How to Turn on a Gas Hot Water Heater


In the bottom part of a gas water heater is a pilot flame tube and a circular burner. The pilot flame tube maintains a small flame underneath the burner. When the temperature of the water within the tank falls below a predetermined temperature setting, gas passes through the burner and the flame lights the gas. To turn on the water heater, the flame tube must be lit.

Things You'll Need

  • Match
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Rotate the gas control knob to the "Off" setting.

  • Allow at least 10 minutes for any lingering gas fumes to dissipate.

  • Pull the access plate off of the base of the water heater to reveal a second access plate, then pull the second access plate out of the heater to reveal the pilot flame tube.

  • Press and hold down the pilot button next to the control knob for 30 seconds, then insert a lit match into the heater and next to the tip of the pilot flame tube with needle-nose pliers. Release the pilot bottom once the flame appears at the end of the pilot flame tube. Note that this process may have to be repeated several times to bleed the tube of any air.

  • Replace the access panels and turn the gas knob to "On."


  • "Ultimate Guide to Home Repair and Improvement"; Creative Homeowner; 2006
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images
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