How to light a water heater pilot

No lesson in water heater repair is simpler than how to light a water heater pilot. The step by step instructions are literally on the tank itself. Water heater pilot flame, how to light a water heater pilot But gas hot water heaters scare many people who aren’t experienced do it yourselfers. In this article we’ll discuss why a water heater pilot goes out & how to light a water heater pilot light.

Water heater pilot failure

Let’s discuss why the water heater pilot went out before learning to relight a pilot light.


If your water heater is in a garage or basement close to the garage door, wind can blow down the flue and put out your pilot flame.

Each Spring I get calls from people who turned their attic fans on before opening windows & doors. This creates a strong flue draft & blows out the pilot flame.

Insufficient fuel gas

Plumbers love saying that. It makes them feel smart. It just means the water heater is in a confined space without enough air. If you build a room around your water heater and furnace you need to allow for enough air for a clean burning gas flame.


FVIR stands for flammable vapor ignition resistance. This is a built-in water heater safety mechanism that prevents the pilot light from igniting nearby flammable vapors. Flammable vapor ignition resistance, water heater safety It usually involves a fine screen through which the water heater gets air. This screen can get clogged with dust or lent. For more details about this go to Water Heater Flame Arrestors.

There’s also a water heater flammable vapor sensor on some models. Pool chemicals or paints can set it off & cause a pilot light to go out.

Thermal overload

A water heater thermal overload switch or high limit switch will shut the gas off to your gas valve if it senses excessive heat. A failed water heater gas valve will sometimes overheat the water and activate the thermal overload switch.

Leaking water heater

A leaking water heater will extinguish a pilot flame. This can be caused by a water pipe leak or ruptured hot water heater tank.

No gas

It happens. It’s easy to shut off your neighbors gas meter if you know how. And if you’ve ever moved you know that you can forget to call your gas utility company & have them turn on the gas. We all know they’ll shut it off if you don’t pay your gas bill.

How To light a water heater pilot

Locate the water heater gas regulator valve at the bottom of the tank to begin the process. Gas water heater gas control valveIt’s the square valve with the gas pipe going into it.

  • Turn the regulator valve knob to “pilot”. There are various styles. Look for the word pilot.
  • Push the knob in. There’s a “sweet spot” for this. You’re forcing gas through the water heater gas regulator valve & bypassing the safety’s.
  • While looking in the burner chamber, push the piezo igniter until the pilot flame ignites. Hold the knob in for about a minute. This will give the thermocouple a chance to sense the flame.
  • If the pilot flame stays on then turn the knob to hot. If it doesn’t call us.

Why call a local plumber near you

A gas water heater installation or repair can be a very dangerous thing. Natural gas is explosive. The exhaust gasses include carbon monoxide that can kill you. The water pipes can leak & damage your home. Don’t have a handyman or air conditioning repairman perform a water heater service. Find a master plumber. Find your local plumbing advocate. Call Advocate Master Plumbing.

Below is a YouTube video that we hope will help.


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