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How to Fix A Water Heater Pilot Light That Won’t Stay Lit

Published on August 29, 2023
Written by Bo
water heater pilot light won't stay lit - full speed plumbing

Encountering a faulty water heater pilot light can be a frustrating experience, especially when you’re looking forward to a warm shower after a long day. However, this issue is more common than you might think, and with a bit of guidance, it’s something you can often resolve on your own. 

In this blog post, we’ll take you through the essential steps to fix a water heater pilot light that won’t stay lit. 

So grab your toolbox, and let’s bring back the warmth to your water heater! Afterward, check out this blog post if you’d like to learn some of our top plumbing tips to try this summer.

What is a Water Heater Pilot Light?

The pilot light is a critical component of your water heater. Think of it as the little flame that could – small but mighty! This tiny flame springs into action when you turn on your water heater. It ignites the burner, which in turn heats the water. That’s how you get those delightful warm showers on chilly mornings.

This flame deserves a gold star for reliability because it’s always on, even when your water heater isn’t actively heating up water. It’s stationed right below your water heater’s gas control knob, keeping things warm and ready for when you need hot water.

However, if this persistent little flame goes out, it can’t light the burner, and your water heater falls short of its one job – providing you with hot water. That’s why keeping an eagle eye on your pilot light is crucial.

Fixing a Water Heater Pilot Light That Won’t Stay Lit

Here’s our step-by-step guide for dealing with a water heater pilot light that doesn’t want to stay lit:

Step 1: Ensure Your Safety First

Before you begin, it’s crucial to take safety precautions. Turn off the gas control knob on your water heater and wait for a few minutes to allow any residual gas to disperse. This will prevent any accidental ignition. 

Also, if you smell a strong scent of gas, leave the area immediately and contact your gas company. Safety is always the priority.

Step 2: Locate the Pilot Light

Next, you need to find the pilot light. It’s typically located right under the gas control knob on your water heater. You can often identify it by a small, clear viewing window or a removable cover. Remember, this little flame is the heart of your water heater.

Step 3: Relight the Pilot Light

Once you’ve located the pilot light, it’s time to relight it. Turn the knob on your water heater unit to the ‘Pilot’ setting. Then, press down on the button (also known as the ‘reset’ button) and light the pilot area using a long lighter or matchstick. Hold the button down for a minute, then release it. If the pilot light stays lit, you’ve successfully resolved the issue.

Step 4: Check the Thermocouple

If your pilot light keeps going out even after relighting, it could be a faulty thermocouple. The thermocouple is a safety device that shuts down the gas supply if it detects the pilot light is out. 

Check if it’s in the correct place – the tip should be in the pilot flame. If it looks badly worn or damaged, it may need replacement.

Step 5: Consult a Professional

Finally, if you’re still experiencing issues with your pilot light after following these steps, it might be time to call in a professional. 

While being a hands-on homeowner is undeniably rewarding, some things are better left to the experts to ensure safety and efficacy.

By following these simple steps, you can potentially save yourself a call to the plumber and get your water heater back in action in no time. Just remember, if things get too complicated, don’t hesitate to call in a professional, like one of our team members at Full Speed Plumbing. We can help you identify the reason why the pilot light on your water heater won’t stay lit and deal with the issue in a flash.

Maintaining the Pilot Light on Your Water Heater

The pilot light of your water heater deserves some TLC, as it’s the heart of your system! Here’s how you can keep it in top shape.

  1. Regular Inspections: Make it a habit of visually inspecting the pilot light. It should burn with a steady blue flame. If the flame is yellow or orange, it might indicate a problem.
  2. Keep the Area Clean: Ensure the area around the pilot light is clean. Dust and dirt can clog up the components, affecting the pilot light’s performance. Use a brush or canned air to gently clean the area without causing damage.
  3. Check the Flame Size: The pilot light should be about 1-2 inches in height. If the flame is too small, it may not heat the thermocouple enough to keep it lit. Refer to your water heater’s manual for instructions on adjusting the flame size.
  4. Monitor the Thermocouple: The thermocouple is crucial in keeping your pilot light on. Once in a while, check the thermocouple’s condition. If it’s worn out or damaged, it may need replacement.
  5. Annual Professional Checkups: While DIY maintenance can keep your water heater in good condition, annual checkups by a professional are advisable. They can spot potential issues early and ensure the system is working efficiently.

Remember, safety is paramount when dealing with appliances like water heaters. If the pilot light won’t stay lit on your water heater, don’t hesitate to consult a professional! 

By maintaining your pilot light, you’ll ensure a steady supply of hot water for those comforting warm showers.

How to Fix A Water Heater Pilot Light That Won’t Stay Lit — Conclusion

In conclusion, dealing with a faulty water heater pilot light can be a challenge. However, by following the steps outlined in this guide, you can attempt to troubleshoot the issue safely and effectively. 

Remember, it’s your water heater pilot light’s job to ensure that every shower you take is a warm delight. If the task becomes overwhelming or if the problem persists, professional help is just a phone call away. 

Our team at Full Speed Plumbing in Mount Vernon, WA, is always ready to step in, ensuring you’re never left in the cold. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for any water heater-related issues. 

Let us handle the heat so that you can enjoy the warmth!

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