How to Light a Pilot Light? (6 Step Guide)

Last Updated On October 19, 2021
how to light a pilot light

A gas water heater may use a pilot light to ignite the gas burner, which warms up the water.

If the flame goes out, you will need to relight it if you want to continue to enjoy hot water.

In this PlumbingNav, we will cover:

  • What you need to know about lighting a pilot light
  • Supplies you’ll need
  • How to light a pilot light

What's In This Guide?

      What You Need To Know About Lighting A Pilot Light

      A pilot flame can be found in a gas fireplace, oven, water heater, or furnace to initiate the heating process.

      The pilot flame must stay on at all times for it to work.

      You are more likely to find a pilot light ignition in an older gas furnace. A newer furnace or water heater uses an electronic ignition.

      How Pilot Lights Works

      Pilot assembly consists of the following parts:

      • igniter
      • burner bracket
      • compression fitting
      • gas regulator

      The igniter creates the standing pilot light with a spark when someone turns on the control knob.

      When your water heater begins the process of heating water, it releases gas through a pilot tube. The gas interacts with the flame, creating an ignition that causes the gas burner to heat the incoming water before dispensing it to the appropriate fixture.

      Since pilot lights contain an open flame, they use a thermocouple to help protect your family from an accidental combustion by closing the gas valve when necessary.

      did you know how to light a pilot light

      Pilot Light Safety

      Before you light a pilot, you should understand basic safety.

      Any time you work with natural gas or propane, there is an inherent risk due to the flammability of the fuel.

      A gas leak creates the most dangerous situation. If you smell gas around the water heater, you should turn off the gas immediately and call a professional plumber.

      You also want to keep all flammable products away from your water heater.

      Supplies You’ll Need To Light A Pilot Light

      Before you light the pilot light, you should gather the necessary supplies. Luckily, you won’t need much.

      You will only need a flashlight to see the gas control knob better if you need to work in the dark and your water heater’s user manual for more detailed instructions for your particular unit.

      How To Light A Pilot Light (6 Steps)

      Step 1: Get Familiar with Your Hot Water Heater

      Learn about your water heater’s specific controls.

      In most cases, your water heater will have three options on the gas control knob: “off”, “pilot”, and “on.”

      Step 2: Ensure Proper Connections

      For the pilot to work properly, it needs to have a tight connection to the gas control valve and gas line.

      Visually inspect the connections and tighten them up if necessary.

      Step 3: Turn Knob to “Off”

      At this time, you need to turn the knob to the “off” position if it is not already there.

      Leave it in the “off” position to allow any excess gas to escape.

      Step 4: Turn Knob to “Pilot”

      After five minutes, turn the knob to the “pilot” setting.

      Step 5: Ignite

      With the knob in the “pilot” location on the control panel, you need to ignite the pilot to create the flame.

      Most devices use an igniter button that you hold for 30 seconds, but some models require the use of a lighter.

      If using a lighter, always remember to practice proper water heater pilot light safety.

      Once you ignite the pilot, you will see a flame.

      Step Six: Turn Knob to “On”

      After you generate a flame, turn the knob to the “on” setting and ensure the pilot light stays on.

      If the light does stay on, you have completed your task! You can enjoy using hot water as soon as the tank heats up the water.

      Why Does My Pilot Light Constantly Go Out?

      Pilot lights may go out from time to time, and that’s normal. However, you shouldn’t need to constantly relight your water heater pilot light.

      Some of the reasons your pilot light might go out more than normal include:

      • Faulty thermocouple
      • Improper ventilation
      • No gas supply
      • Damaged heat exchange
      • Leaks

      FAQS For How To Light A Pilot Light

      How do you relight a pilot light?

      Step One: Get Familiar With Your Water Heater

      Step Two: Ensure Proper Connections

      Step Three: Turn knob to “off”

      Step Four: Turn knob to “pilot”

      Step Five: Ignite

      Step Six: Turn knob to “on”

      Is it dangerous to light a pilot light?

      It is not usually dangerous to light a pilot. However, you want to take all necessary safety precautions, such as not wearing loose clothing and keeping flammable items away from the flame.

      What do you do when your pilot light goes out?

      Relight the pilot light.

      What causes a pilot light to not light?

      If the pilot light constantly goes out, you may have a bad thermocouple or pilot.

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      Brant

      I'm passionate about all things plumbing, and love sharing tips, "how-to", and reviewing the latest products to help make your project a success!

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      Brant

      I'm passionate about all things plumbing, and love sharing tips, "how-to", and reviewing the latest products to help make your project a success!

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