Easy Ways to Re-Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

When you walk into the shower, you count on the water to get nice and hot within a few seconds. If an icy blast greets you instead, you know something’s not right. The typical culprit 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 a lot of training. Follow the quick, step-by-step plan from the pros at Service Experts 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, read the user’s manual for your water heater model. Instructions will change depending on the model, and you should find all the details you need in the manual. If you can’t find the original copy that came with the unit, look up the model number online to pull up a digital version. However, the following steps should apply for most gas water heaters:

  1. Look for the gas shut-off valve, which you’ll usually find 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 enable any residual gas to dissipate.
  2. Open the pilot light access cover or door, which is commonly found under the gas valve. Occasionally, 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. After that, peer into the pilot light access and find two small gas tubes leading to the burner. Observe this area as you continue with lighting the water heater pilot.
  4. Move the gas knob to “Pilot.” This move 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. Ignite 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 manually.
  6. Hold down the gas knob or button for roughly 30 to 60 seconds after the flame sparks. 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. Replace the access cover or door. Give your water heater about 20 to 60 minutes to warm the water, and you’ll be able 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 more severe underlying issue if the water heater pilot light refuses to stay lit. Some typical factors that cause this problem are:

  • Faulty thermocouple: The thermocouple is an automatic safety shut-off, preventing gas flow when the pilot light is out. If this element is misaligned, dirty or damaged, you may face frequent pilot light problems. 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 ineffective, it might be necessary to replace the thermocouple, a simple 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 hinder the thermocouple’s performance, causing pilot light instability.
  • Weak or faulty gas regulator: Issues with this component could lead to an inadequate gas supply needed to maintain the pilot light. If multiple gas appliances in your dwelling have similar challenges, examine the regulator.
  • Drafty conditions: Water heaters often share a utility closet with the furnace, which demands fresh air to work properly. Strong 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 issues with your water heater pilot light in Canada, reach out to Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Our ACE-certified technicians provide fast, helpful remedies to all your comfort woes. Everything we do is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not delighted with our work, we’ll work to resolve it. We are leaders in innovation and customer service, with rich community involvement that is a reflection of our commitment to your comfort. Call 866-397-3787 today to reach the professional staff at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. We’re ready to make a big difference in your life, one hot shower at a time. 

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