Why Does My Water Heater Pilot Light Keep Going Out?

traditional tank home water heater warms up water in its storage tank and keeps some of the hot water in reserve for future use. New water heaters have been developed to have a water without a tank. Tankless water heaters are “on-demand” type of water heater. It is important to understand how the mechanics of both water heaters operate to better understand how you or a professional can repair it.  In both cases, the heating elements are kept warm with a burner that is activated and turned on by the pilot light.

If your pilot light keeps going out, the burner can’t turn on and what this means is your home’s water will not be heated for usages like showers, cooking, and dishwashing. Troubleshooting this issue can range from simple to very complicated depending on the cause of the malfunction. We will talk about some areas that might be causing this issue and where our plumbers will usually check to diagnose the problem.

Nothing is more annoying than when you run a bath or shower, and there is no hot water. If your water heater pilot light will not stay lit, it is important to fix it immediately.

Call Benjamin Franklin Plumbing for an experienced plumber to come and inspect your water heater for possible issues. Learn more about our water heater services we are currently offering discounts on traditional and tankless water heater services.

Something is Wrong With Your Thermocouple

The thermocouple is a key part of your home’s water heater, along with the pilot light. It’s the part that detects whether the pilot light is lit and generates an electrical current based on the presence of heat. If there is no heat, the thermocouple assumes that the pilot is off resulting in a shut down of the gas supply.

  • Dirty thermocouple: A pilot tip that is too dirty for gas also results in the flame going out. Regularly clean the tip with a toothbrush to remove old soot and grime buildup. You can also gently sand the thermocouple with sandpaper to clean it. After cleaning the thermocouple attempt to relight the pilot light.
  • Bent thermocouple: Sometimes your gas water heater won’t stay lit, if you check the thermocouple, you may see that it has been bent. This will prevent the pilot light from heating it. This will cause the thermocouple to turn off the supply of gas, and then your water heater won’t light. To avoid your water heater going out, bend the thermocouple, so it is closer to the pilot light.
  • Dirty pilot tube: Sometimes, your gas water heater won’t light due to a dirty pilot tube. Use a needle to remove any blockages when the pilot tube has cooled.
  • Damaged thermocouple: If none of these techniques work, it is possible your thermocouple is damaged and needs to be replaced or repaired.
  • Incorrect position thermocouple: Check to ensure that the pilot light flame is high enough to reach and touch the thermocouple.

Not Enough Gas Coming From Gas Supply

The pilot light having a hard time remaining lit can be due to an insufficient gas supply.

Insufficient Flame

Check the adjustment knob on your water heater’s pilot light to increase the flame size of the pilot if necessary.

Electric Water Heaters

For electrical units, there is no gas supply or pilot light to worry about, but there are bad electrical components that can go out over time.

An example of bad electrical components is when you notice your breaker is live, but the water heater still refuses to light and heat the water. If this is the case, we would check your thermostat for malfunction or it could be a heating coil issue. We run our tests through an electrical tester.

If your water heater trips the breaker every time it attempts to heat the water then you will definitely need a person with knowledge and experience of electrical short circuits.

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