How to Re-Light Your Water Heater Pilot Light

When you step into the shower, you expect the water to get nice and hot very quickly. If an icy rain greets you instead, you know something’s wrong. The typical root cause behind this uncomfortable, harsh surprise is a water heater pilot light that’s gone out.

Don’t worry—relighting a water heater pilot doesn’t require a lot of training. Follow the simple, step-by-step strategies from the pros at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing listed below, and you’ll soon be back to enjoying those hot showers.

Ways You Can Easily Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

To start out, read the user’s manual that goes with your water heater model. Instructions differ from brand to brand, and you should get the information you need in the manual. If you don’t have the paper copy that came with the installation, look up the model number online to find a digital version. However, the following actions should apply for the majority of gas water heaters:

  1. Look for the gas shut-off valve, which typically is distinctly marked on the lower front part of your water heater. Move this knob to the “Off” position and wait for five to 10 minutes to let any lingering gas to dissipate.
  2. Open the pilot light access cover or door, which is normally positioned below the gas valve. On occasion, there isn’t a door; instead, you could possibly see the pilot light burner through a small opening.
  3. Arm yourself with a flashlight or headlamp. Next, peer into the pilot light access and locate two small gas tubes leading to the burner. Keep an eye on this area as you go ahead with lighting the water heater pilot.
  4. Turn the gas knob to “Pilot.” This move lets the gas flow, preparing the pilot light for ignition. Some units have a specific red button for pilot mode, which you should press and hold.
  5. Relight the pilot light while still holding down the gas knob or button. Your home’s water heater may have an igniter button, typically red or black. If not, you’ll need a long lighter to light the pilot by hand.
  6. Hold down the gas knob or button for roughly 30 to 60 seconds after the flame ignites. Ensure the flame stays lit. 
  7. Rotate the gas knob to “On.” You should hear a whump or whoosh sound as the main burner fires up and your water heater roars back to life.
  8. Put the access cover or door back on. Give your water heater roughly 20 to 60 minutes to heat the water, and you’ll be ready to enjoy that hot shower!

What if {the Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit?

Needing to relight the pilot every once in a while is not a cause for concern. However, there could be a more severe underlying issue if the water heater pilot light will not stay lit. Some frequent factors that cause this problem are:

  • Faulty thermocouple: The thermocouple is an automatic safety shut-off, preventing gas flow when the pilot light is out. If this feature is misaligned, dirty or damaged, you may face frequent pilot light problems. Reposition the thermocouple slightly and try lighting the pilot again. If that doesn’t do the trick, you could possibly need to clean it. And if that proves unproductive, it might be necessary to replace the thermocouple, an easy task for a licensed technician.
  • Dirty pilot opening: If your pilot light has a yellow flame, it’s likely due to a dirty pilot opening. This can inhibit the thermocouple’s performance, leading to pilot light instability.
  • Weak or defective gas regulator: Problems with this component might lead to an inadequate gas supply needed to maintain the pilot light. If several gas appliances in your home have similar issues, take a look at the regulator.
  • Breezy conditions: Water heaters commonly share a utility closet with the furnace, which demands fresh air to operate properly. Stiff drafts from this air intake can snuff out the pilot light.

Congrats, Your Water Heater’s Pilot Light is Lit. Let Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing Keep it That Way!

If you’re still having trouble with your water heater pilot light in the U.S., contact Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Our ACE-certified technicians provide fast, reliable solutions to all your comfort worries. Everything we do is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not pleased with our work, we’ll work to fix it. We are leaders in innovation and customer service, with strong community involvement that is a sign of our commitment to your comfort. Call 866-397-3787 today to reach the qualified staff at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. We’re standing by to make a meaningful difference in your life, one hot shower at a time. 

Savings For You

See All Offers Here >


  • Save $50 on a Paid Service
  • Written 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Plus, ask how to save an additional 15% and waive your trip charge!

© 2024 Service Experts, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, and the Service Experts logo and design are registered trademarks of Service Experts LLC and used under license by SE Canada Inc. All Rights Reserved. *Not applicable to the Advantage Program. See your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is subject to certain restrictions and limitations as set forth in the applicable Terms and Conditions.