Few things are worse than preparing for a hot shower or bath only to find that you can’t get any hot water. However, if your gas water heater keeps shutting off for no reason, this is precisely the position you may find yourself in! The main reasons that a gas water heater automatically shuts off are because the pilot light goes out, the pilot light can’t start, or there are problems with the gas supply. Here we look at what you can do to get to the bottom of this issue and make your hot water supply more reliable.
If you can light your pilot light, but it keeps going out, the first item to check is the thermocouple. When the water heater is first lit, a valve releases gas into the burner, and the pilot light ignites that gas. After about 30 seconds, heat from the ignited pilot light flame activates a simple electrical switch called a thermocouple which ensures that the gas supply to the pilot stays open and your water heater keeps functioning.
If your gas water heater keeps shutting off, the thermocouple could be dirty, bent or damaged. The thermocouple is usually easily visible next to the pilot light. Inspect the thermocouple to determine if it is dirty or damaged in some way. If it is dirty, turn off the gas to allow the thermocouple to cool. You can then clean the thermocouple by gently sanding it with fine sandpaper.
Bent or Damaged Thermocouple
The thermocouple won’t work unless it is positioned to be in the pilot flame. The thermocouple may become bent or damaged due to an impact or just old age. You can try to rectify a bent thermocouple by gently bending it closer to the pilot light, but if the thermocouple is damaged or broken, you might need to call your local plumber to replace it.
Dirty Pilot Tube
Dirt or soot can collect in the pilot light tube and can cause a weak flame or prevent the pilot light from lighting altogether. A dirty pilot burner is most likely your problem if you see a weak, flickering yellow flame coming from your pilot burner instead of an intense, blue flame that stands at a maximum of a ½ inch high. You can gently clean the pilot tube with a needle to remove any blockages when the pilot tube has cooled, but if issues persist, call your professional plumber.
A Bad Gas Valve
If the supply of gas to the pilot light or burners is interrupted due to the gas valve or its inner elements being damaged, your gas water heater will shut off. If you’ve ruled out problems with your pilot light or thermocouple, your water heater’s gas valve is most likely to blame. Repair or replacement of the gas valve is best done by your plumber.
Dirty Or Clogged Air Inlet
Today’s gas water heaters have air inlet screens at the bottom of the water heater that can get clogged with dust, dirt, soot, pet hair and lint. If the air inlet screen is clogged, it doesn’t let in enough air to keep the gas burners going, and the water heater will shut off.
If at any time you notice the smell of natural gas coming from your water heater, leave your home, turn off your gas supply and call your gas company for emergency assistance.
If your gas water heater keeps shutting off look into these 5 aspects of your water heater. Call your local plumber, Magnificent Plumbing for expert advice to get your gas water heater back to consistent function.