Everything You Need to Know About Lighting Your Water Heater

Both gas and electric water heaters can heat up massive amounts of water for a home, which can be about 40-50 gallons. Even if the heater is tankless, it still needs a source of power. Those with electric heaters won’t have to worry about a pilot, whereas gas heaters will have a pilot that needs to stay lit in order for the heater to warm the water.

Both heaters can work efficiently in a Westfield home, but some homes have a gas heater because their home is run by gas or, at least, the water heating portion is. Others may have electric heaters because there is no gas running to their home, but each heater can have their own issues. Every heater will need maintenance at some point, but a gas heater may experience an outage with the pilot, which means that it needs to be relit in order to get the water in the heater to become warm again.

The Gas Heaters Thermocouple

The thermocouple on a gas heater is very important because it’s what’s able to sense the heat of the pilot, and it starts the flow of gas to the burner. If this part is starting to go bad, then the gas may constantly shut off to the pilot, which means no warm water for the home. This part may need to be replaced, which may be the single reason why the pilot keeps going out.

What To Know About the Pilot

Another thing to consider is if the pilot isn’t properly covered, and if it’s a newer heater that has the pilot behind glass, then a draft or breeze is not the issue. The older heaters that have the pilot accessible through an access door may be slightly ajar, which could be the reason why the pilot has gone out.

It’s best to get a Westfield plumber out to check the heater thoroughly to make sure that the thermocouple is not going bad, or other parts don’t need replacing. The plumber can also relight the pilot and advise you on any issues the heater may be having.

When the pilot has to be relit, it’s not as simple as opening the access door and putting fire to the pilot. There’s a process that should be followed, especially if the person relighting the pilot is concerned with the safety of themselves as well as others in the home. Before the pilot is ever relit, it’s best to smell around for gas because a bad thermocouple means that the gas may not have been turned off, which means a gas leak can be present.

Gas Leaks

A gas leak is easy to detect because you’ll hear a hissing sound of some kind if it’s a severe gas leak, or it’s possible that you may smell rotten eggs, which is a clear sign of a gas leak.

Take the time to go around the heater to sniff for the smell of gas as well as bending down to smell around the lower part of the heater. After the smell test, there is one of two things that must be done. One, if gas is leaking, call the gas company right away to determine the urgency of the situation. The gas company may need to come out to stop the leak, or the person calling the company may be advised on how to keep the leak under control or stop it completely. Two, if there is no leak, then it’s completely safe to move forward to get the pilot relit again.

Relighting the Pilot

The next step in the process of relighting the pilot is to get the specific instructions on how the pilot needs to be relit, which should be located in a small panel or door that’s on the water heater. Since there are different models of water heaters, it may be necessary to look around for the instructions, but the instructions should be there. Follow the instructions exactly how they are stated in order to get the pilot lit again.

  1.  Westfield, IN Lighting-water-heaters-2Typically, the next step would be to put the temperature control gauge onto the setting of “low.”
  2. Once this is done, look for what’s called the “regulator valve,” which should be very close to the temperature gauge. There is also a knob that will turn off the heater if it’s put into the “off” setting. There is a box that will be located on the heater and on the front of this small box should be the temperature control gauge as well as the knob to turn the heater off. On top of this box should be the regulator valve.
  3. Once the heater is turned off, give it about 10 minutes before doing anything else, just to let any gas that may be in the room out. Opening a window and running the central air may help as well. The pilot for the heater can be relit in one of two ways. It’s possible to relight the pilot with fire, or there may be an igniter that is built into the heater, which allows the pilot to be relit without the use of fire. Those that have a pilot that needs to be manually lit should always use a wand lighter, which is the safest way to relight the pilot. Never take the chance of using matches or a lighter when relighting a pilot because this can cause serious burns if something goes wrong, especially since space inside the pilot area is very small.

New Heaters

  1. Those with newer heaters that do not allow access to the pilot can simply push the ignition button to relight the pilot. When it’s time to relight the pilot, then it’s best to take one hand to hold the wand lighter while using the other hand to turn the gas valve back over to the “pilot” setting, then push down on this valve. If the valve doesn’t go down, then it’s necessary to use a button that should be next to the valve, and this button should be red.
  2. Press and hold the button for about a minute, and use the other hand to light the pilot. Once the pilot stays lit for at least a minute, release the button or the valve, and then close any open access panels on the water heater. Make sure to reignite the main burner as well as adjusting the temperature to the heater, which should be at 120°F. Warm water should be restored to the home within a few hours.

Any number of problems can cause water heaters to act up, especially if it’s a gas heater that has a pilot going out all the time. A thermocouple replacement may be what’s needed to fix a pilot problem, but gas heaters can have other problems as well, so water heater repair and maintenance, is always recommended. Get a trusted and licensed plumber to do any type of water heater repair and maintenance, and then you’ll have a great heater that works well for many years.

Your water heater can be repaired by L.E. Isley & Sons, Inc. in Westfield, IN at (317) 420-4006.