They say it’s the little things that can make a big difference. That can certainly be the case with the pilot light and your water heater. The pilot light is a small component but if it’s not working properly, the entire unit is useless. If you’re having trouble with your pilot light staying lit, read on and we’ll explain the most common causes.
What does the pilot light do?
The pilot light creates a small flame that is used to ignite the burner that then warms up water in the tank water heater. If the pilot light goes out periodically, it’s usually not a cause for concern. In older units, it will need to be relit manually, while newer models do it automatically.
However, if the pilot light extinguishes repeatedly, you will need to address the root problem, otherwise, you will soon be without hot water in your home.
Four commons causes of a faulty pilot light
- Bent gas supply line. The water heater often connects to the natural gas supply with a flexible metal hose. The flex line makes it easy to install but can also get bent or kinked, which cuts off the gas from the unit. Unkink the flex tube and see if that fixes your problem.
- Dirty pilot tube – When dirt, dust, or other debris gets on the pilot tube, it can block the flow of gas. This can prevent the pilot light from igniting or staying lit since the fuel source is disrupted. The good news is the pilot tube can be cleaned so it can return to working properly.
- Issue with the thermocouple. The job of the thermocouple is to create a magnetic current that keeps the gas valve open when the pilot light is on. If the thermocouple gets dirty, that signal gets blocked and the gas valve shuts, resulting in the pilot light going out. Over time, the thermocouple may get damaged or the sensor can go bad, which would require the component to be replaced.
- Faulty control valve. The control valve is the button or switch that you adjust to turn the water heater on. It controls the pilot light and the thermocouple, so if the valve is faulty, it will affect those components as well. Replacing a control valve should only be done by a qualified HVAC professional.
Professional water heater service
If you try to resolve a pilot light issue on your own, be sure to follow instructions in your water heater’s user manual, and take all necessary safety precautions.
For professional assistance getting your water heater back up and running, bring in the local experts at Pratt Plumbing. To schedule an appointment with one of our experienced local plumbers, call (806) 373-7866.