Why Won’T My Water Heater Stay Lit: Troubleshooting Tips You Need!

The water heater won’t stay lit due to a faulty thermocouple or gas control valve. If your pilot light keeps going out, it’s likely due to one of these issues.

A water heater that won’t stay lit can be a frustrating problem for homeowners. The pilot light can extinguish regularly, causing the water heater to stop producing hot water. There can be various reasons for this issue, such as a defective thermocouple or gas control valve.

A thermocouple detects whether the pilot light is lit and sends a signal to the gas control valve to keep the burner on. If the thermocouple malfunctions, it can’t send the signal, and the heater will turn off. Similarly, if the gas control valve is defective, it can’t allow enough gas into the burner, causing the pilot light to go out. In this article, we’ll explore the possible causes and solutions for a water heater that won’t stay lit.

Why Won'T My Water Heater Stay Lit: Troubleshooting Tips You Need!

Credit: www.theenergyexperts.com

Understanding The Causes Of Water Heater Issues

If you’re having trouble with your water heater, you’re not alone. One common issue is the water heater not staying lit, leaving you without hot water and possibly facing expensive repairs. To help you understand what’s going on with your water heater and how to fix it, let’s dive deeper into the causes of these issues.

Overview Of How Water Heaters Work And Their Components

Before we explore potential causes of water heater issues, it’s helpful to understand how water heaters work and their various components. Here’s a brief overview:

  • Water heaters rely on gas or electricity to heat the water that goes into your home’s plumbing system.
  • A typical gas water heater has a burner at the bottom that heats the tank. Cold water is delivered to the bottom of the tank where it’s heated and then rises to the top.
  • The main components of a gas water heater include the gas supply line, thermocouple, pilot light, gas control valve, and thermostat.
  • The thermocouple is a safety device that senses the pilot light’s presence and controls the gas valve’s operation. The gas control valve regulates the gas flow into the burner, while the thermostat controls the water temperature.

Possible Causes Of Water Heater Not Staying Lit

There are several potential causes of a water heater not staying lit. Here are some of the most common:

  • Faulty thermocouple: The thermocouple is a safety feature that shuts off the gas supply if it detects a problem with the pilot light. If the thermocouple is faulty, the pilot light can’t stay lit. A replacement is usually necessary.
  • Dirty pilot tube: Dirt and debris can collect in the pilot tube, causing the flame to be weak or not stay lit. The pilot tube needs to be cleaned to fix the issue.
  • Clogged burner: Over time, the burner can become clogged with rust or debris, causing it to malfunction. Professional cleaning or replacement may be required.
  • Gas valve issues: The gas control valve regulates the gas flow into the burner. If this valve is faulty, it won’t allow the gas to flow, causing the pilot light to go out. Replacement of the gas valve may be necessary.
  • Improper venting: If the venting isn’t installed correctly, it can cause the pilot light to go out. Venting issues may require professional attention.
  • Low gas pressure: The gas pressure going to the water heater may be too low, causing the pilot light to go out. A professional can diagnose and fix the issue.
  • Wind issues: If the water heater is installed outside, wind can blow out the pilot light. Installing a wind guard or moving the unit indoors can solve this issue.

By understanding the causes of water heater issues, you can identify the problem and determine the appropriate fix. Remember to always prioritize safety and consult a professional if you’re not sure how to proceed.

Diy Troubleshooting Tips

Troubleshooting Tips For Water Heaters That Won’T Stay Lit

Dealing with a water heater that won’t stay lit can be frustrating, especially if you’re in the middle of a hot shower. In most cases, the problem is with the thermocouple. Here are some diy troubleshooting tips to help you identify and fix the issue.

Step-By-Step Guide To Checking And Replacing The Thermocouple

A defective thermocouple is the main cause of a water heater that won’t remain lit. Here’s a step-by-step guide to fixing the problem.

  • Before starting, turn off the gas and water supply to the heater.
  • Remove the access panel on the water heater to locate the thermocouple.
  • Unscrew the thermocouple from the gas valve and remove it.
  • Take the old thermocouple to a hardware store to buy a replacement that matches the same length and type.
  • Install the new thermocouple by screwing it into the gas valve.
  • Return the access panel to the water heater.
  • Turn on the gas and water supply and test the heater to ensure it stays lit.

Checking And Cleaning The Burner And Pilot Tube

If your water heater’s pilot light won’t stay lit, cleaning the burner and pilot tube could be the key to fixing it. Here’s how to do it.

  • Turn off the gas and water supply to the heater.
  • Locate the burner assembly and remove the burner and pilot tube from the gas valve.
  • Use a wire brush to clean the burner, making sure all the orifices are clear.
  • Clean the pilot orifice using a needle to remove any obstructions.
  • Reassemble the burner and pilot tube and screw them back into the gas valve.
  • Turn on the gas and water supply and test the heater to ensure it stays lit.

By properly troubleshooting your water heater, you may be able to fix the issue without having to call in a professional. Try these diy tips to save both time and money.

When To Call A Professional Plumber

Situations Where Diy Troubleshooting Is Not Recommended.

Water heaters are designed to provide hot water, but when it doesn’t stay lit, it can be a frustrating experience for homeowners. Some may try to troubleshoot the problem themselves, but in some situations, contacting a professional plumber is a must.

Here are some cases when diy troubleshooting is not recommended:

  • If the water heater is leaking or has signs of corrosion: If you notice leakages or any corrosion signs on your water heater, it’s best to call a plumber to assess the damage. Trying to fix it yourself could cause further damage or potentially harm yourself with the live electric wires.
  • If you smell gas: When you smell gas, it’s essential to call a professional plumber because any potential gas leakage can be hazardous to your health, and it may cause a massive fire accident.
  • If you have limited knowledge and experience: Trying to troubleshoot your water heater without proper knowledge and skills can lead to further damage, higher repair costs, or, worse still, injuring yourself.

Importance Of Seeking Professional Help To Avoid Further Damage.

Once you identify the situations where diy is not recommended, it’s essential to seek professional help. Here’s why:

  • Expertise and experience: Professional plumbers have extensive knowledge and experience to fix any water heater problem. They have the necessary tools and skills to diagnose the issue quickly and accurately.
  • Safe repairs: Repairs performed by an experienced professional reduce the risk of further damage to your water heater and hazardous accidents.
  • Saves time and money: Calling a professional plumber for water heater repair may seem expensive, but it saves time and money in the long run. Doing it yourself may lead to more significant costs if you make any mistakes, whereas a professional will get the job done correctly the first time around.

How To Find A Reputable Plumber And What To Expect During The Repair.

Finding a reputable plumber can be challenging, but it’s essential to find someone you can trust. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a plumber to repair your water heater:

  • Appropriate licensing and certification: Your plumber should have the necessary licenses and certifications to operate in your state. Verify their credentials before hiring them.
  • Experience: It’s essential to choose a plumber with a wealth of experience in water heater repairs and maintenance.
  • Check reviews and references: Look for plumbers with excellent customer feedback and positive reviews. Ask for at least three references from the plumber to know their past work and clients.
  • Get multiple quotes: Get multiple quotes from different plumbers and compare them before making your decision.

During the repair process, you can expect the following:

  • Diagnostics: The plumber will diagnose the problem, determine the solution, and provide you with an estimate.
  • Repairs or replacements: Once the plumber identifies the problem, they will carry out the necessary repairs or replacements.
  • Testing: The plumber will test your water heater to ensure it’s working correctly and that the issue is resolved.

If your water heater does not stay lit, attempting to troubleshoot it yourself may not be the best course of action. It’s essential to know the situations where diy is not recommended and seek professional help. Additionally, finding a reputable plumber, understanding the repair process, and what to expect can help to ensure a hassle-free and safe repair.

Prevention Tips To Avoid Future Issues

To ensure that your water heater keeps running efficiently, it is essential to take preventative measures. Here are some of the routine maintenance tasks that you should carry out on your water heater:

  • Drain the tank once a year: Sediment buildup in the tank can cause damage to your water heater. To avoid this, drain the tank once a year to remove any sediment buildup.
  • Inspect the anode rod: This rod is responsible for attracting corrosion and rust in your water heater, keeping them away from the tank. Inspect it every six months and replace it every two to three years.
  • Check the temperature and pressure release valve: If there is too much pressure or temperature in your water heater, it could lead to a sudden explosion. Test the valve once a year to ensure that it is releasing pressure correctly.
  • Replace your water heater after 10-15 years: The average lifespan of a water heater is 10-15 years. Replacing your water heater after this period can help you avoid future issues.

Signs To Look Out For

It’s important to watch out for signs that indicate an upcoming issue with your water heater. Here are some of the warning signs that you should look out for:

  • The water heater isn’t producing enough hot water or makes strange noises.
  • The water appears rusty or brown.
  • There is a foul smell when you turn on the hot water faucet.
  • The water heater is leaking.
  • There is a buildup of sediment or rust in the tank.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to call a professional plumber to inspect and repair your water heater.

Importance Of Professional Maintenance

Regular professional maintenance is essential to prevent costly repairs and ensure that your water heater runs efficiently. Here are some reasons why you should have a professional plumber inspect your water heater regularly:

  • Professional plumbers can identify and fix minor issues before they become major problems.
  • Regular maintenance can extend the lifespan of your water heater.
  • Professional plumbers have the knowledge and experience to ensure that your water heater is operating safely and efficiently.

By following these prevention tips and staying vigilant for signs of trouble, you can avoid future issues with your water heater. Remember to schedule regular professional maintenance to keep your water heater running at peak performance.

Frequently Asked Questions Of Why Won’T My Water Heater Stay Lit

Why Does My Water Heater Keep Going Out?

There could be several reasons as to why a water heater keeps going out, including a faulty thermocouple, gas valve, or burner. Other factors may include a clogged vent or airflow issues. It’s best to contact a professional to diagnose and repair the issue.

How Can I Troubleshoot My Water Heater?

You can troubleshoot your water heater by checking if the pilot light is lit and trying to relight it if it isn’t. You can also check the gas supply, the thermostat, and check for leaks. If all else fails, call a professional to diagnose and repair the problem.

Can Sediment Buildup Cause My Water Heater To Go Out?

Yes, sediment buildup can cause a water heater to go out. This is because it can cause the heating element to overheat and fail, or block the venting system and cause poor airflow. Flushing the tank annually can prevent sediment buildup and extend the life of a water heater.

How Often Do Water Heaters Need To Be Serviced?

Water heaters should be serviced at least once a year, though twice a year is recommended for older models or homes with hard water. This helps maintain the efficiency, extend the lifespan, and reduce the risks of breakdowns or malfunctions.

Can I Repair My Water Heater Myself?

Some minor repairs, such as relighting the pilot light or cleaning the burner, can be done by diyers. However, more complex issues such as gas leaks, electrocution risks, and water damage should be handled by a licensed professional. Attempting repairs on your own can also void warranties.


Conclusively, a water heater that won’t stay lit can cause much frustration for homeowners. However, keep in mind that this issue can have various causes, including a malfunctioning thermocouple or a gas control valve that needs replacement. It is always best to seek the help of a professional plumber to identify the root cause of the problem.

Regular maintenance of your water heater can often prevent the likelihood of the device breaking down. Ensure to inspect the burner, pilot tube, and igniter every six months or so and clean them regularly. Above all, safety should be a top priority when dealing with gas appliances, always turn off the gas supply before any repairs or maintenance.

Addressing the issue promptly and safely will help ensure a consistent supply of hot water for your daily needs.