What is a Water Heater Pilot Light?
The pilot light of your water heater is a small lit flame. This flame serves to ignite your water heater’s gas burner.
The gas burner, in turn, raises the temperature of the water in your water heater’s tank before the hot water is distributed throughout your home’s plumbing system.
Where is a Water Heater’s Pilot Light Located?
Your water heater’s pilot light should be located on the outside of the water heater. When you are looking at the outside of your water heater, look for a pipe that enters the water heater tank from the outside.
This pipe is the gas pipe, and your water heater’s pilot light should be located at the place where the gas pipe enters the water heater. The location of the pilot light should be recognizable by the gas knob—which is usually red—that is located on the surface of a metal box attached to the outside of the water heater. The flame that lights the pilot light should either be already exposed or will be visible once you open the door of the pilot light cover.
What Does it Mean When Your Water Heater Pilot Light Goes Out?
The pilot light of your water heater is what controls whether or not the water in your water heater’s tank gets heated. When your water heater pilot light goes out, the water in your water heater’s tank will not get hot and hot water will not flow through your home plumbing system. That means, when the pilot light is off, you will have no hot water for hot showers, no hot water to wash dishes, etc. etc.
Fortunately, when your water heater pilot light goes out, it’s usually fairly simple to reignite it on your own. It is a relief to know that your water heater pilot light going out doesn’t necessarily mean that there is anything wrong with your water heater or your plumbing system. In fact, the most common cause for a pilot light unexpectedly going out is a natural change in gas pressure that extinguishes the pilot light flame.
How to Light an Extinguished Water Heater Pilot Light
The process of reigniting your water heater’s pilot light after it goes out unexpectedly is actually pretty simple. It requires no tools except possibly a lighter—and maybe not even that, depending on the type of water heater you have.
First, you need to access the pilot light burner. It might be exposed already, or you might have to open a cover to reach it. Either way, your water heater pilot light should be located near the water heater’s gas knob underneath its gas valve.
Once you have the pilot light cover open—if your water heater has one—find the burner. You might need a flashlight for this step. Look out for two small gas tubes, which should lead directly to the pilot light burner. After you have located the pilot light burner, turn the gas knob from “Off” to “Pilot”. Be careful with this step, because gas will flow once you turn the knob to “Pilot”.
To actually light the pilot light flame, you may need a long lighter. If your water heater has an igniting button—usually the button is either red or black—you can press that to ignite the flame. If your water heater does not have an igniting button, light the burner using a long lighter—like the kind you use to light a candle.
Finally, hold the gas knob down for a full minute before slowly releasing it to make sure the flame stays lit. Then, turn the gas knob to “On” and replace the pilot light cover as soon as you hear a “Whoosh” sound. This sound signals that the water heater’s main burner has been ignited and hot water will soon be flowing through your home plumbing system once again.
While your water heater pilot light going out is most commonly just a result of a natural change in gas pressure, there are many different less common problems that can cause a pilot light to go out. Depending on the root cause of the extinguished flame, reigniting your water heater pilot light is not always possible on your own. If the methods detailed in this post do not work for you or if your water heater pilot light going out is a recurring problem, give a professional plumbing company in your area a call.
If you are located in Southern California, give Accurate Leak Locators and Plumbing a call today. Accurate Leak Locators and Plumbing is a family-owned, professional leak location and plumbing service company that proudly serves customers throughout the Inland Empire, San Diego County, Orange County, Los Angeles, and beyond with any and every plumbing and leak location issue.