Have you ever been in a situation where the pilot light keeps going out on water heater? And then you’re left with no choice but to have a cold bath?
Known as the soul of a water heater, the pilot light can be very tricky and frustrating sometimes.
Every machine has its own problems, but fear not! Every problem has its solution too.
You don’t have to wake up in the morning to have a cold bath anymore. This article offers some easy solutions that will keep your pilot light warm and burning.
Why Does Pilot Light Go Out On Water Heater?
So, what happens when the pilot light on the water heater won’t stay lit?
There are many reasons for which a situation like the above may occur. To fix the issue, you need to look for the particular reason that is causing your pilot light to die out.
If you’re planning to look into your heater all by yourself, please do take precautionary measures!
First, ensure that the gas supply to your water heater is turned off. Then wait for 5 minutes to let your water heater cool down.
Done? Okay, let’s get to troubleshooting. Below are the reasons that may cause your pilot light issue:
- Dirty Pilot Tube
If your water heater light goes out every few days, dirt buildup in your pilot tube can be one of the very reasons.
It is a very common problem with water heaters to have a clogged pilot tube due to long-time usage. As time passes by, dirt may build up in the pilot tube and cause blockage to the gas supply.
What is the solution? The trick can be done by doing a thorough cleaning of the tube.
You can use a slender needle, in this case, to unclog the tube in a gentle way. Sometimes the tube can be very dirty. In that case, you have to clean it several times with patience to make a clear passage in the tube.
- Thermocouple Issues
The thermocouple is known as the brain of a water heater appliance.
When your water heater burner won’t stay lit, a dirty or faulty thermocouple can be the root cause of the problem.
It works by turning off the gas valve when its sensors detect that the pilot light is off.
When an electric flow of current is released by the Pilot Light, the thermocouple starts acting.
It works as a safety measure to prevent gas leakage.
- Dirty Thermocouple
Layers of dirt and filth can prevent the current from flowing to the thermocouple. Without a thorough cleaning, the pilot light will stop working because of a gas supply hindrance.
First, ensure that the gas supply is switched off and wait some minutes for cooling the thermocouple down. After it’s cool, inspect the thermocouple to find out if it’s dirty or not. Then use new sandpaper to brush off all the dirt and filth if there’s any.
- Kinked Thermocouple
Why does pilot light go out on water heater even after cleaning the thermocouple?
Sometimes the thermocouple can be in a misplaced position, or it can be slightly bent. Because of that, the pilot light can stop lighting up.
The thermocouple needs to be placed and bent towards the pilot light, otherwise, it will not receive heat to enable the gas valve.
What’s the solution? Once the heater and gas supply are turned off and the thermocouple has cooled down, you will need to manually place the thermocouple back to its proper position. Place it near the Pilot Light by bending or straightening it.
- Broken Thermocouple
You’ve done cleaning and bending your thermocouple, and still, your hot water heater pilot won’t light up? In this case, your thermocouple might be broken. There’s no other way to fix a broken thermocouple without replacing it.
If you wish to check if your thermocouple is broken or not, you have to use a multimeter to run a diagnostic checkup. In the checkup, if your thermocouple reading is lower than 20MV, your thermocouple is broken, and you have to replace it.
If your product has its warranty valid, you can try to take it to the manufacturer.
- Dirty Pilot Orifice
Your water heater pilot light won’t stay lit even after replacing the thermocouple? Well, it could be the pilot orifice. A pilot orifice controls the amount of gas being supplied to the pilot light of a water heater.
They are made with strict tolerances, so a very tiny amount of dust can hamper the entire system of the pilot light.
When your pilot light is lit even for a moment, you should try to observe the color of its flame. If you see a weak yellowish flame instead of a deep blue flame, your pilot orifice might be clogged with dirt.
A weaker yellow flame means that the thermocouple will not work properly.
How do you fix this? This is very tricky work as you have to disassemble the entire pilot light to clean out the dirt. There is a chance that you might end up damaging the parts of your water heating system.
So, it’s better if you contact a technician to help you out.
- Flex Tube Issues
The gas controller connecting to the burner via a long tube is called the flex tube. The burner contains the Pilot Light and thermocouple along with other important parts of the water heater.
If the flex tube is clogged with dirt or damaged, the gas supply will be hindered. However, flex tube issues are very rare, so you have to check your thermocouple first and make sure it is working properly in a good condition.
In order to fix the flex tube, first, sort out all the twists on the tube and search for any visible damages that can cause gas leakage. If there is a gas leakage, it is greatly lowering the gas amount going to the burner.
- Defective Thermostatic Control
Issues with the thermostatic control can be the root cause of problems with the pilot light.
Thermostatic control or main control valve is called the soul of your water heater appliance. The thermostatic control handles temperature adjustment and water temperature monitoring. It also controls the heater’s gas and water compulsion.
If everything else is okay but the pilot light is still being problematic with the fire, the thermostatic control might be faulty. You can call a professional technician to replace it.
- Bad Electrical Wiring
Faults with electrical wiring are a common problem with water heaters. Maintaining proper electrical wiring is very important for the heating appliance. You can hire a professional technician to install electrical wirings for your water heater.
If you notice any possible problem with your electrical wiring system, do not fiddle with it. Immediately turn off your heating appliance and contact a technician to fix the problem.
- Bad Gas Regulator
If your home’s natural gas meter has a faulty gas regulator, it can affect all the gas-based appliances in your house. That may include your stove, furnace, heater etcetera.
Because of a bad gas regulator, your heating appliance will not receive enough supply of gas to light up its flames. In this scenario, you can do nothing but immediately call your utility company to fix the issues.
- Improper Airflow
Strong wind or air can be the cause of your pilot light going out. Problems with the ventilation can cause the wind to leak into the water heater appliance and blow the flames out.
This can be a conundrum when you want to enjoy the wind. To fix this, look for leaks in the out duct of your water heater appliance. Make sure your flue pipe is set up properly and your system is venting just fine.
- Fluctuating Natural Gas Availability
Your water heating system runs on the natural gas that is supplied to your house. When you have tried almost everything and still can’t find the reason for your pilot light going out, the problem might be with your natural gas supply.
Sometimes in a locality when the supply of natural gas has reached its limits due to mass consumption, the gas grid may go out of its capacity. In this case, you will face very low gas pressure.
You have to rely on your utility company to fix this problem. Moreover, asking people in your locality can help you determine if there’s actually a problem with the natural gas supply.
Watch this video to understand all the above issues and find the perfect solution.
As you have seen, replacing thermocouple can fix the pilot light. Let’s talk about it now…
Can You Replace A Thermocouple By Yourself?
Most of the types replacing or fixing a thermocouple is the best solution for a malfunctioning pilot light. Now the question is can you do it yourself, or do you need professionals?
Well, in reality, you can do it yourself. But there are some instances when you should opt for a professional rather than doing it yourself.
So, when not replace the thermocouple by yourself?
If you have a gas water heater with a closed burner chamber, you should avoid doing it yourself because it’s quite hard to access when the burner chamber is a closed one. In this case, professional help can be the smarter solution rather than taking the risk yourself.
Aside from this situation, you can replace the thermocouple yourself and save up some money on that labor cost. Typically, a thermocouple costs you around $20, but when you go for professional repair, it can go up to $150. And that’s a big difference in the cost for sure.
Don’t worry; I won’t leave you hanging there. I will take you through the whole process of replacing the thermocouple by yourself step by step. So, let’s get going.
How To Replace The Thermocouple By Yourself?
To replace the thermocouple, all you have to do is gather some tools and materials and follow the steps below. Let’s take a look at the tools and material you will need for the job.
- A screwdriver, preferably a 4-in-1
- Wrench set
- An adjustable wrench
Gather these tools right away, and follow the steps I am sharing below:
- First of all, you have to turn the shutoff valve off that goes to the gas line. You will turn it only one quarter and ensure the handle is facing right, relative to the pipe.
- Then, you have to turn your control valve off. After that, remove the cover of the burner to get access to the pilot, gas, and thermocouple lines.
- Once you are in there, you have to unscrew all the screws from everything.
- After unscrewing everything, you have to pull out the pilot light assembly. Then, remove the old thermocouple. For that, you might need to unscrew it or pull it out.
- Make sure you have got a new thermocouple of the correct length and size. Then, you have to install the new thermocouple on your system. You do the reverse of removing the old one, either push the thermocouple in or screw it in the same place.
- Then, put the pilot light assembly back in its place just the way it was.
- Now, reattach all three lines back to the control valve. In short, whatever you removed a little while ago, you have to put them back as they were.
- When you are threading the nuts into place, make sure not to tighten them too much. As most of the metals are soft, they can break easily.
- After reattaching everything, the most important step is to test the whole setup. You should be testing it for any possible gas leaks. To do that, you have to open the shutoff valve and ignite the pilot light. Then turn on the control valve.
- Now, you have to use a mixture of soap and water to identify any leaks on the joints of the screws. If you see bubbles popping up, it means there are leaks in that place. Fix these issues, then test the whole thing again.
As you can tell by now, this isn’t super difficult to do. However, it does require some form of expertise with DIY repair work.
So, if you are not confident in doing all these, you should opt for a professional because these things require steadiness and care to perform.
How Does The Pilot Light Work?
Pilot Light is a small type of gas burner. You will generally find in domestic gas-lit appliances such as heaters, furnaces, and gas fireplaces. Natural gas or petroleum gas is usually used in this type of gas burner.
When you turn on your appliance, the Pilot Light ignites the gas within the main burner and starts generating heat. Generally, a Pilot Light is alight at most times for the appliance to work. So, when your pilot light is faulty, it can cause your appliance to not function.
As time passes by your water heater is likely to worn out and become inefficient. Normally, a water heater can keep going on for 10 years and so. But even some silly issues can hamper the life of your heater, it’s very common.
Look for the above-mentioned problems to know why the pilot light keeps going out on water heater. Try the suggested troubleshooting ways, you are likely to find your solution.
If your warranty for the heater is valid, you should rather resort to the manufacturer. They will fix the issue for free or even replace the appliance for you.