How to Light the Pilot Lights on Your Water Heaters in 5 Easy Steps

How to Light the Pilot Lights on Your Water Heaters in 5 Easy Steps

There are many reasons why the pilot light of your water heater may go out. You can restart the pilot lights on your water heaters with these five simple steps:

Step 1: Locate the Cover of the Pilot Light

This cover is generally found directly beneath the gas valve. When you open it, you should be able to see the burner, which is typically lit by the pilot light.

Step 2: Switch Off the Fuel Supply

You must begin by ensuring that the fuel supply to your water heater is switched off. Firstly, find the regulator valve for the fuel supply of your heater. It is generally located outside the water heater, near the entry point of your heater's primary fuel pipeline. Turn off this valve and give it a minimum of five minutes for any residual gas to dissipate.

Step 3: Spot the Pilot Light on Your Water Heater

Your water heater's pilot light is generally located beneath your unit's water tank. To gain access, you may have to remove the access panel. Alternatively, the pilot light may be hidden at the back of a glass panel in the newer units.

The pilot light's casing should resemble a little silver tube. If you see a flame at the terminal point of this tube, the pilot light of your water heater is already working. You should contact a plumber to determine any other issues with the water heater.

Step 4: Inspect for Gas Leaks

In this step, you should check twice to ensure no residual gas or gas leaks. Restart the pilot light of your water heater only after you have ensured that there is no gas escaping from the unit.

You can use an easy sniff test to confirm this. Even though natural gas does not have any smell, gas companies mix a chemical known as mercaptan to make it detectable in an incidence of a leak.

The smell of leaking gas will be similar to that of sulfur or rotten eggs. Check further for leaks near pipes, valves, or fastening points around the water heater. Also, keep an ear out for a hissing sound, which could signify a gas leak.

If you detect even the faint smell of gas, evacuate the house quickly and contact your plumber to seek advice on what you should do next. If there is a strong odor of gas, call 911 and report a possible gas leak in your residence. When leaving the house, don't turn on or off any light switches, because this result in sparks that could lead to a fire. Open the windows.

Step 5: Turn on the Hot Water Heater's Pilot Light

Set the regulator valve to pilot and hold down the button. Now, provide a spark to relight the pilot light using a long-nosed lighter. Avoid using a cigarette lighter or a matchstick because you risk scorching your hand. In the newer models, a black or red "ignition" button is present, and pushing it will relight your pilot light.

Upon igniting the pilot light, make sure the pressure on the regulator valve is maintained for more than a minute. After this, gradually open the regulator valve and check if the pilot light remains lit. Once you have ensured that the pilot light remains lit, turn on the regulator valve and replace the pilot light cover. 

Working with natural gas can be frightening. However, these simple steps can help you safely relight your water heater's pilot light. If you are still not confident about working on your own, you can call a professional for help.