How to Troubleshoot Pilot Control Valves on a Gas Water Heater


The pilot light on your water heater ensures incoming gas is lit. Lit gas is released from the burners, which heat the water inside the heater tank. The pilot light needs to stay lit at all times to prevent the water inside the tank from cooling. Gas valves connect to the pilot light valve. If either of these valves are faulty or if the thermocouple is faulty, you may need to replace some of the heater components.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Crescent wrench
  • Check the gas valve leading to the hot water heater. Make sure it is in the "On" position where the handle is parallel to the gas line. Look underneath the water heater to ensure the pilot light is turned on. If not, continue troubleshooting.

  • Turn the gas control valve on the side of the unit to ensure it is turned to the "On" position, as indicated on the handle. If so, continue troubleshooting.

  • Turn off the gas to the unit by turning the valve to the "Off" position, perpendicular to the gas line. Look for a sticker near the pilot light that indicates how to adjust the pilot light valve flame. Locate the instructions in your owner's manual if there isn't a sticker. Turn the screw on the pilot light valve according to the instructions to adjust the pilot light flame. Turn the gas back on and turn up the thermostat. If the pilot light doesn't turn on, continue troubleshooting.

  • Turn off the gas to the unit. Loosen the bolts holding the gas line and the thermocouple line onto the gas control valve. Pull out on the lines to remove the burner assembly from below the unit. Rub the thermocouple with an emery cloth then reassemble the unit. Turn on the gas, turn up the thermostat and check the pilot light. If it doesn't turn on, replace the thermocouple.

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