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Why Does My Water Heater Pilot Light Go Out?


Your water heater is probably something you take for granted…until it malfunctions. If you are having problems with your water heater pilot light going out, check these main culprits first.

1. Thermocouple – The most common cause of the pilot light going out is a thick looking copper wire called the thermocouple. It sits on the gas valve and is responsible for turning off the gas if the pilot light goes out. If the piece is faulty it tends to turn the pilot light off instead.

2. Draft – Is your pilot light going out mainly on windy days? Is the lighting area exposed to a draft? If the pilot light isn’t properly shielded from airflow, a draft can put it out.

3. Ventilation – Your water heater should have it’s own vent out through the roof. Any issues with the stack can cause a backdraft of air to flow down and put out the pilot light. If this is the issue, you might want to have a professional come look at it. They can tell you if adding to the stack height would help eliminate your problem.

4. Not enough air – Just as too much air can cause problems with the pilot light, too little air can do the same. You pilot light is a flame, and as such, it needs air to continue to burn. So, if your water heater is in a poorly ventilated or stuffy area, your pilot light may go out. For instance, if the water heater is in an attic that has insufficient ventilation, the pilot light will go out.

5. Thermostat – Sometimes, the water heater’s internal thermostat goes bad. It will overheat the water, which begins a chain reaction that ends with the pilot light going out. If this is your problem, you will need to replace the entire unit.

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