Why does pilot light go out on water heater?

Discover the common reasons for your water heater's pilot light going out and how to troubleshoot the issue effectively. Keep your hot water running!
Steve Donaldson Master HVAC technician
Steve Donaldson
Master HVAC technician at Quality Comfort Home Services

I am Steve Donaldson, a Master HVAC technician with a rich background in addressing heating issues, especially when it comes to various types of water heaters. Leveraging my extensive expertise, I offer insights and advice to help individuals maintain a warm and secure home environment. Reach out to me at steve.donaldson@tedreviews.com for valuable tips from a seasoned professional in the industry.

Steve Donaldson Master HVAC technician
Steve Donaldson
Master HVAC technician at Quality Comfort Home Services

I am Steve Donaldson, a Master HVAC technician with a rich background in addressing heating issues, especially when it comes to various types of water heaters. Leveraging my extensive expertise, I offer insights and advice to help individuals maintain a warm and secure home environment. Reach out to me at steve.donaldson@tedreviews.com for valuable tips from a seasoned professional in the industry.

Have you ever wondered why the pilot light on your water heater suddenly goes out, leaving you without hot water? It can be frustrating and inconvenient, but there are several common reasons why this happens. Understanding the cause can help you troubleshoot and fix the issue, ensuring a consistent supply of hot water in your home.

  • Condensation build-up, improper venting, and a dirty thermocouple are common causes of the pilot light going out on a water heater.
  • To check if your pilot light is working properly, inspect the flame color, consistency, and strength.
  • If your pilot light goes out, you can relight it by following the specific instructions provided in your water heater's manual.
  • While you can attempt to troubleshoot pilot light issues, it's best to call a professional if you're unsure or unable to fix the problem.
  • Maintaining and inspecting your pilot light regularly can help prevent disruptions to your hot water supply.

How to Check if Your Pilot Light is Working Properly

To determine if your pilot light is working properly, you can perform a quick inspection. Here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Check the color of the flame: The pilot light flame should ideally be blue. If you notice a yellow or red flame, it may indicate an issue.
  2. Ensure a consistent flame: The flame of the pilot light should be steady and not flickering or waving around. An inconsistent flame could be a sign of a problem.
  3. Look for a split flame: Carefully observe the flame for any splits. A split flame could indicate dirt or debris in the pilot tube, which can affect its performance.
  4. Assess the strength of the flame: A strong flame is essential for the proper functioning of the pilot light. If the flame appears weak or is struggling to stay lit, there may be a problem that needs attention.

By conducting these checks, you can assess the status of your pilot light and identify any potential issues. Remember, it's important to address any problems promptly to ensure a reliable and efficient water heating system.

Refer to the image below for a visual representation of a properly working pilot light:

Common Causes and Problems with Pilot Lights

When it comes to pilot lights on water heaters, there are several common causes and problems that can arise. These issues can disrupt the functioning of the pilot light, leading to it going out or not staying lit properly. In this section, we'll explore some of these common causes and problems and provide tips to prevent pilot light issues from occurring.

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Condensation Build-Up

One of the common causes of pilot lights going out is condensation build-up. This is especially true for water heaters that have recently been turned on or receive cold water. The presence of condensation can extinguish the pilot light, causing it to go out. Regularly inspecting and draining any excess condensation from the water heater can help prevent this issue.

Improper Venting or Air Supply

Another common cause of pilot light problems is improper venting or air supply. If there is insufficient airflow or ventilation around the water heater, it can disrupt the pilot light, causing it to go out. Ensuring proper ventilation and air supply to the water heater can help prevent this issue. Additionally, checking for any obstructions in the venting system and clearing them out can also help maintain a consistent pilot light.

Dirty Thermocouple

A dirty thermocouple can also be a culprit behind pilot light issues. The thermocouple is responsible for sensing the presence of the pilot light flame and triggering the gas valve to open. If the thermocouple is dirty or covered in residue, it may not function properly, leading to the pilot light going out. Regularly cleaning and maintaining the thermocouple can help prevent this problem.

Other Possible Causes

In addition to the above-mentioned causes, there are other factors that can contribute to pilot light problems. Wiring connections may become loose or faulty, interrupting the signal to the gas valve. Problems with the gas supply, such as low pressure or blocked lines, can also impact the pilot light's stability. Soot or carbon buildup on the pilot assembly or burner can interfere with the flame, causing it to go out. Regular maintenance and inspections can help identify and address these issues before they become major problems.

Taking preventative measures and following regular maintenance routines can significantly reduce the occurrence of pilot light issues. Regularly inspecting and cleaning the water heater, ensuring proper ventilation and air supply, and resolving any wiring or gas supply issues can help keep the pilot light burning steadily. By addressing these common causes and problems, you can enjoy consistent and reliable hot water from your water heater.

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We'll now move on to the next section, where we'll discuss how to relight a pilot light on a water heater.

How to Relight a Pilot Light on a Water Heater

If your pilot light goes out, you may need to relight it. Follow these steps to safely relight your pilot light on a water heater:

  1. Turn off the gas valve: Locate the gas valve on your water heater and turn it off. This will ensure that no gas is flowing while you relight the pilot light.
  2. Wait for gas to dissipate: Wait for a few minutes to allow any residual gas to dissipate. This step is important to prevent any potential accidents or explosions.
  3. Access the burner: Remove the access panel to gain access to the burner and pilot assembly. This panel is usually located at the bottom of the water heater.
  4. Set to “Pilot” position: Locate the gas control valve, which is typically labeled with different settings. Turn the valve to the “Pilot” position.
  5. Hold down the gas control valve: While holding down the gas control valve in the “Pilot” position, use a long lighter or match to ignite the pilot light. Be careful and avoid any contact with the flame.
  6. Release the gas control valve: Once the pilot light is lit, continue to hold the gas control valve for about a minute to allow the thermocouple to heat up. Then, release the valve.
  7. Turn the gas control valve to “On”: With the pilot light lit, turn the gas control valve to the “On” position. This will allow gas to flow to the burner and provide heat to your water heater.

It's important to note that the exact steps and procedures for relighting a pilot light may vary depending on the specific model and brand of your water heater. Always refer to the manufacturer's instructions or consult a professional if you are unsure.

how to relight pilot light on water heater

When to Call a Professional for Pilot Light Issues

While it's possible to attempt troubleshooting and fixing pilot light issues on your own, it can be a complex task. If you're uncertain about the cause of the pilot light going out or if you're unable to relight it, it's best to seek the expertise of a professional for water heater repair.

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An experienced technician can diagnose the problem and address any issues with the pilot light to ensure the proper functioning of your water heater. They have the knowledge and tools to navigate through potential complications and provide effective solutions. Additionally, they can offer valuable advice on how to prevent future pilot light problems.

Attempting to fix pilot light issues without the necessary skills and experience can lead to further complications or even safety hazards. By calling a professional, you can have peace of mind knowing that your water heater will be properly repaired, preventing any disruptions in your hot water supply.

water heater repair

Conclusion

The pilot light on a water heater is an essential component that ensures the steady supply of hot water. However, various issues can cause the pilot light to go out, such as condensation build-up, improper venting or air supply, and a dirty thermocouple.

To prevent disruptions to your hot water supply, it is crucial to regularly inspect and maintain your pilot light. By checking the flame color, consistency, and strength, you can determine if your pilot light is working properly. Additionally, taking preventative measures and conducting regular maintenance can help avoid common pilot light problems.

If you find yourself unable to troubleshoot or fix pilot light issues on your own, it is recommended to seek professional assistance. A qualified technician can diagnose the problem, resolve any issues with the pilot light, and ensure the proper functioning of your water heater.

Steve Donaldson Master HVAC technician
Steve DonaldsonMaster HVAC technician at Quality Comfort Home Services

I am Steve Donaldson, a Master HVAC technician with a rich background in addressing heating issues, especially when it comes to various types of water heaters. Leveraging my extensive expertise, I offer insights and advice to help individuals maintain a warm and secure home environment. Reach out to me at steve.donaldson@tedreviews.com for valuable tips from a seasoned professional in the industry.

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