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water heater pilot light cold water

Your Pilot Light: What to Do When the Flame Dies

If you have noticed a lack of hot water lately and you think that the love, we mean shower, has run cold, don’t worry! The flame might have gone out, but it’s not impossible to relight. We’re talking about your pilot light here. The pilot light is a small flame that continuously burns in order to light a larger gas burner when necessary. In this circumstance, the pilot light on your water heater is kept alive to crank up the heat in your tank when it is below the temperature you have it set at. If the pilot light goes out, your water heater will not be able to ignite and your water will be ice cold. 


There are a few different scenarios that may lead to the extinguishing of your pilot light. Some of these are easier to fix than others, and all of them can be assisted with by our expert technicians


A thermocouple senses when your pilot light is lit. When your pilot light goes out, it immediately shuts off the gas supply so that it will not continue running without feeding into the flame. When water heaters start to age, however, the thermocouple can malfunction, resulting in the gas supply being cut off even with the pilot light is still it. 


Thermocouples can also experience issues if there is a buildup of dirt or debris or if it has been bent or moved away from its original placement. In either of these scenarios, it becomes more difficult for the thermocouple to sense whether the pilot light is lit or not, and may have to tendency to turn off the gas supply even if the light is still lit. 


Sometimes the pilot light can be blown out if it is exposed to drafts or breezes. If there is no sealed combustion chamber, your pilot light can be easily exposed to these elements, and may have a harder time staying lit. 


Water heaters that are located in closed off spaces such as small utility closets may not have combustible air readily accessible. Without this airflow, the pilot light may be extinguished. 

pilot light water heater


Not having hot water due to your pilot light being out can be a frustrating situation to be in, and we know you want to get it fixed as soon as possible. We offer 24/7 emergency services that can assist you with this if it happens. If you want to attempt to relight it on your own, there are usually instructions listed on the water heater itself. Generally, the process goes something like this:

  • Adjust the thermostat down to the lowest setting
  • Turn the on/off/pilot switch to “pilot”
  • Remove the panels to access the pilot light
  • If your water heater has a pilot button, hold this down and use a long lighter to reignite the flame. If your water heater doesn’t have a pilot button, simply proceed with lighting. 
  • Once the flame is lit, continue to hold down the pilot button (if applicable) for another minute and ensure that the pilot light is fully lit and burning blue. 
  • Put the access panels back on and readjust the thermostat temperature to the previous setting. 

If you attempt to light your pilot light yourself and it does not work, or if you don’t wish to bother with it, contact our expert technicians. We would love to help!

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