Water heater pilot not staying lit


Are you frustrated because the water heater pilot light won't stay lit? This is not only irritating but troublesome as well. The unlit pilot light can turn your comforting hot morning shower into a nightmare. After all, having a shower with not-so-warm water is the least that you would expect at the start of the day!

There could be numerous reasons as to why the pilot lights have gone out of order in your water heater. However, if you could understand the weirdness behind the unlit pilot light, then you will be able to prevent such a situation in future.

In this article, we are going to discuss the six probable reasons that might lead to an out-of-order pilot light. And further, how you can fix it. Without beating around the bush, let's begin with our list.


The majority of the water heaters that are present at homes today are based on a thermocouple which heats the water when turned on. This...

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A pilot light that won’t stay lit is more than frustrating. Not only does it prevent a furnace from operating properly, but an unlit pilot can also steal away the comforts of a hot morning shower. Unfortunately, there are a variety of reasons why pilot lights go out, all of which are dependent on a number of factors. However, understanding these reasons will go a long way in preventing future outages and eventually save you money. Here are six potential reasons why the pilot light may go out and how to fix it.

1. Obstructed Thermocouple

Most water heaters operate with a thermocouple. This device is central to the operation and can tell if the pilot light is on or off by an electrical current that is powered by the pilot’s heat. Whenever the thermocouple detects an unlit pilot, it turns off the gas as a safety precaution. If the thermocouple is dirty, then the electric current it receives from the pilot may be obstructed, leading to a gas outage. To fix this, simply...

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Edner Toussaint: Why the water heater is warm but not hot give me cause of probeme

C Walker: It's a water heater, hot water heater

Sanchez Jaime: If the issue still??????

Klear Sideris: Wow!

Richard Cadway: Excellent video - I would just add that you could have left the meter connected and used a butane lighter to heat the thermocouple to be sure it was good before reassembling - more important for an older thermocouple.

Rahat Arif: God bless you man ! You saved my $$$ !!!

recipientsnotnamed: Hi - I am trying to replace the thermocouple on an old gas water heater. I am having difficulty removing the burner assembly from the thermostat/gas valve fixture on the outside of the tank. I can't get the bolt on the pilot tube loose. The bolt seems to be a soft metal and now has a bunch of nicks, etc. from me trying to remove it. Questions: 1) Can this be a "left-handed thred screw" situation where you must turn the bolt CLOCKWISE to LOOSEN? 2) Should I be...

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Are you a Las Vegas homeowner who's having issues with your water heater? Call the Cooling Company at 702-567-0707. We'll answer all of your questions and get to the source of the problem.

When confronted with icy showers, most homeowners assume that the pilot light on their water heater has gone out. We understand the frustration when the pilot light won't stay lit no matter how many times you try to light it. In such cases, how can you get your pilot light to stay lit so that you can get back into your morning routine?

Related: Why Am I Constantly Losing Hot Water?

Reasons Your Water Heater Pilot Light Won't Stay Lit

When your water heater's pilot light won't stay lit, the appliance's thermocouple is the likely culprit. This tiny part can hinder the pilot light for several reasons.

The Thermocouple Has a Bent Rod

Your water heater's thermocouple acts as a safety mechanism by using a temperature sensor to prevent explosions or...

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Brett Miller wrote:

Chances are the second one was OK so that does tend to suggest it may be something else, but if it were mine, I would try a new thermocouple. Bring the original old one into the store and ask for a replacement. My money is still on the thermocouple. However the following quote from RP is correct.

"Could be a bad electrical connection, could be a faulty gas valve, could be a weak thermocouple (depending upon the type of system used), could be a lazy pilot flame, or it could be insufficient gas pressure."

BTW 6 years old is not old under most conditions. However a cheap tank or bad water conditions could mean that a six year old tank has reached the end of the line, but nothing you have mentioned has suggested that.

I think I would consider replacing the tank in the old home. It will make perspective buyers happy to see a new tank they can trust. I would also not consider removing parts from the old one to use on the...

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Write / Read Reviews

Troubleshooting pilot light problems on gas water heaters. How to fix the water heater when the light goes out, does not light, won't stay lit, pilot flame is too small or too large.

To prevent problems with the water heater pilot light, it is crucial that you read the manufacturer instructions carefully; how to maintain gas water heaters and how to light the pilot. Otherwise, if the pilot light is not functioning properly, you won't have hot water. Note that most of the older and economy gas water heaters are equipped with the pilot, while newer advanced models utilize a hot surface igniter which is more durable and reliable.

Note: Pilot light repair shouldn't be complicated, but if you don't have the right tools and skills, or need an assistance, contact a plumber.

Instructions for repair

Things to consider

It is important to understand when troubleshooting the pilot light problems that gas heaters are equipped with...

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A water heater pilot light is used to ignite the gas that heats the water. You may go for a long time and not realize that your pilot light has been faithfully serving you.

When the pilot light stops working you do not have hot water. Then you notice. A malfunctioning pilot light may be a sign of another problem. It could be that it just needs to be lit again.

There are (4) Key Topics related to this subject. (1) Why it is important to 'Following the Instructions', (2) 'Using an Ingnitor' to light your pilot light, (3) 'Manually Lighting a Pilot Light' and (4) Other pilot light issues like the 'Thermocouple' or the 'Gas Valve' may need some additional attention. Use one of these links to find what you need or read the overview below.

Don't they have electronic ignition systems that will just light the gas when needed? Yes, they do. Most gas furnaces have such a system. Why don't water heaters? They do, but it is a matter of cost. A high efficiency hot water...

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Gas heaters, whether they warm up air or water in a home, rely on a pilot light to trigger the flame of the actual heater. If this pilot light ever goes out, the heater has no way of actually turning on to heat the water or air that your particular type of heater circulates to warm the house or other elements. Knowing how to maintain the heater and troubleshoot the everyday type of issues with pilot lights will help you avoid costly repairs.

Corroded Pilot Tip

Gas is funneled to the tip of a pilot light via a supply line that is connected to a natural gas or propane supply. As the gas passes through the tip of the pilot light, it is ignited by the action of the pilot light, which is either electronic or manual. Over time, this tip can become corroded with soot and residue, blocking the gas from exiting the tip. It must be cleaned to operate at full capacity. A toothbrush works well, but you can also run a piece of flexible wire in and out of the orifices on the tip...

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When you say flame is blue, I presume you mean the pilot light while you are holding down the start button - which means you are getting gas OK to the gas controller and the pilot.I presume the flame is steady and not wavering all around, which fails to keep the thermocouple hot enough to work. The flame should be about 3/4-1 inch tall in most furnaces - if a tiny flame, you might have to adjust the pilot gas flow a bit higher - google for the owners manual for your model at the manufacturers website or a site like Sears.

I presume you know it can take up to a minute or so for the thermocouple to heat enough to keep the flame going when you release the start button ? So hold the button down for at least a minute after lighting the pilot before releasing the start button.

Is the thermocouple tip sticking 1/3-1/2 its length into the blue of the flame ? If only the very tip is in, or only into the very pale almost transparent green-blue-red base of the flame, then the...

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We have a Rheem model 41V40-40F (mfg 11/2003) where the pilot light went out the other night. Re-lit, turned back on the burner fired and immediately went out.

Could not get the pilot to light again; waited ~ 10 & tried again, pilot lit and when turned on had a small KaBoom in the chamber from apparent gas build-up...

Figured I'm done and call the home warranty company (just bought the house 8 mos ago - home warranty provided w/ purchase).
Plumber that was dispatched tried was quick to access as an air flow problem with the heater (vent stack seams clear) and recommends a NEW unit.
My out of pocket after adding all the items NOT covered by the warranty is $470.00 for items such as:
$150 for permit (actual cost here is $65)
$90 for a pan (required for code even though we have no drain; what's new? ~ $15 retail?)
$50 for new gas valve (ball valve)
$45 for gas flex line (new looks excellent; don't mind new, but dang... $$$)


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