Pilot Light Maintenance in Water Heaters
LESLIE: Alright, now we’re going to head over to Indiana and chat with Cassandra about a pilot light that keeps going out. Tell us about the situation.
CASSANDRA: Yes, hello. We have a manufactured home and we’ve only been in here about 11 months but every time the wind gets really strong it blows out our pilot light on our water heater.
TOM: Oh, that’s annoying.
CASSANDRA: And my husband goes to work and then I’m here all day with no hot water because I don’t know how to turn it back on.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
CASSANDRA: (chuckles) And we were wondering if there’s a way we can just prevent that from happening.
TOM: OK. Well, perhaps some water heater pilot-lighting training is in order for you (Cassandra chuckles) so at least you can have the warm water without waiting for your husband. But I suspect what’s happening here, Cassandra, is that the pilot light is weak. It might be dirty, it might be obstructed and it’s not strong enough; so that’s why when you get a little bit of wind down in the vent pipe it blows out. So I think that this can be corrected with some service of that pilot line.
CASSANDRA: OK. And we would just need a new pilot line? Who would we call for that? Do you …?
TOM: The next time you’re going to have your heating system serviced, I would have them replace the pilot line at the same time.
TOM: Alright? Shouldn’t be very expensive.
CASSANDRA: OK, wonderful. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Cassandra, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. And get your husband to show you how to light that pilot, will you? (Leslie chuckles) Not that hard.
LESLIE: And would it be your heating maintenance company to look at your water heater or would that be a plumber?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, and typically your water heater does need a little bit of cleaning because, remember, as that gas burns, you …
LESLIE: Well, you get a lot of rust, right?
TOM: Yes, that’s right. You get a lot of rust that flakes off the baffle which actually goes up through the middle of the water heater. The purpose of the baffle is to slow down the flow of gases out so you get more heat out of them, but that baffle is sort of sacrificial in that it rusts and those flakes fall down, sit on top of the burner and build up. So it is an area that needs to be cleaned from time to time and certainly the pilot light and the thermocouple need to be occasionally replaced and that’s what I think Cassandra needs to do here.