Having your gas water heater’s pilot light flame go out is an inconvenient and frustrating problem to face. When this happens, you’re left without hot water making something as simple as taking a shower irksome. Naturally, you wonder, “Why did this happen? Are there any tips or tricks to getting it started again? How do I get it repaired? What sort of costs can I expect?” Luckily, this is a common problem many homeowners face and the effort to repair is minimal.
If your water heater won’t stay lit and don’t know much about water heaters, let us walk you through common reasons why your water heater isn’t heating and how to solve this issue.
Why does the pilot light on my water heater keep going out?
Your water heater pilot light keeps going out due to issues with the heater’s thermocouple or access to combustible air.
Your thermocouple senses when your pilot light is burning. The tip of the thermocouple sits over the pilot flame, generating a voltage that keeps the gas valve open. If it senses that your water heater’s pilot light has gone out, the thermocouple will shift off the gas supply to the heater. Over time, thermocouples can malfunction, accumulate dust buildup, or the device can get bent away from the pilot light’s flame. In either case, the thermocouple will struggle to sense the pilot light and stop the gas supply.
Lack of Combustible Air
Another reason your gas water heater pilot light won’t stay lit could be due to not having enough combustible air. Your water heater requires air to keep the pilot light burning. Otherwise, the flame goes out. Ensure that the water heater is not surrounded by clutter, lint, or debris to increase the amount of combustible air. Keep the surrounding area as clean as possible.
What do I do if my pilot light keeps going out?
First, attempt to relight the flame on your own. Take these general steps:
- Find the gas shut-off knob and turn to the “Off” setting. This stops the flow of gas. Wait a few minutes for the gas to dissipate.
- Remove the access panel to access the burner.
- Turn the knob to “Pilot” to start the flow of gas. You’ll want to press and hold the knob down.
- While still holding the gas knob, light the pilot with a long lighter. If your gas water heater has an igniting button, press that instead.
- Once ignited, release and turn the gas knob to the “On” position and listen for the main burner to turn on.
If you can’t relight the pilot or continue to have repeated issues with the pilot light going out, consider the possibility of another issue, like a bad thermocouple.
Note: Refer to your water heater unit’s instruction manual.
Can I replace a thermocouple myself?
Yes. If you are DIY-inclined you may be able to replace the thermocouple yourself. To do so it’s easiest to shut off the gas valve and remove the whole burner and thermocouple assembly. Though if you have no clue how to do small repairs, it’s better and safer to call someone who does. A technician can also inspect your water heater for other issues and offer advice or tips towards any current/future problems.
Call BGE Home
If your water heater pilot light won’t light or keeps going out, give BGE Home a call at 410-918-5600 or reach us online. Our certified technicians are available 24/7 to come out, take a look, and recommend the best way to get your water heater working safely and efficiently.