What’s a Pilot Light? Is Mine Off?

By February 8, 2022February 16th, 2022Blog
Plumber

As a homeowner, you will have to learn a little bit about every feature of your house. This education includes learning about the pilot light on your water heater to ensure you can check it for simple issues.

Even though you’re not an expert in the operation of your water heater, a basic understanding will tell you when you need to call a Carrollton, TX, plumber for service.

What Is the Pilot Light?

If you’re unfamiliar with gas water heaters, you may not even know what a pilot light is or how it functions. While you might think it’s a small light bulb due to the confusing name, it’s actually a small flame that’s located just inside the bottom of the water heater.

It stays lit all of the time, and as you will learn, a pilot light that won’t stay lit requires professional plumbing repair services.

The pilot light is located close to the burner on the water heater. As sensors indicate a need to heat the water, gas is pushed through the burner. The pilot light is there to ignite the gas, allowing the burner to heat the water. Without the pilot light, you would need to ignite the burner with a match or cigarette lighter each time you wanted hot water.

How to Tell Your Pilot Light is Out

It’s usually pretty easy for a Carrollton, TX, homeowner to tell when their pilot light is out. The most obvious indication that the pilot light isn’t lit is that you can’t get hot water from your faucets or shower. An extinguished pilot light may not be the only problem, but this is usually the first thing you should check before calling a plumbing repair service.

When you approach your water heater, the first thing you should look for is the indicator for the gas control valve. The indicator light will change color when there’s a problem, and there will be a chart to show you what each color means. The color representing an extinguished pilot light should be on that chart.

The third way to verify that your pilot light is out is by doing a visual inspection. This inspection will require kneeling in front of the heater and pulling off the plate that covers the burner chamber. As you look into the chamber, you should see a small orange or blue flame. If it’s dark, you have verified that the pilot light has been extinguished.

What Causes Your Pilot Light to Extinguish?

There are several reasons that a pilot light may go out. Before you call for plumbing repair, it can help to know a little something about these causes. This knowledge will help you understand any issues your plumber needs to discuss with you after they inspect your water heater.

Drafts

Even if you have the protective plate in place to protect the burner chamber, a draft can still blow out the pilot light. If this is the case, you may only need to reignite the flame.

Gas Pressure Changes

While this is a rare occurrence, a change in gas pressure in the line can create a lapse that will extinguish the flame. This occurrence is another cause that can be fixed simply by lighting the pilot light.

Bad Thermocouple

The thermocouple is a sensor that shuts off the flow of gas if it detects an extinguished pilot light. If the sensor is dirty or faulty, it may think the pilot light is out and cut off gas flow as a response. This cut-off causes the pilot light to go out as the flow of gas is interrupted. If your pilot light goes out multiple times, this may be the cause.

Poor Airflow

If you remember your high school chemistry classes, you know that combustible air is needed to maintain a fire. Poor airflow where your water heater is located may make it difficult to keep your pilot light lit.

This issue requires immediate plumbing repair to ensure the situation isn’t resulting in a buildup of carbon monoxide in your Carrollton, TX, home.

How Can a Plumbing Repair Service Help You Maintain Your Water Heater?

Anytime you experience a problem with your pilot light or the functioning of your water heater, you should call a Carrollton, TX, plumber. They can fix any problem you may be having with your pilot light and can also fix leaks in the unit, remove sediment in the bottom of the tank, and address gas flow problems.

Your plumber can also advise you when you should start budgeting for a new water heater. Depending on the quality of the heater and the size of the tank, a residential water heater can last from 6 to 13 years. If your water heater is 11 or 12 years old, you should already be planning for a replacement.

Your plumber can help you choose the best water heater for your situation, but there are a few things to consider.

Look for a water heater with the Energy Star logo to ensure you’re buying an energy-efficient model. You can also downgrade to a smaller water heater. If you’re single or your adult children have moved out, you may not need a larger unit that uses more fuel to operate.

Should You Shut Off Your Pilot Light?

Some Carrollton, TX, homeowners shut off their pilot light to conserve energy and water. While this won’t damage the weather heater, it can become an inconvenient process to reignite the pilot light each time you want hot water.

The best way to conserve is to lower the temperature setting on the water heater. This lowering will help you use less gas, and you probably won’t even notice the slight drop in water temperature. You will put less stress on your water heater, and that can help you extend its life.

When you do need service for your water heater or other plumbing components, contact Sirius Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We perform inspections, repairs, and new equipment installations to ensure all of your plumbing needs are met. Reach out to us today.

Author Mark King

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