How to Relight the Pilot Light on Your Natural Gas Water Heater

Pilot lights are ignition sources for natural gas appliances, including your water heater. But what happens when that blue flame is extinguished? You’ll be stuck showering in cold water – and could even experience a natural gas leak.

While pilot lights go out for a number of reasons, including strong drafts, dirt build-ups or basement floods, they can be easily relit. Here’s a step-by-step guide of how to reignite the blue flame on your own:

Now, let’s slow down those eight simple steps. 

  1. Before anything, be sure to turn off your natural gas by rotating the gas shut off valve. This is normally a red handle at the top of your machine that should be moved a quarter turn to the right, forming a “T.” Once it’s shut off, wait five minutes to ensure all gas that may be trapped inside has time to air out.

  2. Then, rotate your gas control temperature dial clockwise until it stops. This is the “Pilot Lighting” position.

  3. Turn the gas control knob – a small, black knob on the top of the control box – to “Off.” This will require slightly depressing the knob and then turning it clockwise.

  4. Now you’re ready to take off the access panel. Depending on the make and model of your natural gas water heater, this may require unscrewing the panel or lightly squeezing and pulling backward on it. Once inside, remove the insulation. Verify that the light is out by peering into the view port.

  5. Turn the gas shut off valve back to the “Open” position. Then, turn the gas control knob to the pilot setting, which should be marked clearly on the knob. Again, this may require slightly depressing the knob and rotating it.

  6. Once on the pilot setting, press down on the knob. At the same time, click the green button to the righthand side. You should hear a faint “click.” Keep clicking until the pilot light is ignited.

    Note: this may take multiple attempts. In some cases, the pilot light may continuously fail to be reignited. If this happens, call a professional to assess your water heater.

    If the pilot light was successfully reignited, continue holding down on the gas control knob. After one minute, release the gas control knob and verify that the pilot light has stayed on. If it has not, rotate the valves and knobs to their original settings and return to Step 1.

  7. Rotate your gas control knob back to the “On” position and change your gas control temperature dial to the desired temperature setting.

  8. Lastly, return the insulation and the access control panel cover.

Remember that water heaters vary by make and model. The steps above are designed to be a guide, but they may not be exhaustive. 

Now that was some good work. Go take a warm bath – you deserve it. 

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