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Troubleshooting a Flickering Water Heater Pilot with Ease

A flickering water heater pilot light is an issue no homeowner wants to deal with. After all, what to do if the water heater pilot won’t stay lit? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps to troubleshoot and fix a stubborn pilot light, ensuring you never have to endure an icy shower again.

What Causes a Water Heater Pilot to Go Out

Before we dive into the troubleshooting process, let’s explore some common culprits behind a flickering or extinguished pilot light. Understanding the root cause will help you address the issue more effectively.

One of the main reasons a pilot light won’t stay lit is a disruption in the gas supply. This could be due to a faulty gas control valve, a blocked gas line, or even a simple case of the gas being turned off accidentally. Additionally, a dirty or clogged pilot orifice can prevent the proper flow of gas, causing the flame to sputter and eventually go out.

Another potential issue is a downdraft or draft in the area surrounding the water heater. This can cause the pilot flame to flicker and eventually extinguish. Downdrafts can be caused by various factors, such as improper venting, nearby windows or doors, or even the operation of other appliances in the vicinity. Exhaust fans, fireplaces, and air conditioning units can also contribute to downdraft problems.

what to do if water heater pilot won't stay lit

Lastly, a faulty thermocouple or thermopile could be the reason your pilot light keeps going out. These components are responsible for detecting the presence of the pilot flame and signaling the gas control valve to keep the gas flowing. If they become damaged, misaligned, or coated with debris, the gas supply will be shut off, and the pilot will not stay lit.

Troubleshooting Steps for a Flickering Pilot Light

Now that you understand the potential causes, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Here are the detailed steps you should follow to troubleshoot a flickering or extinguished pilot light:

  1. Start by turning off the gas supply to the water heater. Safety should always come first when dealing with gas appliances. Locate the gas control valve and turn it to the “off” position.
  2. Remove the panel covering the pilot light assembly. This will give you better access to the components you’ll be working with. Consult your water heater’s manual for specific instructions on how to remove the panel safely.
  3. Inspect the pilot orifice for any debris or blockages. Use a small wire brush or compressed air to gently clear any obstructions from the orifice.
  4. Check the thermocouple or thermopile for proper positioning. Ensure it’s aligned correctly with the pilot flame when lit, and that there is no significant buildup of soot or debris on the component.
  5. If the thermocouple or thermopile appears damaged or worn, it may need to be replaced. Consult a professional for assistance with this task.
  6. If everything looks clear, turn the gas supply back on and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for relighting the pilot light. This typically involves pressing the pilot light button while holding a flame to the pilot orifice.

If the pilot light stays lit after following these steps, congratulations! You’ve successfully resolved the issue. However, if the pilot continues to flicker or go out, there may be a more significant problem at hand, such as a faulty gas control valve or a downdraft issue.

Preventing Future Water Heater Pilot Light Issues

While troubleshooting is essential, it’s even better to prevent pilot light problems from occurring in the first place. Here are some proactive measures you can take:

When to Call a Professional for Pilot Light Problems

While many pilot light issues can be resolved with some basic troubleshooting, there are situations where it’s best to call in a professional. Here are a few instances when you should seek expert assistance:

When working with gas appliances like water heaters, safety should always be your top priority. Here are some essential precautions to keep in mind:

By following these safety guidelines and troubleshooting steps, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle a flickering water heater pilot with ease, ensuring your home stays warm and comfortable without any unexpected cold showers. Remember, when in doubt, always prioritize safety and seek professional assistance for complex or potentially dangerous issues.