A malfunctioning water heater can have a huge impact on your daily life. No hot water for your shower, washing machine or faucets can be a pain to say the least. In many cases, though, the cause for a water heater to stop working is as simple as the pilot light going out. The following are some tips to get that pilot light to light – and stay lit.
Basic Water Heater Operation
A water heater is a specially designed tank that takes in cold water, heats it, then stores it at a set temperature, keeping it ready for your daily hot water needs. Temperature sensors regulate the temperature by telling the burners when to turn on or off. When it’s time to heat, the control unit allows gas to pump to the burners where it is ignited by the standing pilot light.
Water Heater Won’t Ignite
Since the water heater pilot light is the ignition source for the burners, if it won’t light it causes problems. Here are a couple common ways to light your pilot light as well as a few reasons why your pilot light may not be lighting.
Depending on the type of water heater you have and how old it is, there are basically two ways to light your pilot light. One way, common for older models, is by manually lighting it with a lighter or match. The second way, usually found on newer models, is by using the built-in electric igniter. These work similarly to the electric spark that you would find on a grill lighter, for example.
With a manually lit pilot light, there are a couple possibilities for why it won’t light. First, there could be a lack of gas flowing to it. Here are some ways you can easily check this. First, take a look at your gas meter to make sure that you still have gas flowing to your house. Another way to check is by turning on your gas stove, if you have one. Finally, check to ensure that the gas valve that supplies gas to your water heater is turned on.
If the gas supply is not the issue and you’re still having trouble lighting your pilot light, then the pilot light port could be plugged with carbon buildup. On electric-start models, the reason for having trouble lighting your pilot light could be a faulty igniter.
Pilot Light Keeps Going Out
Another common issue that users have is that the pilot light will light, but it won’t stay lit. Oftentimes, this is caused by the thermocouple. The thermocouple acts as a safety feature that prevents gas from flowing to the burner when the pilot light is not lit. The thermocouple extends into the pilot flame where it is heated, creating an electric current that causes the fuel valve to open.
One reason for trouble is that, oftentimes, people don’t hold down the pilot button for long enough to heat the thermocouple to the temperature required to open the fuel valve. If you hold the button for the instructed time and still have problems, then the thermocouple could be defective.
If you’re still having trouble or would like more information, feel free to contact the NATE certified technicians at Bryant Air Conditioning located in Morton Grove, IL. Their team of qualified HVAC specialists will be more than happy to help you with your water heater servicing needs.