Learn about hot water heater pilot lights with Ben Franklin Tyler.

15 May Light Your Hot Water Heater Pilot Light in 5 Easy Steps

Light Your Hot Water Heater Pilot Light

Your hot water heater pilot light can go out for several reasons. The lack of a pilot light may indicate a problem with the heater itself, but a hot water heater pilot light can go out for other reasons such as fluctuations in the gas pressure. If your pilot light is out, there will usually be cold water coming out of your hot water valves. The good news is that you can follow these 5 easy steps to reignite your hot water heater pilot light:

1. Turn Off the Gas 

The first thing you want to do is to make sure the gas is turned off. To do this, locate the gas regulator valve. This valve is usually found on the outside of your water heater where the main gas pipe enters the heater. Turn this valve to the “off” position and wait at least five minutes to let any lingering gas dissipate.

2. Locate the Pilot Light

You will probably need a flashlight for this next part. Your hot water heater pilot light can usually be found beneath the water tank on your unit. You may need to remove an access panel to access it. Some newer models may have the pilot light behind a glass panel. The casing for the pilot light should look like a small silver tube. If there is already a flame burning at the end of this tube, your pilot light is already on, and you will need to call a plumber to diagnose any other problems you may be having with your water heater.

3. Check for any Gas Leaks

Learn how to light your hot water pilot light here.

Before going any further, you should double check to make sure you don’t have any gas leaks or lingering gas. Igniting a flame in the proximity of a gas leak can be very dangerous for you and your home. You should only reignite your hot water heater pilot light if you are sure there is no gas leaking from your unit. To check this, you can perform a simple smell test:

Start by standing next to your water heater and sniffing the air. Natural gas is odorless, but gas companies add a compound called mercaptan to ensure it can be detected in case of a leak. Leaking gas will smell like rotten eggs or sulfur.

If you can’t smell anything like rotten eggs in the air near your unit, move closer and sniff any of the valves, pipes, or connection points around your water heater. Also, be listening for a hissing sound, which can be an indicator of a gas leak.

If you smell any gas, even faintly, you should leave the house immediately and call your plumber who can tell you what to do next. If you can smell the gas strongly, you should also call 911 and tell them you have a potential gas leak in your home. Don’t turn any light switches on or off when you leave the house as this can create sparks which may ignite the gas. Always leave the house first before calling anyone. Leaking natural gas can make you sick, and any extra time near a gas leak will increase your risk of accidentally inhaling or igniting the gas.

4. Ignite your Hot Water Heater Pilot Light 

When you are sure there are no leaks in your water heater unit, you can go ahead and reignite your hot water heater pilot light. To do this, turn the regulator valve to “pilot” and press and hold it down. On some models, you may need to press a separate red button which controls the gas to the pilot light. If your unit has a separate button, it will often be red and should be labeled “pilot.” You can also always check the front of your unit for instructions that may help you locate all the vales and buttons necessary to reignite your hot water heater pilot light.

Once you’re holding the regulator valve down you will need to provide the spark to reignite the pilot light. If you have a newer model, your water heater should have a black or red button labeled “ignition.” Pushing this button down should re-ignite your pilot light. You should hear a click as this happens. If you have an older or manual model, you will need to reignite the pilot light by providing your spark. The safest way to do this is to use a long-nosed lighter like the ones used to light grills. Never use a match or cigarette lighter, as this could increase your chances of burning your hand when the pilot light reignites.

5. Make Sure the Flame Stays Lit, and Your Heater is Working. 

After the pilot light is lit, hold the regulator valve down for at least a minute. This will allow the thermocouple sensor to re-heat. This sensor detects if your pilot light has gone out and will turn your water heater off if it gets too cold. After a minute, slowly release the regulator valve and watch to see if the pilot light stays lit. If it does, turn the regulator valve to “on.” You should hear a “whoosh” which will indicate that your main burner has reignited. Once this happens, your pilot light should be good to go! Replace any access panels and be sure to take any tools you used with you.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with natural gas can be intimidating. However, if you follow these easy steps, you can safely reignite your hot water heater pilot light whenever you need to. If you are still unsure of what you are doing, can’t figure out how your particular model works, or feel better have a professional handle it, you can always call Benjamin Franklin Plumbing for professional, punctual, and locally-based assistance.

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Tyler serves the East Texas cities of Kilgore, Longview, Tyler, and Whitehouse with a team of certified plumbers. In addition to emergency plumbing repair, some of the plumbing services provided by the company include faucet repair, drain services, toilet repair, plumbing fixture installations, tub and shower installations, kitchen sink repair, faucet installation, water heater repair/replacement, and garbage disposal replacement. Call us today at (903) 730-6611 to schedule an appointment!

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