an Older Water Heater Pilot light

  • Again Insure your temperature is set to its lowest heat setting once done turn the gas valve to Off position and wait for at least 10 minutes for any excess gas to empty.
  • Remove the cover from the burner and with a small flashlight to see your burner and with a long match or grill lighter try to reach to the center.
  • You will then need to follow the manufactures instructions to correctly re light the pilot light.
  • Usually the when re-lighting the pilot you will need to hold down the red button (water heater pilot button) for as long as stated in the instructions. Keep looking at the pilot light until it has been fully light.
  • Again wait some time and ensure that the pilot light does not turn off and turn back you gas valve on. And reset your temperature thermostat.

Other Pilot Light Water Heater Issues

If you have continuous issues with your pilot light turning off then you more than likely have a problem with the thermocouple it could be corroded or just needs to be replaced.

You can perform some general maintenance on the thermocouple with a soft wire brush even an old tooth-brush will do the job give it a soft clean over and then re-try to light the pilot light water heater. Remember that if your pilot does not stay on consistently then you do have issues with you thermocouple or check you do not have a draft in the attic or garage as even a light draft can put the water heater pilot light out. Other reason you can check it your pilot orifice can be clogged or the water heater gas valve is damaged.

Image credits and thanks to Daniel Robbins
Modern Burner Image
Old Burner Image

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