water heater pilot light - pilot light mechanism

How to Relight Your Water Heater Pilot Light

Your hot water heater pilot light holds tremendous power over you. If you’ve ever stepped into your shower on a cold winter morning — with body shivering and teeth chattering — as you wait for hot water that never comes, then you know I speak the truth!

If you own a gas water heater, this can mean one of two things. Either (1) the gas supply has been shut off or (2) your pilot light is out. Let’s first (and quickly) deal with the possibility that your gas supply has been shut off.

1. How to Make Sure Your Gas Supply is On

  1. Find the shut-off valve to your gas line.
  2. The shut-off valve usually is found close to your gas meter (see illustration below), which is located on the side or front of your home or main building.
  3. Make sure the shut-off valve connected to your gas line is in the “ON” position.
  4. If it is not in the ON position, then the problem is not with your gas line.
  5. If it is in the OFF position, turn the valve to the ON position. Feel free to call your local gas company for advice.
Gas meter gas line shut off valve illustration for Step 1 how to relight water heater pilot light
The first step in diagnosing the lack of hot water is to check your gas line. Make sure the gas shut-off valve is in the ON position.

If all is okay with your gas supply, then it’s time to check out your water heater pilot light.

2. How to Light Your Pilot Light Water Heater

The process of relighting a pilot light is different for each manufacturer. Fortunately, there are only a few manufacturers. Your first step should be to look for the instructions usually glued onto your water heater. Don’t worry if you can’t find them. We have specific brand-by-brand instructions written below.

This video contains “generalized” instructions. For instructions specific to your brand of water heater, scroll below.

How to Light a Rheem Hot Water Heater Pilot Light

A Rheem water heater pilot light needs to be lit manually using the piezo ignitor striker built into the water heater.

  1. Rotate the gas knob on your Rheem water heater clockwise until it is in position.
  2. Rotate the water-heater temperature dial counter-clockwise until it is set to the lowest temperature setting. Wait five minutes to let through any gas in the water.
  3. Lift off the outer door of your Rheem water heater.
  4. Rotate the gas knob counter-clockwise until it is in the “Pilot Light” position.
  5. Press down on the red button to the left of the gas knob.
  6. On the left of the gas knob is the piezo ignitor striker. While continuing to press down on the red button, press the piezo ignitor striker repeatedly until the pilot light is relit. You can see the pilot light through the viewing window on the Rheem water heater’s inner door.
  7. Continue to hold down the red button for one minute after the pilot light is lit and then release it. The pilot light will remain lit.
  8. Reattach your water heater’s outer door.
  9. Rotate the gas knob to the “ON” position.
  10. Set the hot water temperature dial to your preferred water temperature.  

How to Light an A.O. Smith or State Water Heater Pilot Light

A.O. Smith water heaters and State water heaters including the Conservationist model, use a piezoelectric igniter system that allows you to light the pilot by pushing the ignition button

  1. Take the access panel off the side of the A.O. Smith or State water heater and set the panel out of the way.
  2. Turn the gas control knob on the side of the water heater to the “OFF” position and allow the room to air out for approximately 10 minutes.
  3. Set the gas control knob to the “Pilot Light” position. Push down on the red button (this will allow the gas to flow to the burner assembly).
  4. While continuing to hold down the red button, press down on the ignitor button until the pilot light comes on. You may need to press down on the ignitor button two or three times before the hot water heater pilot light comes back on.
  5. Hold the red button down for about 60 seconds after the pilot is lit, then slowly let the button back up.
  6. Turn the gas control knob to the “ON” position.
  7. Place the access panel back onto the side of the water heater.

How to Light a Bradford White Water Heater Pilot Light

  1. Turn the Bradford White water heater off on the control panel
  2. Let the water heater sit for 5 minutes to release gas from the system
  3. Turn the control switch to pilot light mode
  4. Press the red control button in for a few seconds and while pressing in, button every few seconds
  5. Listen for a click and the water heater status light should start blinking ignites
  6. Let go of the red control button
  7. Turn the red control button to the hot position.
  8. If the pilot light does not stay lit or will not relight, a bigger problem could be the cause for your loss of hot water. Contact your plumber for immediate help.

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Call 1-Tom-Plumber

Messing with the gas in your home can be pretty scary. Don’t worry, we can get you back to a warm shower in no time. Don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237). We will immediately handle any emergency plumbingdrain cleaning and drain clearing, and water damage problem, including excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines.

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