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How to Relight a Gas Water Heater

Step-by-step instructions on how to safely relight the pilot on a gas storage-tank water heater.

To relight a gas water heater, always check the side of the water heater or your owner’s manual first for step-by-step instructions.

The following video shows basic water heater relighting techniques.




The manufacturer will typically advise you to:

1 Turn the gas valve to OFF and wait a few minutes.

Turn dial to "Off" and wait before relighting pilot.© Lee Serenethos | Dreamstime.com

Turn gas valve’s dial to “Off” and wait before relighting pilot.

2 Turn the gas valve to PILOT and push down on it (or a red button next to it). Hold it down to begin the flow of gas through the pilot gas supply tube.

3 Holding the button or valve down, wait for the pilot indicator to light or, if your water heater requires manual lighting, use a barbecue lighter to ignite the gas at the end of the supply tube. You may have to hold the flame there for a few seconds if air is in the line.

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4 Continue holding down the control button for a minute or so after the pilot is lit, long enough for the pilot to heat the thermocouple, a heat sensor that automatically shuts off the gas when the pilot goes out. Then release the control button.

5 If the pilot won’t light or goes out again, turn the valve to OFF, wait a few minutes, and then repeat the process.

6 Once the pilot light stays lit after you release the control button, turn the control to the ON position. At this point, depending on the thermostat control setting, the burner should ignite.

7 If the pilot doesn’t light or stay lit after a couple of attempts, see Gas Water Heater Repairs.

If none of this works, call your gas utility company or a water heater repair person.

About Don Vandervort
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Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years, as Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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