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How to Re-Light a Home Water Heater Pilot Light

When you walk into the shower, you expect the water to get nice and hot fast. If an icy shower greets you instead, you know something’s amiss. The typical reason behind this uncomfortable, chilly surprise is a water heater pilot light that’s gone out.

Don’t worry—relighting a water heater pilot doesn’t require an engineering degree. Follow the simple, step-by-step strategies from the pros at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing laid out below, and you’ll soon be back to delighting in those hot showers.

Ways You Can Easily Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

To start out, read the user’s manual for your water heater model. Instructions differ from brand to brand, and you should see the information you need in the manual. If you don’t have 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 the majority of 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. Switch 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 found below the gas valve. Sometimes, there isn’t a door; instead, you might see the pilot light burner if you look in a small opening.
  3. Get a flashlight or headlamp. Then, 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 movement lets the gas flow, prepping 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. Your water heater could have an igniter button, frequently red or black. If it doesn’t, you’ll need a long lighter to light the pilot manually.
  6. Push down the gas knob or button for approximately 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 sparks back to life.
  8. Place the door or access cover back on the unit. Give your water heater roughly 20 to 60 minutes to reheat the water, and you’ll be ready to enjoy that hot shower!

My Home’s Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit?

Needing to relight the pilot every once in a while is usually not a major cause for concern. However, there could be a more severe underlying issue if the water heater pilot light won’t stay lit. Some frequent causes of this are:

  • Damaged thermocouple: The thermocouple is an automatic safety shut-off, shutting off gas flow when the pilot light is not lit. If this feature is misaligned, dirty or damaged, you may face frequent pilot light problems. Reposition the thermocouple just a tiny bit and try lighting the pilot once more. If that doesn’t get the job done, you could possibly need to clean it. And if that proves ineffective, it may be necessary to replace the thermocouple, a very basic task for a licensed technician.
  • Dirty pilot opening: If your pilot light has a yellow flame, it’s likely due to a dirty pilot opening. This can hinder the thermocouple’s functioning, causing pilot light instability.
  • Weak or faulty gas regulator: Trouble with this component may lead to an inadequate gas supply needed to maintain the pilot light. If more than one of the gas appliances in your home have similar issues, examine the regulator.
  • Breezy conditions: Water heaters commonly share a utility closet with the furnace, which requires fresh air to work properly. Stiff drafts from this air intake can snuff out the pilot light.

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

If you’re still having difficulty 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 cures to all your comfort troubles. Everything we do is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not delighted with our work, we’ll work to fix it. We are leaders in innovation and customer engagement, with deep community involvement that shows our commitment to your comfort. Call 866-397-3787 today to reach the qualified staff at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. We’re ready to make a meaningful difference in your life, one hot shower at a time. 

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