How to relight the pilot light in your Water Heater

By Thornton Plumbing and Heating

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Blog Highlights:

  • In most cases, water heaters made before 2002 will need to be lit using a match
  • New water heater models are equipped with electric spark generators that you can use to light the pilot with just a press of a button
  • Call the gas company right away if you start to smell gas coming from the water heater

Gas type water heaters all use a pilot light in order to ignite the gas burners that will heat up the tank when hot water is needed. But sometimes, the pilot light goes out because of unexpected fluctuations in the gas pressure. If this happens, cold water will run out of the hot water tap. Fortunately, you can actually relight the pilot on your own.

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Typically, natural gas water heaters that are manufactured before 2002 needs to be lit using a match. If you want to light it on your own, you will need to check the heating system’s manual so you can be guided accordingly.

Here are the basic steps that you will need to follow:

  • At the bottom of the tank, you need to find and remove the inner and outer doors.
  • Trace the gas lines so you can easily locate where the pilot light is
  • Make sure that the control knob has been set to “pilot”
  • Press and hold the pilot button while you light it with a match
  • The pilot button has to be pressed down for at least a minute while the temperature control is set all the way down
  • As soon as you see the blue pilot flame, you can then release the button
  • Turn the temperature back to your preferred setting and check to see if the burner has ignited

For those who have water heaters built after 2002, you will not have to relight the pilot with a match simply because these models have an electric spark generator installed. The electric spark generator is similar to those found on stoves and gas grills. Just turn the gas valve to “pilot” and then press down. You can then press the ignition button for the pilot light. If you hear a click, turn on the gas valve so you can light up the burner.

If you smell gas coming out of your water heater, you should avoid relighting the pilot on your own even if you have a new model. Call your gas company right away and try to open windows located near the heater. Never light a match or create any spark so you can avoid fires or explosions.

Relighting the heater’s pilot is easy, just keep in mind that you have to follow the unit’s manual carefully so you can avoid accidents. If you do not know how to do it properly, you should consider hiring a handyman or calling a technician to do it for you.

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