How To Light Your Water Heater
Reasons Why A Pilot Might Go Out
Without a pilot light, the main burner for the gas heater which heat’s up any water that’s in the tank, can’t work. Many will be ready to take a bath or shower, and when only cold water is coming from the hot water tap, that’s one of the first signs people find that advises them that the pilot has gone out. By this point, it’s likely that the pilot has been out for hours if the water has been allowed to get cold.
Sometimes, the pilot may go out when no one is at home, and that’s why it was never discovered that the pilot was out until they try to use the hot water. Relighting the pilot is the mission, but why did it go out in the first place? It’s possible that there might be a malfunction with the equipment in the heater, such as the thermocouple, but also, be open to the possibility that the gas main has had pressure fluctuations, which can allow the pilot to go out. Finding out the problem should be a priority, especially if it’s something that can easily happen again.
Relight The Pilot With Or Without Help?
Relighting the pilot is something many can do, but it’s better to first determine if help is needed or not. Some may get the help of someone else to relight the pilot, but the best choice is to get an Abingdon plumber out to do the relighting of the pilot. Although some may feel this isn’t necessary, consider this. A plumber is licensed and insured to maintain as well as repair water heaters, so they’ll have all the knowledge necessary to determine why the pilot went out, they'll know if the problem can be fixed and how quickly the problem can be fixed.
Even though it may be a simple case of getting the pilot relit, if there are issues other than fluctuations of gas pressure, then you’ll have to call out a plumber anyway to fix the heater, so having the plumber come out to check the heater as well as relighting it is a good choice.
Do All The Necessary Safety Checks
Safety should always be in the back of the mind of anyone who is relighting a pilot, especially because of the fact that gas can be a dangerous thing. Those who have a problem with the thermocouple in the heater may not know it, and a broken or malfunctioning thermocouple can allow gas to leak, which obviously can cause an explosion, among other problems.
The thermocouple senses when the pilot is lit, and if it becomes unlit, then it’s supposed to automatically shut off the gas to the pilot, which keeps the room from filling up with gas. If the thermocouple isn’t working as it should, then walking into the room should automatically trigger the smell of gas, and in this case, it’s best to leave immediately and contact the gas company.
If a faint smell of gas is detected only when going near the heater, then this is normal, especially if the pilot only just went out, or the access panel to the pilot has been opened. Before doing anything, always check for any gas leaks, especially since it’s the best thing for the safety of everyone in the home.
Steps To Relighting The Pilot
Open the access panel to determine that the pilot has gone out. There may not be a panel but a pane of glass that allows someone to see the pilot and to see that the light is out on the pilot.
The heaters that allow site of the pilot but not access to it are newer types of gas heaters, and these simply have an electric spark igniter for the pilot, which means that a simple button, which is red or black, can be pushed, and then it will ignite the pilot again after several other steps are followed. This is similar to someone cooking on a gas grill and turning on the gas but pressing an igniter button to light the gas without the use of fire. This is a much simpler way to relight the pilot, so it’s been added to the newer gas heaters.
The pilot on older heaters must be manually lit with fire.
Before doing anything, turn off the gas valve, which will cut off gas to the heater. Wait at least 5-10 minutes before proceeding. After the air is cleared of any smell of gas, make sure to turn the temperature gauge for the heater down to low. In some cases, there is a regulator valve, which has to be pushed to bring gas to the pilot. In other models of heaters, it’s necessary to turn and hold down the gas knob to bring gas to the pilot.
In order to know exactly how the pilot will be relit, read the instructions that are on the heater. If the instructions are not on the heater, then look for a small door or panel that opens out, which should have the instructions inside. Once the instructions are found, recite them before moving forward, and don’t ignore any instruction because they are meant specifically for that heater. Those that have to relight the pilot with fire must get a wand lighter that has a long reach of at least a few inches or more.
This type of lighter is best to use because it prevents the person who’s lighting the pilot from having to put their hand into the small area where the pilot is, which can easily cause the person to get burned.
After getting the wand lighter, go to the gas valve and turn it to the “pilot” setting, and either press down on the knob if it allows for it, or press down on the regulator valve. This is something that must be done for a full minute; holding down the regulator valve or gas knob while putting light to the pilot. Do not release either the valve or the knob until at least a full minute passes, this should keep the pilot lit.
If the pilot doesn't stay lit, try repeating the process again, but if that doesn’t help, then consider cleaning around the pilot, and try it for the third time. If the pilot is lit and working correctly, then close off the access panel, and turn the gas to the “on” position. The main burner will relight to start warming up the water in the tank. Adjust the temperature of the tank to the desired setting.
Consider Water Heater Repair If It’s Needed
Those that go through all the necessary steps but still can’t get the pilot on their heater to relight may need to consider water heater repair. If a plumber is doing the relighting, then they should be able to troubleshoot any problems with the water heater to determine why the pilot continues to go out. Replacement parts may be necessary for water heater repair, but allowing an Abingdon plumber to maintain and repair the water heater should get it working correctly again.
Maintain or repair a water heater by calling PlumbCrazy at (410) 679-7575 in Abingdon, MD.