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Do you know how to light a pilot light on a water heater? If not, don’t worry! In this article, we are covering when you should consider checking the pilot light, why the pilot light goes down and how to light a pilot light on both sealed and open combustion-type hot waters.
Lighting the pilot light is an important task. When you turn on your water heater it releases the gas to the main burner and the pilot help in igniting that gas for your water heater to start working and provide heat.
There are a few different ways that you can go about lighting the pilot light, which we will discuss in this article. So whether your pilot light has gone out and you need to relight it, or you’re just curious about how it works, read on!
What Is A Pilot Light?
A pilot light is a tiny flame that must be lit to ignite the burner in gas and propane-fueled water heaters. The pilot light is a little flame that burns at all times. When the water heater’s tank needs to be warmed, it is lit by the pilot light with help from the gas burner.
Consider the pilot light to be a match. You might strike a match to start a fire or a gas stove. However, you won’t be able to start a fire or fire up your gas range if you don’t have a match.
The same is true of the pilot light. If your pilot light goes out, your water heater won’t be able to ignite the gas burner and hence can’t heat the water. In many cases, finding out you don’t have hot water is actually the first indication that your pilot light might go out.
The water heater is then able to ignite the gas burner and begin heating the water again once the pilot light has been rekindled.
Signs To Consider Checking Pilot Light On Water Heater
These are three distinct indications that might tell your pilot light has gone out:
- No Hot Water: If your hot water isn’t as hot anymore, it’s likely that your pilot light has gone out. Of course, there may be other reasons for the absence of hot water, so if the problem isn’t with the pilot light you’ll need to troubleshoot further.
- Gas Control Valve Indicator: You may see a light or an error message on the gas control valve. The indicator light might change colors to indicate an issue, mainly if the tank includes a sticker that explains the indicator message. Check for a label on the tank that explains what the indicator warning signifies. One of the problems listed is almost always whether or not the pilot light is working.
- No Flame: If you can’t see a flame when conducting a visual inspection then, it’s confirmed that your pilot light is out.
How to check if the pilot light has gone out?
Even if your gas control valve indicates there’s a problem with the pilot light, visually checking for a flame is worth doing. The water heater’s burner chamber door should be found near the bottom of the device beneath the gas control valve.
Depending on the water heater, you may need to remove the door or open it in order to inspect the burner chamber and pilot light tube. If you can’t see flame the pilot light has probably gone out.
Reasons Why The Pilot Light Might Go Out
There are a number of reasons why a pilot light may go out. The following are some of the more prevalent causes:
1. Change in Gas Pressure
If there’s a natural gas pressure fluctuation, the pilot light is likely to go out. Although it won’t happen all that often, it does happen, and relighting the pilot usually solves the problem. If the pilot light keeps going out despite your efforts, something else is wrong.
The thermocouple’s primary function is to act as a safety device by shutting off the gas valve if the pilot light goes out. This prevents the gas from entering the chamber. Even though everything else on your heater is working properly, it may be shutting down the pilot light due to a bad thermocouple or because it is bent or unclean.
It’s possible that a burst of air would have put out your water heater’s pilot light if the combustion chamber isn’t sealed. Because the pilot light is only a tiny flame, it can be instantly extinguished if the heater is in an exposed position.
4. Lack of Combustible Air
Air is required for gas appliances, such as water heaters, to operate safely. The pilot light on your device may go out if it isn’t able to get the air it needs for combustion in a closet or other area where it will not have access to air. We strongly advise you to contact a professional if this is the case. This issue has the potential to be hazardous because carbon monoxide could accumulate in your house.
How to Light a Pilot Light on a Water Heater – Sealed & Open
The most recent sealed combustion-type hot water tank system will be the first we’ll go through. There is no requirement to (nor should you) disassemble the burner assembly in a sealed combustion chamber.
1. Pilot Light: How to Light a Sealed One?
Everything you’ll need to light this sealed pilot light is integrated directly into the burner control module, and there’s a viewing glass in the access panel that you can use to visually verify ignition.
The access is bolted shut, and it should only be done by a licensed expert. For DYI here’s how someone can do it:
- Turn the gas control knob on top to the “pilot” setting.
- To turn on the gas, press and hold down the control knob.
- In order to start the ignition, press and hold the electronic spark button on your control module or forward until you hear it click. The pilot may take a few seconds to light as there may be a little air in the line that takes a few seconds to “bleed” out.
- After you’ve confirmed ignition with the eyes, hold down the knob for approximately 30-45 seconds so that the pilot can heat up the thermocouple sufficiently to confirm ignition to the thermostat in the control module. If it doesn’t get hot enough, the pilot will return.
- Remove your grip on the control knob and make sure the pilot stayed lit.
- Turn the gas control knob to “on.” If the pilot was out long enough for the water temperature to drop, the burners should light up within seconds. There may be no need for the burners to come on if the water hasn’t cooled. It’s not unusual for them not to fire up right away.
2. Pilot Light: How to Light an Opened One?
This is similar to a sealed combustion tank, but instead of having an electronic ignition light it for you, you will need to light the pilot yourself.
- Turn the gas control knob to the pilot position so that the notch in the dial is aligned with the gas supply button. You’ll be able to press the button all the way down as needed if you do this.
- Remove the burner compartment covers. Both should be easy to remove by lifting up and out.
- Remove the top of the chimney and insert your chosen flame source (lighter, match, etc.) into the chamber so that the flame is beneath the orifice of the pilot supply line and light it.
- Push and hold down the pilot gas supply button.
- Check to see whether the pilot is lit. If so, continue to hold down the pilot gas supply button for roughly 30-45 seconds to warm the thermocouple.
- Release the button and check again that the pilot stayed lit. If it did, congrats—you’re ready to fly!
- Turn the gas control knob to the “on” position.
- LP Propane GAS WATER HEATER PILOT ASSEMBLY AND THERMOCOUPLE
- STANDARD 24″ LENGTH total. Tubing and thermocouple length 22 inches
- FITS MANY WATER HEATERS ON THE MARKET BUT NOT ALL
- WARNING !!! ONLY QUALIFIED SERVICE PERSONEL SHOULD ATTEMPT TO REPAIR GAS EQUIPMENT
- Search for our 36″ pilot if you need a longer one.
Last update on 2022-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
When to Call a Professional?
Calling a professional plumber out to inspect your water heater is never a bad idea. While they’re examining your pilot light, they may also check up on the rest of your system. This is something that experts advise you to do at least once a year in order to prevent sediment accumulation and corrosion, as well as to extend the life of your water heater.
However, it is not always necessary to call a professional plumber to light a pilot light. The solution to this issue is usually as simple as performing the actions described above.
If you feel the issue is coming from your water heater’s thermocouple, however, you may want some assistance. A professional plumber will be able to replace or repair your thermocouple in a matter of minutes.
Should You be Concerned if the Light Goes Out?
In most cases, it is not dangerous if the water heater pilot light is turned off. This is due to the fact that contemporary gas-fueled water heaters have safety valves that close the supply of gas automatically when the pilot light goes out.
This is a vital safety feature, and if your water heater didn’t perform it, you’d be in danger of having a natural or propane gas leak that poses an explosion risk. However, this problem may be serious when the water heater is housed in an enclosed space.
If your pilot light goes out as a result of a lack of combustible air, it can cause carbon monoxide to build up in space. Carbon monoxide is extremely hazardous and has the potential to kill.
We recommend that you invest in a carbon monoxide detector, regardless of where your water heater is located. They are cheap and can be placed near your water heater. If the carbon monoxide levels reach hazardous levels, the detector will notify you.
Should You Check the Thermocouples?
Thermocouples are usually referred to as flame sensors in modern water heaters, although many water heaters have a standing pilot light that employs a thermocouple. In this situation, If the thermocouple is not functioning properly, the pilot light will not stay lit.
It’s conceivable that the thermocouple is unclean, misaligned, or damaged, but in many situations, it’s better to just replace it rather than attempt to fix it.
If you’re comfortable working with gas equipment and making do-it-yourself repairs, this project may be a good fit for you. You can learn more about it here. However, many homeowners choose to pay a professional plumber to complete the task for them.
Can You Turn Off a Pilot Light?
Turning off the pilot light of your water heater is usually not a problem. While this isn’t necessarily an issue, keep in mind that you won’t be able to access hot water after the tank has cooled.
In certain situations, turning off your pilot light makes sense. For example, experts often advise that you do so while on vacation. Turning off the pilot light of your water heater will save you money on your energy bill since it won’t keep the water hot when you’re gone.
Some people prefer to leave their water heater in the pilot position rather than fully extinguishing the pilot light. Despite the fact that the heater will continue to burn a tiny quantity of gas to keep the pilot lit, it will be less of a headache to turn on the water heater when you return since you won’t have to relight the pilot.
How often should you check the pilot light?
It’s generally a good idea to check the pilot light once a year. This will help prevent sediment accumulation and corrosion, as well as extend the life of your water heater. However, if you notice any problems with your pilot light, it’s best to call a professional plumber right away.
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