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How to Relight Your Water Heater Pilot Light

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  • Post last modified:September 1, 2023

How to water heater pilot light troubleshooting is a common concern, but there’s no need to panic. With a few basic tools and some helpful tips, you can usually fix the problem yourself. This guide provides a step-by-step walkthrough for relighting your water heater pilot light and offers advice for when the light won’t stay on. Understanding the pilot light is key: It’s a small gas flame essential for igniting your water heater’s main burner, and when it’s out, you’re out of hot water.

Key Takeaways:

  • Relighting the pilot light is a common solution to water heater problems.
  • The pilot light is a small gas flame that ignites the main burner.
  • If the pilot light goes out, you won’t have any hot water.

Understanding the Water Heater Pilot Light

Before attempting to relight your water heater pilot light, it’s essential to understand what it is and how it works. The pilot light is a small flame that ignites the gas burner inside your water heater. This burner then heats the water that’s stored in the tank, allowing you to have hot water when you need it.

The pilot light assembly is an essential part of your water heater. It consists of a thermocouple and a gas valve that work together to control the flame. The thermocouple is a safety device that detects the heat from the pilot light and sends a signal to the gas valve to keep the gas flowing. If the pilot light goes out, the thermocouple will shut off the gas to prevent any potential hazards.

If your pilot light is not staying lit, there may be several reasons for this. In gas water heaters, the most common reason is a faulty thermocouple or a clogged pilot tube. In electric water heaters, it could be an issue with the heating element or the thermostat. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to troubleshoot the problem before attempting to relight the pilot light.

Gas water heaters typically have a visible pilot light that you can see through a small window on the tank. Electric water heaters, on the other hand, don’t have a pilot light assembly. Instead, they have heating elements that heat the water directly.

Regardless of the type of water heater you have, it’s important to understand how the pilot light works and how to troubleshoot common issues. This knowledge will help you maintain your water heater and keep it running efficiently.

water heater pilot light assembly

Safety Precautions Before Relighting

Before attempting to relight the pilot light, it is essential to take necessary safety precautions. Failure to do so could result in serious injury or property damage. If you notice any strange smells or suspect a gas leak, immediately turn off the gas supply and contact a professional plumber or gas service provider.

Water heater pilot light won’t ignite? First, ensure that the gas valve is turned to the “on” position and that the temperature setting is high enough for the pilot light to ignite. Next, check the pilot light assembly for any blockages or debris that may be preventing the gas from flowing. If the issue persists, it may be best to consult a professional.

Pilot light keeps going out? This could indicate a problem with the thermocouple, which is responsible for sensing when the pilot light is lit. Check that the thermocouple is properly positioned and aligned and that there are no obstructions or dirt preventing it from functioning correctly. If the problem persists, it may be necessary to replace the thermocouple.

Water heater leaking at the bottom or from the top? A leaking water heater can be a serious issue that requires immediate attention. Turn off the power or gas supply and the water supply to the heater. Check for visible signs of damage or leaks in the tank, fittings, or pipes. If you notice any damage, it is advisable to contact a professional plumber to fix or replace the unit.

By following these safety precautions and addressing any issues before attempting to relight the pilot light, you can help ensure the continued safe and efficient operation of your water heater.

water heater safety precautions

Relighting the Water Heater Pilot Light

Now that we’ve covered the safety precautions, let’s dive into the process of relighting the pilot light. The steps for gas and electric water heaters differ, so make sure to follow the instructions for your specific type of water heater.

Relighting Gas Water Heater Pilot Light

Step 1: Locate the pilot light assembly. It’s usually located near the bottom of the water heater and has a control knob with settings for “on,” “off,” and “pilot.”

Step 2: Turn the control knob to the “off” position and wait for 5-10 minutes to allow any gas fumes to dissipate.

Step 3: Turn the control knob to the “pilot” position. While holding down the control knob, press the igniter button or use a long lighter to light the pilot light.

Step 4: Keep the control knob pressed down for 30-60 seconds to allow the thermocouple to heat up and stabilize the pilot light. Release the control knob and the pilot light should stay on.

Step 5: Turn the control knob to the “on” position and the burner should light up. If the burner doesn’t light up, repeat the process or consider troubleshooting other issues.

relighting water heater pilot light

Relighting Electric Water Heater Pilot Light

Electric water heaters don’t have a pilot light like gas water heaters. Instead, they have heating elements that heat up the water. If you’re experiencing issues with your electric water heater, it’s best to consult a professional.

If you’ve followed the steps for your specific water heater type but the pilot light still won’t stay lit, it may be time to call in a professional to diagnose and fix any issues. Don’t attempt to fix complex problems on your own, as this could result in injury or further damage to your water heater.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

If you’re having trouble with your water heater pilot light, don’t worry! There are some common issues that can be easily fixed. Here are some solutions for common pilot light problems:

Pilot light goes out when burner kicks on

If your pilot light goes out when the burner kicks on, it could be a problem with your thermocouple. This is a device that controls the gas flow to your burner. Check to make sure it’s properly aligned and tightened. If it’s still not working, you may need to replace it.

Water heater keeps tripping breaker

If your water heater is tripping the breaker in your electrical panel, it could be due to a faulty thermostat or heating element. Make sure the thermostat is set to the correct temperature and the heating element is properly installed. If this doesn’t work, you may need to call a professional electrician to inspect and repair your electrical panel.

Water heater whistling

If you hear a whistling sound coming from your water heater, it could be due to a buildup of sediment in your tank. Drain and flush your tank to remove the sediment and prevent further damage to your water heater.

Water heater burst

If your water heater has burst, turn off the water supply immediately and call a professional plumber. Bursting can be caused by excessive pressure buildup, which can occur from a faulty pressure relief valve, blocked vent pipe, or an overheating tank. A professional plumber will be able to assess the damage and provide a solution.

Water heater beeping

If your water heater is making a beeping sound, it could be indicating a fault or malfunction. Check your owner’s manual for troubleshooting tips, or contact the manufacturer for assistance.

Water heater hissing

A hissing sound coming from your water heater could be due to a leak in your tank or pipes. Turn off your water supply and contact a professional plumber immediately to avoid further damage or potential safety hazards.

Water heater keeps turning off

If your water heater keeps turning off, it could be due to a faulty thermostat or a buildup of sediment in your tank. Check the thermostat setting and drain and flush your tank to remove sediment buildup. If this doesn’t work, you may need to call a professional plumber to inspect and repair your water heater.

Water Heater Pilot Light Troubleshooting

Choosing the Right Water Heater

When it comes to choosing a water heater, there are several factors to consider such as your home’s hot water needs, energy efficiency, and budget. Two common types of water heaters are tankless and traditional.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are becoming increasingly popular due to their energy efficiency and compact design. Rather than storing hot water in a tank, tankless heaters heat water on-demand as it passes through the unit. This means you’ll never run out of hot water, but it also means that the initial cost of the unit may be higher than traditional water heaters. Additionally, installation may require electrical upgrades or gas line modifications.

Some pros of tankless water heaters include:

  • Energy savings, as they only heat water when needed
  • Longer lifespan compared to traditional water heaters
  • Space-saving design, as they can be mounted on walls

However, there are also some cons to consider:

  • Higher initial cost compared to traditional water heaters
  • May require electrical or gas line upgrades during installation
  • May not be able to provide hot water for multiple uses simultaneously

Traditional Water Heaters

Traditional water heaters store hot water in a large tank that continually heats and maintains the temperature of the water until it is needed. These units are generally more affordable upfront but may cost more in energy usage over time.

Pros of traditional water heaters include:

  • Lower initial cost than tankless water heaters
  • Ability to provide hot water for multiple uses simultaneously
  • May be easier to install or replace

However, there are also some cons to consider:

  • May waste energy heating water that is not immediately needed
  • May take up more space than tankless water heaters
  • May have a shorter lifespan than tankless water heaters

Electric vs. Gas Water Heaters

Electric water heaters use heating elements to heat the water, while gas water heaters use a burner that ignites and heats the gas that flows through the unit.

Pros of electric water heaters include:

  • No need for a gas line connection
  • May be easier to maintain and repair
  • May be more energy efficient for smaller households or in areas with lower electricity rates

Pros of gas water heaters include:

  • Lower operating costs than electric water heaters
  • May have faster heating times than electric water heaters
  • May be more energy efficient for larger households or in areas with lower gas rates

It’s important to note that gas water heaters may be more dangerous than electric ones due to the risk of explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning. However, with proper installation and maintenance, this risk can be minimized.

Top-Rated Water Heaters in Houston

Some top-rated water heaters in Houston include:

Brand Type Size Cost
Rheem Gas 40-50 gallons $500-$700
A.O. Smith Electric 40-50 gallons $400-$600
Rinnai Tankless N/A $800-$1,200

Remember to consider your own home’s warm water needs, energy performance, and finances when deciding on a water heater. Consulting with a professional plumber can also assist ensure you’re making the proper preference for your house.

water heater explosion

Understanding Water Heater Lifespan and Maintenance

Water heaters are an crucial appliance in any domestic, imparting warm water for daily use. However, like another appliance, they have got a restricted lifespan and require normal protection to make sure right functioning. In this section, I will discuss the lifespan of water heaters, how they paintings, and not unusual problems like leaking.

How long does it take for a water heater to warmness up?

The time it takes for a water heater to warmth up relies upon on different factors, along with the ability of the tank and the temperature putting. Generally, it takes around 30-60 mins for a water heater to heat as much as its complete capability. However, a few models come with a faster heating device that could heat up within a couple of minutes.

How long do water warmers ultimate?

On common, a properly-maintained water heater can final among 8-12 years. However, this lifespan can range relying on elements like the type of water heater, high-quality of set up, and maintenance practices. Tankless water heaters have a longer lifespan than conventional tank fashions, with some lasting up to twenty years.

Why is my water heater leaking?

Water heater leaks are a common problem and might occur due to various motives like a damaged tank, unfastened connections, or immoderate strain. Leaking may be dangerous and have to be addressed immediately to prevent in addition harm and ability risks. If you notice any symptoms of leaking or dripping, call a expert technician to look into and restore the problem.

How do water heaters paintings?

Water heaters work by way of heating the bloodless water that enters the tank and storing it till it’s miles wanted. The heating system occurs thru a heating detail or burner, relying on whether it is a gas or electric version. Once the water is heated to the favored temperature, it’s brought to the taps and furniture throughout the house via pipes.

Why do water heaters leak?

Water heaters can leak because of diverse motives like excessive stress, sediment buildup, or a broken tank. Regular preservation can assist save you leaks and lengthen the lifespan of the equipment. It’s essential to preserve the tank clean, check for leaks, and update worn-out components or additives.

Can water warmers leak?

Yes, water heaters can leak, and it is a not unusual trouble that calls for immediate interest. Leaking can cause damage to floors, partitions, and ceilings and potentially motive electrical risks or fuel leaks. If you word any signs of leaking, flip off the water and fuel supply straight away, and make contact with a professional technician to check out and restore the issue.

water heater maintenance

Maintaining your water heater is vital to make sure its performance, prolong its lifespan, and save you ability hazards. Regular renovation practices like flushing the tank, checking the anode rod, and inspecting for leaks can assist hold your water heater in pinnacle circumstance. Remember to visit a professional technician if you come across any issues or want help with upkeep or upkeep.


I wish this guide has supplied you with valuable insights on the way to effortlessly relight the pilot light to your water heater. Remember to prioritize safety and take all necessary precautions earlier than attempting to relight the pilot light. If you stumble upon any problems, use our troubleshooting pointers to assist diagnose and fix the trouble.

It’s additionally vital to understand the lifespan and protection necessities in your water heater to make certain its sturdiness. Regular preservation can assist prevent problems like leaks and make sure green operation. Remember, do no longer try to restore any issues unless you have got right information and education. If doubtful, touch a licensed technician to help with upkeep.

Additional Information:

Do water heaters leak? Yes, they can. Leaks may be resulting from various reasons, together with corrosion, defective valves, and high pressure.

Can water heaters blow up? While rare, water heaters may additionally explode if the strain builds up too excessive. This is why it’s critical to have a stress comfort valve set up and maintained often.

Why does the water heater maintain going out? The pilot light may match out because of numerous reasons, consisting of a defective thermocouple, gasoline deliver issues, or a draft within the room.

Is a water heater leak risky? Yes, a water heater leak can be risky as it is able to cause water damage and potentially cause electrical hazards if water contacts electric components. Additionally, a gasoline leak may be a fire threat.

How a lot do water warmers weigh? The weight can range primarily based on the kind and length of the water heater. A traditional forty-gallon fuel water heater can weigh round 150 kilos, at the same time as a tankless water heater can weigh around 50 kilos.

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