Why The Water Heater Pilot Light Wont Stay Lit

Even though they are usually rare, water heaters do have their own set of problems and one of the most common that sometimes the water heater pilot light won’t stay lit. What could be the cause?

One part of the water heater is the thermocouple. The thermocouple is nothing more than a safety device that will shut the gas down when there is no pilot light. A closer look at the burning pilot light will reveal that there’s actually a metal tube that is right on top of the flame and gets back to the valve of the gas. What the thermocouple will do is to create a very small current. That electrical current is created then the tube is heated by the flame. It’s this current that will keep the gas valve open and working. If the pilot light stops, then the tube will stop producing the current. The gas valve will close.

First of all, make sure that you initially set it up properly. The way of doing it is to press the override button for no less than 30 seconds. In normal conditions, the gas will be enough to get the thermocouple to generate enough current to keep it going. However, if you happen to have a defective thermocouple, it’ll instantly shut down after the initial 30 seconds. In that case, you’ll need to replace it.

What To Do When The Water Heater Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit

The thermocouple breaking down is actually a rather common problem and many people will find that the water heater pilot light won’t stay lit even after the 30 second override. The most expensive part of replacing the thermocouple is the service (which can go up to $100) as it’s actually a cheap part of the water heater.

The installation is fairly simple and if you don’t know which one to get (some models have specific requirements) you can use a universal thermocouple (we recommend that one, it’s cheap and works perfect). You should check for thermocouple installation guidelines for your particular model if you plan on installing it by yourself.

Costs Of Fixing The Problem When The Water Heater Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit

As we’ve mentioned before, it’s a fairly simple procedure that you can probably do by yourself or get someone to do it cheaply.

If you want to get it for the best price, contact people around your area that are licensed in it and ask for a price quote. If you’re having someone over to install it, the service could cost you around $100, which is around 10 times the cost of the part.

If the thermocouple is working fine and that’s not the problem, then you should contact the maker for further instructions on what the problem could be. Even though most times it’s the thermocouple, it could be something more serious and require a more costly repair.

With the simple test before, you’ll know if the reason why the water heater pilot light won’t stay lit is actually the thermocouple or not.


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