How To Light A Gas Hot Water Heater

How To Light A Gas Hot Water Heater

If you live in a home with a gas water heater and notice cold water coming from your hot water faucet, there’s a good chance your pilot light has gone out. Don’t worry: in most cases, you can relight a pilot without calling in a professional, and you’ll have hot water again in a few hours’ time. While having your heater’s instruction manual around is handy, it’s not entirely necessary, as most gas water heaters require a similar procedure for relighting the pilot light.

Identifying Your Water Heater

There are two basic styles of gas hot water heaters, “new” and “old.” Old style heaters will require you to use your own flame to relight the pilot, while new style tanks come equipped with a pilot light igniter. The exact look of the buttons on new style tanks may vary, but many have a red igniter button set a few inches away from the temperature and regulator valves.

How To Light An Automatic Water Heater

If you have a newer model of gas water heater with a simple ignition switch, the process is quite straightforward. First, turn off the gas by turning the knob labeled On/Off/Pilot to the Off position. Let any built-up gas dissipate for five minutes. Then, turn the water heat dial to Low and the On/Off/Pilot dial to Pilot. Push the igniter button and hold the Pilot dial downward for around 30 seconds. If the flame is lit, turn the dial from Pilot to On and adjust the water temperature dial to your desired setting.

How To Light A Manual Water Heater

For a manual water heater, you will need to use a long barbecue lighter. First, turn the knob on the box labeled On/Off/Pilot past Pilot to the Off position and wait for five minutes. Then, turn the water temperature dial to Low and the On/Off/Pilot dial to Pilot. While holding the Pilot dial downward, light the barbecue lighter and hold it over the end of the pipe by the burner. Keep pressing the Pilot dial downward for around 30 seconds and turn the dial from Pilot to On. Finally, set the water temperature dial to your desired temperature.

Precautions and Troubleshooting

It’s important to note that if the burner doesn’t light within a few seconds, you should start the process over to prevent gas build-up. If you smell gas or hear a hissing sound near the water heater, do not attempt to relight the pilot and call your gas company immediately. If the pilot light doesn’t relight or goes out immediately after relighting, you may have a bad thermocouple or low gas pressure, in which case, it’s best to contact a professional for assistance.


How do I light a newer model gas heater?
Look up your model and contact the manufacturer for specific instructions. Typically, the main difference between a modern heater and these instructions is that newer models have an electric igniter (click a button and it makes a spark) to light the pilot.

What do I call the device that I push down to make the spark to light the pilot?
You call it a “spark igniter.”

What do I do if the pilot light keeps going out on my water heater?
You will probably need to replace it. Contact a supplier or even the company that manufactured your water heater.

How do I turn off the pilot light?
Turn off the heater mode on your thermostat and then turn off the pilot light by finding the valve on your gas line and turning it to the off position.

How do I relight the pilot light?
Turn off your gas using the gas shut-off valve, wait about 10 minutes for any residual gas to clear, locate the pilot light, turn it on by pressing down, use a light to ignite the pilot light, turn the gas back on, and replace any covers.

How do I light the pilot of an electric water heater?
Check your tank, flip the switch in your breaker box, and wait for the water heater to kick back into action.

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