How to Re-Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

When you get into the shower, you expect the water to get nice and hot fast. If an ice-cold rain greets you instead, you know something’s not right. The typical culprit behind this uncomfortable, harsh surprise is a water heater pilot light that’s gone out.

Don’t worry—relighting your pilot doesn’t require an engineering degree. Follow the easy, step-by-step plan from the pros at Norrell Service Experts laid out below, and you’ll soon be back to taking advantage of those hot showers.

Tips on How to Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

First, read the user’s manual for your water heater model. Instructions vary, and you should get the information you need in the manual. If you’ve misplaced the paper copy that came with the water heater, look up the model number online to locate a digital version. Still, the following actions 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. Move this knob to the “Off” position and wait for five to 10 minutes to let any residual gas to dissipate.
  2. Open the pilot light access cover or door, which is normally found under the gas valve. Occasionally, there isn’t a door; instead, you might see the pilot light burner if you look in a small opening.
  3. Find a flashlight or headlamp. Then, peer into the pilot light access and find two small gas tubes leading to the burner. Monitor this part of your water heater as you proceed with lighting the water heater pilot.
  4. Switch the gas knob to “Pilot.” This action 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 home’s water heater could have an igniter button, often red or black. If your water heater does not, you’ll need a long lighter to light the pilot by hand.
  6. Hold down the gas knob or button for approximately 30 to 60 seconds after the flame catches. Be certain the flame is staying lit. 
  7. Turn 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. Put the access cover or door back on. 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 from time to time is usually not a major cause for concern. But, there could be a more serious underlying issue if the water heater pilot light will not stay lit. Some typical reasons behind this issue are:

  • Faulty thermocouple: The thermocouple is an automatic safety shut-off, preventing gas flow when the pilot light is not lit. If this component is misaligned, dirty or damaged, you may face frequent pilot light challenges. Reposition the thermocouple a little bit and try lighting the pilot a second time. If that doesn’t do the trick, you may need to clean it. And if that proves unproductive, it could be necessary to replace the thermocouple, a very basic task for a professional technician.
  • Dirty pilot opening: If your pilot light gives off a yellow flame, it’s likely due to a dirty pilot opening. This can restrict the thermocouple’s performance, leading to pilot light instability.
  • Weak or faulty gas regulator: Trouble with this component could lead to an inadequate gas supply needed to maintain the pilot light. If multiple gas appliances in your residence have similar issues, take a look at the regulator.
  • Gusty conditions: Water heaters commonly share a utility closet with the furnace, which needs fresh air to function properly. Stiff drafts from this air intake can blow out your pilot light.

Congrats, Your Water Heater’s Pilot Light is Lit. Let Norrell Service Experts Keep it That Way!

If you’re still having problems with your water heater pilot light in Birmingham, contact Norrell Service Experts. 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 work, we’ll work to fix it. We are leaders in innovation and customer support, with strong community involvement that shows our commitment to your comfort. Call 205-267-0023 today to reach the trained staff at Norrell Service Experts. We’re ready to make a big difference in your life, one hot shower at a time. 

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