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Why Does My Hot Water Heater Pilot Light Keep Going Out? Diagnose the Problem

There’s nothing worse than having to take a cold shower, because your hot water heater pilot light keeps going out. Not only does this leave your household in an uncomfortable situation, it also adds more stress to your busy life. When your pilot light keeps going out on your water heater, follow these easy tips, so you can get back to your normal routine.

What does the pilot light do?

Not everyone is experienced with hot water heaters, so if you’re unsure as to what in fact a pilot light does, it’s important to get that established. The pilot light is the tiny, gas flame that is responsible for providing power to your gas hot water heater. If the pilot light on your water heater keeps going out, then you can expect no hot water for your household. This is why when your hot water heater pilot light keeps going out, you should fix it right away. Just remember to turn off the gas before you start.

Check out: There’s No Hot Water in the House! Here’s What to Do

Dirty Thermocouple

There are several things that can cause your gas water heater pilot light to keep going out. One of the most common is your thermocouple. If you are unfamiliar with what this device does, the thermocouple is a device in your hot water heater that uses an electrical current to determine whether the pilot light is on or not. If your pilot light is not lit, the thermocouple will detect this and automatically shut down the gas for your protection. However, if the thermocouple is dirty, then it won’t work properly.

To resolve this issue, you’ll want to find yourself a piece of sandpaper and then pinpoint the thermocouple. Once you locate the thermocouple, clean it thoroughly with the sandpaper. It’s important to point out that you should turn off the gas and make sure the thermocouple has completely cooled down before you begin.

Bent Thermocouple

In addition to the possibility of your thermocouple being dirty, your thermocouple can also become bent overtime. If your thermocouple becomes too deformed, it’ll quit functioning the way it’s suppose and result in a pilot light that constantly goes out. To fix your thermocouple, simply bend it back to its original position.

After you have your bent your thermocouple back to its original position, you’ll want to make sure that it’s close to the pilot’s flame. If you are unsure where specifically it should be, reference the user’s manual. However, it’s important to remember that if your thermocouple is close enough to the flame, the light will precisely wrap itself around the sensor.

Broken Thermocouple

Beside being dirty and bent, your thermocouple could also be broken. If you realize that your water heater’s thermocouple is in fact broke, you’ll want to repair it right away. Most home improvement stores carry this part, but for those homeowners that have no experience with this sort of thing, it’s best to call a professional to handle the job.

Dirty Pilot Tube

If after you’ve fully inspected the thermocouple your gas water heater pilot light keeps going out, then you’ll want to inspect the thermocouple. Over the years, your water heater’s pilot tube can become dirty and clogged resulting in your pilot light’s inability to stay lit. To resolve this problem, you’ll need a needle. Once you have a needle, clean out the tube, so gas can flow through it easily. After you have cleaned out the tube, turn back on the gas.

Problems with your Flex Tube

The flex tube is an important part of your hot water heater and is attached to the gas controller. The main goal of the flex tube is to ensure the gas in your water heater tank is flowing properly. Open up your water heater and locate the flex tube. Once you find it, check to see if there’s any kinks in it. If you do in fact see a kink or two, simply unkink them. However, if while inspecting the flex tube you see holes, cracks or other deformities, you’ll need to replace it. You can purchase these tubes at most home improvement stores.

Check the Main Control Valve

The main control valve is another portion of your hot water heater that can cause your hot water heater pilot light to keep going out. Although the main control valve seldom breaks down, it can happen. When the main control valve does require repair, you’ll need to call a professional unless you have experience to do it yourself. To test to make sure that the main control valve is actually the problem, you’ll want to first invest in a multimeter. You can usually purchase this tool at most home improvement stores. Once you have equipped yourself with a multimeter, you’ll then want to test your water heater’s thermocouple. This allows you to rule out the thermocouple, since it’s the main reason why the pilot light on your water heater keeps going out.

Kevin L. Sharp