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Why Does the Pilot Light on My Water Heater Keep Going Out?

There is nothing more frustrating when trying to run a hot bath than when your water heater keeps turning off. If your water heater pilot light will not stay lit, it is important to fix it immediately. There are many reasons your water heater igniter might turn itself off.

Often, when your water heater won’t ignite, it’s due to the thermocouple. This device detects whether your pilot light is on by generating a heat-powered electrical current. If the thermocouple has cooled, it assumes that your water heater pilot light is off and your water heater won’t ignite. A faulty thermocouple can cause problems with your water heater not staying lit.

  • 1. Dirty thermocouple: If you can light your pilot light, but the water heater pilot keeps going out, there are many possible causes. One of them is a dirty thermocouple. When you have a problem with your water heater not lighting, look at your water heater pilot light. Inspect the thermocouple to determine if it is dirty. If so, turn off the gas and allow the thermocouple to cool, then clean it by gently sanding with fine sandpaper. Then turn the gas back on and attempt to light the pilot.
  • 2. Bent thermocouple: Sometimes, when your gas water heater won’t stay lit, if you check the thermocouple, you may see that it has been bent. This will prevent the pilot light from heating it. This will cause the thermocouple to turn off the supply of gas, and then your water heater won’t light. To avoid your water heater going out, bend the thermocouple so it is closer to the pilot light.
  • 3. Dirty pilot tube: Sometimes, your gas water heater won’t light due to a dirty pilot tube. Use a needle to remove any blockages when the pilot tube has cooled.
  • 4. Damaged thermocouple: If none of these techniques work, it is possible your thermocouple is damaged and needs to be replaced or repaired.
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