Steps to Re-Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

When you step into the shower, you expect the water to get nice and hot within a few seconds. If an icy blast greets you instead, you know something’s wrong. The typical culprit behind this unpleasant, chilly surprise is a water heater pilot light that’s gone out.

Don’t worry—relighting the pilot doesn’t require an engineering degree. Follow the simple, step-by-step process from the pros at Ӱ Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing outlined below, and you’ll soon be back to enjoying those hot showers.

Steps to Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

First things first, read the user’s manual specific to your water heater model. Instructions vary, and you should find everything you need in the manual. If you’ve misplaced the paper copy that came with the installation, look up the model number online to pull up a digital version. Still, the following steps should apply for most gas water heaters:

  1. Locate the gas shut-off valve, which you’ll usually find 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 let any lingering gas to dissipate.
  2. Open the pilot light access cover or door, which is usually located under the gas valve. Sometimes, there isn’t a door; instead, you might see the pilot light burner through a small opening.
  3. Arm yourself with a flashlight or headlamp. Then, peer into the pilot light access and find two small gas tubes leading to the burner. Keep an eye on this area as you proceed with lighting the water heater pilot.
  4. Turn 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. Your water heater might have an igniter button, often red or black. If not, you’ll need a long lighter to light the pilot manually.
  6. Hold down the gas knob or button for about 30 to 60 seconds after the flame catches. Ensure the flame remains lit. 
  7. Turn the gas knob to “On.” You should hear a whump or whoosh sound as the main burner fires up and your water heater sparks back to life.
  8. Replace the access cover or door. Give your water heater roughly 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 every once in a while is not a cause for concern. However, there could be a more serious underlying issue if the water heater pilot light refuses to stay lit. Some common causes of this are:

  • Damaged thermocouple: The thermocouple is an automatic safety shut-off, preventing gas flow when the pilot light is out. If this component is misaligned, dirty or damaged, you may face frequent pilot light issues. Move the thermocouple slightly and try lighting the pilot again. If that doesn’t work, you may need to clean it. And if that proves fruitless, it might be necessary to replace the thermocouple, a simple task for a licensed technician.
  • Dirty pilot opening: If your pilot light gives off a yellow flame, it’s likely due to a dirty pilot opening. This can inhibit the thermocouple’s functioning, leading to pilot light instability.
  • Weak or faulty gas regulator: Problems with this component might lead to an inadequate gas supply needed to maintain the pilot light. If multiple gas appliances in your home have similar issues, check the regulator.
  • Drafty conditions: Water heaters often share a utility closet with the furnace, which requires fresh air to function properly. Strong drafts from this air intake can extinguish the pilot light.

Got the Pilot Light Lit? Let Ӱ Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing Keep it That Way!

If you’re still having trouble with your water heater pilot light in the U.S., don’t hesitate to call Ӱ 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 thrilled with our services, we’ll work to make it right. We are leaders in innovation and customer engagement, with rich community involvement that reflects our commitment to your comfort. Call 866-397-3787 today to reach the trained staff at Ӱ Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Let us make a meaningful difference in your life, one hot shower at a time. 

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