If you have a gas-powered water heater at home, chances are it uses a pilot light to ignite the gas burner. Occasionally, the pilot light goes out – whether this is due to equipment malfunction, leaks, or fluctuations in mains pressure. The key sign that your pilot light has gone out is that your hot water faucet no longer produces hot water. Understanding why your pilot light won’t stay lit is the first step, and your local plumber can help to diagnose and correct issues. When it’s time to spark your pilot light again, here’s what you need to do.
Check the Pilot Light
First, check that the pilot light has indeed gone out by removing the access panel at the bottom of your tank water heater. Newer tank water heaters have a see-through window where you can check the pilot light. Some gas tankless water heaters use a pilot light, while others have electronic ignition. You can check the instructions on your water heater or the user manual for more details about the specifics of your model.
Check for Gas Leaks
Before you attempt to relight the pilot, you should always check for a gas leak. Sniff around the valves and pilot area of the water heater for the characteristic rotten egg smell of gas. You can also listen for a hissing sound. Even if you notice a slight smell of gas, leave the area and contact your gas company or plumber for assistance.
Setting Up to Light the Pilot
Turn the temperature control of your water heater to the lowest temperature. You can find the temperature control on the front of the box outside the water heater. Turn the regulator valve that is also at the front of the heater to the ‘off’ position. Once the regulator valve has been turned off, leave the water heater for 10 minutes to allow all remaining gas to dissipate.
Find an Ignition Source
Newer model gas water heaters come with their own pilot light igniter. If you have an older model heater you’ll need to use your own flame to ignite the pilot. It’s best to choose a long reach lighter or fireplace matches for pilot ignition, small lighters and matches can leave you at risk of burns.
Lighting the Pilot
Once you’re ready to light the pilot turn the regulator valve to the pilot setting and push down on the valve. If your valve does not push down, look for a red control button near the valve and hold this down. This begins the flow of gas to the pilot light. While holding down the regulator valve or pilot button, quickly light the pilot at the same time.
Once the pilot is lit, continue to hold down the gas valve or control button for at least one minute. This helps to heat the thermocouple safety sensor that detects the pilot light. Release the valve or the control button slowly to ensure that the pilot light stays lit.
Restarting Your Gas Water Heater
Turn the regulator valve to the ‘on’ position. This should reignite the main burner and you will hear a muffled ‘whoomp’ sound. Adjust the thermostat to your desired temperature ensuring that it is not too hot as this can cause scalding.
If your pilot light continues to go out or it won’t stay lit, call Magnificent Plumbing & Rooter your local plumber to diagnose your issue and provide a customized solution to restore function to your water heater.