Why Does Pilot Light Keeps Going Out on Water Heater?

Let Dunlap Foundation Repair address all your water heater concerns. Call (602) 560-7235 today to schedule a service appointment! 

Your hot water heater gets plenty of use, whether you’re bathing, washing dishes, or running your washing machine. However, sometimes the tank can’t heat up because of one small but essential component: the pilot light. This guide will answer the common question: why does the pilot light go out on water heaters?

Keep reading to learn how this feature works and the factors that contribute to its malfunction. When you need a water heater repair company in Peoria, AZ, to tackle this and other problems, trust our team at Dunlap Foundation Repair.

What Is a Pilot Light?

Every gas-powered water heater has a pilot light, which is the main component that heats up water within the tank. The pilot light is a small flame that ignites the gas supply and triggers the water heater’s burners to warm up. Your water heater’s pilot light should constantly stay light, but sometimes it goes out unexpectedly.

How Does a Water Heater Pilot Light Work?

Once you ignite the pilot light with either a match or lighter, the flame will heat up the water heater’s thermocouple. This piece creates an electric current that leaves the gas control valve open so the gas supply can consistently flow through the appliance. As gas flows through the valve, the pilot light will stay lit and ensure you have a sufficient supply of hot water.

You can manually turn off the pilot light to stop the gas supply by flipping a switch on your water heater. However, many homeowners find that the pilot light goes out at inconvenient times.

Why Does the Pilot Light Keeps Going Out on Water Heaters?

The pilot light may go out if your water heater has some mechanical issues. Some of the most common issues include:

  • A damaged thermocouple
  • Broken flex tube
  • A dirty pilot tube
  • Main control valve issues
  • Lack of combustible air

Since the thermocouple is the primary piece that triggers gas flow into your burner, many pilot light issues stem from thermocouple damage. These mechanisms experience wear and tear over time, which can result in pilot lights that constantly go out after igniting them.

Other components that impact your pilot light are the pilot tube and flex tube. The pilot tube helps supply gas to the burner and can break or clog with debris which limits the gas flow. The flex tube acts similarly and connects the gas controller to the burner that holds the pilot light and thermocouple.

How to Prevent the Pilot Light From Going Out

Now that you have some answers to the question, “Why does the pilot Light keeps going out on water heaters?” let’s discuss how you can prevent these issues. One simple solution that will impact homeowners nationwide is a government initiative that would improve water heater efficiency and force manufacturers to update their technology. If you need to replace your water due to age or damage, upgrade to a system that uses innovative condensing technology to reduce your energy costs and enjoy fewer mechanical problems.

If you’re not in the market for a new water heater, you can try reigniting the flame yourself to see if the issue lies with your gas supply. Make sure the area around the water heater is clean since debris can limit the amount of combustible air the pilot light needs to stay lit.

Shut off the gas knob and wait a few minutes for the gas to stop flowing. Then, remove the water heater’s access panel, turn the gas knob to “pilot,” and press and hold the knob while you hold a flame to the pilot light burner.

Once you ignite the pilot light, turn the gas knob so it’s on and listen for noises coming from the main burner. If the pilot light doesn’t stay lit, there’s likely a complex mechanical issue that needs repair.

Contact Our Water Heater Repair Experts

If you’re still wondering, “Why does the pilot Light keeps going out on water heaters?” our licensed plumbers at Dunlap Foundation Repair can address all of your concerns. Our team understands the ins and outs of countless water heater models and will make sure your system is in excellent condition. We’ll inspect the tank and, if necessary, recommend that you replace the water heater before it fails.

Call us at Dunlap Foundation Repair at (602) 560-7235 to schedule service on your water heater.


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