close-up of a residential water heater

Why Did My Water Heater’s Pilot Light Go Out?

One of the common problems with water heaters is the pilot light flame going out. When this happens, your burners won’t ignite, and your water will be cold. For example, if you turn on the shower and can’t get hot water, this may mean the pilot light went out.

Fortunately, Care Temp, LLC is your team of HVAC professionals with experience solving a wide range of issues. We offer heating repair in Brick, NJ, and the surrounding areas and can keep your air conditioning and heating in top condition. If your pilot light went out and you need assistance, we have a few solutions for fixing it.

What Is the Pilot Light?

The pilot light is a small blue flame that burns petroleum gas to produce heat. When this flame goes out, the water heating system stops producing heat. Gas furnaces, especially older furnaces, also have pilot lights. Like a water heater, a furnace pilot light may go out.

An extinguished pilot light is a common issue that many homeowners face. Luckily, it usually requires minimal effort to repair it. As long as it’s not broken, you can relight your pilot light without calling a professional.

If you suspect your pilot light went out, remove the inner and outer access panels to check it. There are several reasons why it may have gone out.

Reasons Your Water Heater’s Pilot Light May Have Gone Out

Thermocouple Issues

The thermocouple is the commander of your water heater. It senses when your pilot light is burning. The tip of the thermocouple sits over the pilot flame, generating a voltage that keeps the gas valve open. When it senses the pilot light went out, the thermocouple shuts off the gas supply to the water heater. 

Over time, a thermocouple can get bent, accumulate dirt and dust, and begin to malfunction. A dirty thermocouple will have a difficult time sensing the pilot light flame, while a damaged thermocouple may be too far from the pilot flame to receive heat. 

Solution: First, turn off the main gas valve and wait for the thermocouple to cool. If it’s dirty, use a piece of sandpaper to scrub away the dirt and grime. For a kinked thermocouple, manually bend it back into position so it’s close to the pilot light again.

If you’ve cleaned and bent the thermocouple into position and it still isn’t working, you probably have a broken thermocouple that you’ll need to replace. You can check by performing a diagnostic test with a multimeter. If the voltage supply is lower than 20 MV, then you should replace the damaged thermocouple.

Dirty Pilot Tube

An unclean pilot tube is another common problem with water heaters. The pilot tube supplies gas to the pilot light for combustion. 

The pilot flame will go out when the pilot tube gets clogged with dirt and debris. Even just a partial blockage can be enough to cause the pilot light to go out. 

Solution: Use a needle to clean the pilot tube inside gently. You may need to do this several times to ensure the removal of dirt and grime. 

Clean the passage inside the pilot tube to allow the gas supply to flow freely. Once you’ve finished, put it back and relight the pilot flame. After relighting the pilot light, it should stay lit and provide a steady hot water supply.

Lack of Combustible Air

Another reason your pilot light went out may be the lack of combustible air it receives. Your water heater requires air to keep the pilot light burning. 

If your water heater doesn’t get enough combustible air, the pilot flame will go out, and you won’t get hot water. The pilot light may go out if your heater is in a utility closet or an area with low combustible air. 

Solution: Keep the area surrounding your water heater as clean as possible. Ensure you haven’t blocked your water heater with debris or clutter to allow maximum airflow. 

Keeping the area near your water heater clear will ensure it has combustible air to keep the pilot light burning. A working water heater means you’ll have hot water for bathing, washing dishes, and other household activities.

Complete Heating and Air Conditioning Services in New Jersey Since 1994

Whether you have a broken pilot light or another water heater issue, Care Temp, LLC provides water heater repair in Toms River, NJ, and the rest of Ocean County, NJ. We ensure complete satisfaction for our customers and can provide immediate service. Contact us today!