When you notice the water in your home is not warming up, it is a sign that there may be trouble with your water heater. One of the first things to look at is the water heater’s pilot light. The pilot light ignites the gas. This creates heat and ultimately warms the water in the tank so that your house has warm water to enjoy a comfortable shower or bath. When the water heater is cold to the touch or the pilot light is out, no heat is being generated to warm the water tank. There is a simple solution to this common water heater problem, and it starts with finding the pilot light.

What to Do Prior to Looking for the Pilot Light

Safety is key! Before even trying to complete a visual inspection of the water heater’s pilot light, use your senses. Do you smell an enormous amount of natural gas? This can mean that there is a gas leak. You do not want to reignite the pilot light in such a situation because it can cause an explosion. Instead, have everyone leave the home immediately, and then call your utility company to inform them of a possible gas leak. The utility company may turn off the gas. At that point, it would be recommended that you call a professional plumbing service provider to come out and investigate the situation. In all other instances, if no gas leak is detected, finding the pilot light and relighting it is a process that does not necessarily need a professional.

Where Do I Find My Water Heater’s Pilot Light?

The pilot light for most water heaters is located near the ground where the gas control valve is. You may have an open gap view of the underside of the water heater tank. If not, there may be a panel to open or burner access covers near the bottom that need to be removed to see below the water heater. When the pilot light is on and working properly, there will be a consistent blue flame that you see. If you see a flame that is inconsistent or not blue, it is necessary to call in professional plumbing maintenance service help. And, in the case that you do not see a flame at all, then that is a signal that the pilot light to your water heater has gone out. The pilot light needs to be relit.

How Does the Pilot Light Look If It Is Not Lit?

When the pilot light to your water heater is out, it may be harder to see. You can look for an open metal tube that is pointing to another metal tube. That is where the pilot light is. The manufacturer’s manual should also have a diagram of how the pilot light appears.

What Do I Do If the Pilot Light to My Water Heater Is Out?

Before trying to relight the pilot, find out whether you have a water heater with a standing pilot (manual igniter) or one that uses an electronic ignition system (automatic igniter). Many modern water heaters may use the latter. Water heaters with an electronic ignition should not be manually lit. You can also determine if your water heater has an automatic igniter if there is an ignition button to the control dial. It is best to refer to the manufacturer’s instruction manual for the most accurate information.

How Do I Relight the Pilot on My Water Heater?

For most gas-powered water heaters, the first step is to turn off the thermostat on the water heater. There may be a knob or switch with settings like “On,” “Pilot,” and “Off.” Turning it to “Off” is necessary to allow the gas to properly clear out before trying to reignite the pilot again. It will be about five to 10 minutes before you want to proceed with setting the knob or switch back to “Pilot.” There may also be a “Reset” button that needs to be held down to light the pilot for tanks with an electronic ignition. Refer to the manufacturer’s instruction manual for further details. Water heaters without an electronic ignition generally will require you to hold down a control knob while manually lighting the pilot with a long, thin candle or long lighter for better reach.

What Do I Do After the Pilot is Relit?

When the pilot is relit, continue to hold down the gas button for a minute before completing a slow release of the button. This will help bleed out any air in the line and ensure that the flame remains on. You can then reset your water heater to “On” mode, which will result in the main burner igniting. When you do this, you will hear the change with the sound of a “whump” at the burner. Then, you may close the panel or place back all the burner access covers.

How Long Will It Take for My Water to Feel Hot Again?

Once the pilot to your gas water heater is ignited again, it can take anywhere from 30-40 minutes for a full tank of water to heat up. Timing will vary depending on the size of the water heater tank. You may also consider an insulation layer for the water heater to help keep the tank warmer.

What Are Common Causes for the Pilot Light Going Out?

Sometimes, a water heater’s pilot light may turn off because of gas pressure or a sudden draft causing the flame to go out, but this should not be a normal occurrence. If the pilot light goes off often, it may indicate a problem with the water heater where professional plumbing maintenance or repair services are necessary. It may be a matter of a dirty, bent, or broken thermocouple. The thermocouple can also be referred to as a flame sensor in more modern water heaters. The thermocouple acts as a sensor. It turns off gas when a flame outage is detected with the water heater.

Sometimes, there is a quick fix to water heater problems, but when an issue occurs like the water heater’s pilot light will not stay on after you relight it, then it is time to call in a professional plumbing service company. AZ Water, Drain & Sewer offers professional plumbing services, drain services, and water treatment services in Gilbert, AZ and the surrounding areas of Maricopa County. So, whether it is leak detection, leak repair, pipe cleaning, drain cleaning, pipe inspection, pipe lining, plumbing installations, plumbing maintenance, plumbing repairs, or water treatments services that you need help with, you can rely on the team at AZ Water, Drain & Sewer. Contact AZ Water, Drain & Sewer, a Gilbert Chamber of Commerce member and veteran-owned and -operated company, for professional plumbing services today!

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