Pilot light of water heaters problems, plumbing

Problems of the pilot light of water heaters Advice, House Plumbing Tips, Guide

How to deal with problems of the pilot light of water heaters?

28 Aug 2020

One of the most common problems encountered with gas-powered water heaters is that the pilot light that shows that the equipment is working keeps going off intermittently or doe not lit up at all. Therefore, knowing how to light a water heater pilot light that keeps going out, or won’t stay lit will ensure that you can attend to the problem on your own and save the money that you would have to spend for a plumber.

But before you start working to reignite the pilot light, you must know the reason for its going out. The thermocouple provides heat energy to water heaters, and whenever there is any problem with the thermocouple, it can throttle the gas supply to the light and shut it off. When the it goes off, it could be a sign of gas build up too.

Pilot light of water heaters problems
photo courtesy of pixabay

Besides problems with the thermocouple, there can be other reasons too for the malfunctioning pilot light.  Let us look at all the possible causes so that you know how to set things right.

Water Heater Pilot light Problems Guide

Dirty pilot tube

When dust and dirt collect inside the pilot tube, it chokes the gas supply, and the pilot lamp does not glow.  Even if you try to lit the light, it does not help because there is no gas to ignite. Before trying to repair the water heater, turn off the gas first and allow 5 minutes for the accumulated gas and fumes to disperse. Cleaning the tiny hole in the pilot lamp with a needle will restart the gas flow and resolve it. Light up the pilot light, and if it shows a blue flame indicates that things are back to normal.

Blocked thermocouple

Usually, the thermocouple is at fault for most water heater problems, especially when the pilot light goes out. The thermocouple picks up the electrical signal from the heat generated by the light to determine the activity of it. The signal interruption can happen due to the accumulation of dirt and dust particles on the thermocouple’s surface that tricks it into shutting off the gas supply.  Cleaning the surface of the thermocouple by rubbing gently with fine-grit sandpaper can restore normalcy.

Damaged thermocouple

Sometimes, the thermocouple sensor may bend so much that it goes far away from the pilot light and renders the unit dysfunctional. Check if the thermocouple sensor is away from the flame, and bending it back to bring it closer to the flame can solve the problem. If there are no signs of damage to the thermocouple, check with a multimeter to see if it is working. If it is damaged, then replacing it is the only option.

Main control valve

Suppose there is no problem detected with the delivery pilot tube and the thermocouple. In that case, the only other possibility for the pilot light not working could be that there is some problem with the main control valve.

Replacing the main control valve is the only way to get the water heater back to its working ways.

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