Steps to Re-Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

When you step into the shower, you expect the water to get nice and hot within a few seconds. If a freezing shower greets you instead, you know something’s wrong. The typical culprit behind this uncomfortable, chilly 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 simple, step-by-step process from the pros at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing outlined below, and you’ll soon be back to enjoying 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 will change depending on the model, and you should get everything you need in the manual. If you don’t have the paper copy that came with the water heater, look up the model number online to find a digital version. Still, the following steps should apply for most gas water heaters:

  1. Find the gas shut-off valve, which generally is distinctly 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 allow any remaining gas to dissipate.
  2. Open the pilot light access cover or door, which is commonly found beneath the gas valve. Occasionally, there isn’t a door; instead, you may see the pilot light burner by peering into a small opening.
  3. Arm yourself with a flashlight or headlamp. Next, peer into the pilot light access and find two small gas tubes leading to the burner. Keep an eye on this part of your water heater as you go ahead with lighting the water heater pilot.
  4. Turn the gas knob to “Pilot.” This move 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. Light the pilot light while still holding down the gas knob or button. Your water heater may have an igniter button, frequently 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 roughly 30 to 60 seconds after the flame sparks. Make sure the flame stays 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. Place the door or access cover back on the unit. Give your water heater roughly 20 to 60 minutes to reheat the water, and you’ll be able to enjoy that hot shower!

My Home’s Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit?

Needing to relight the pilot from time to time isn’t a cause for concern. Unfortunately, there could be a more serious underlying issue if the water heater pilot light refuses to stay lit. Some common factors that cause this problem are:

  • Faulty thermocouple: The thermocouple is an automatic safety shut-off, shutting off gas flow when the pilot light isn’t on. If this feature is misaligned, dirty or damaged, you may face frequent pilot light problems. Wiggle the thermocouple slightly 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 has a yellow flame, it’s probably due to a dirty pilot opening. This can inhibit the thermocouple’s functioning, causing pilot light instability.
  • Weak or faulty gas regulator: Issues with this component may lead to an inadequate gas supply needed to maintain the pilot light. If more than one of the gas appliances in your dwelling have similar issues, examine the regulator.
  • Gusty conditions: Water heaters often share a utility closet with the furnace, which needs fresh air to operate properly. Powerful drafts from this air intake can extinguish the pilot light.

Got the Pilot Light Lit? Let Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing Keep it That Way!

If you’re still having difficulty with your water heater pilot light in the U.S., contact Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Our ACE-certified technicians provide fast, reliable solutions to all your comfort worries. Everything we do is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not thrilled with our services, we’ll work to fix it. We are leaders in innovation and customer engagement, with rich community involvement that shows our commitment to your comfort. Call 866-397-3787 today to reach the qualified staff at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Let us make a big difference in your life, one hot shower at a time. 

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