Water Heater: How to Light

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: John in Georgia has an issue with a water heater. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOHN: Hi. This is – it’s a gas water heater on – this is my first rental house that I just bought. And so it’s been sitting for a while and what’s happening is it won’t light.
    TOM: OK.
    JOHN: And I can see when I hit – the water heater itself is about a year-and-a-half old. When I hit the igniter switch, I can see the spark. So what I did was I opened the line, the gas line, and I, you know, bled the line out thinking maybe there was just air in there.
    TOM: You know, typically, with a water heater, you have a thermal couple and you have to light the water heater by hand and you have to hold the gas valve down until the thermal couple heats up and then you let the gas valve out, turn it on full and you’re good to go.
    JOHN: Right.
    TOM: But if you have an electronic ignition, then that’s really above and beyond the scope of what you can do yourself.
    JOHN: It’s not electronic; I mean, I’ve still got to hold the button down, the …
    TOM: (overlapping voices) The gas line – the gas – the pilot …
    JOHN: Yeah.
    TOM: … valve? OK.
    JOHN: Right. And then it’s – you know, like on a gas grill where you hit the igniter?
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.
    TOM: And it clicks?
    JOHN: (overlapping voices) A push-button igniter?
    TOM: Mm-hmm.
    JOHN: That’s what’s on there.
    TOM: Alright. So look, here’s what you can do. If you have an igniter there and it’s not working, it’s not getting the spark far enough away …
    JOHN: Uh-huh.
    TOM: … you could probably light it by hand.
    JOHN: OK.
    TOM: If just the igniter is not working. But you’re probably – you’re better off calling a plumber to do this because I don’t want you to stick a match in there without knowing what to do with it.
    LESLIE: Hey, you want to make sure nothing is clogged or leaky or …
    JOHN: Right.
    LESLIE: Before you just run around with a match.
    JOHN: OK.
    TOM: And if it’s just the igniter itself, you’re right; it might be the alignment that’s – you know, the gas is not getting into the right place.
    JOHN: Uh-huh.
    TOM: When the gas valve opens up for the pilot light, that doesn’t throw a lot of gas out so if it’s not connecting the spark it’s not …
    JOHN: Right.
    TOM: … going to light and you don’t want to …
    JOHN: OK.
    TOM: … hold it on too – hold it open too long because that could cause a dangerous condition.
    JOHN: Right. OK.
    TOM: Doesn’t sound like a big deal, though. I think you’re going to get to the bottom of it without replacing that water heater.
    JOHN: OK. Yeah, I shouldn’t; it’s only about a year-and-a-half old.
    TOM: But John, think of this as the first of many repairs in your rental house.
    JOHN: (chuckling) Absolutely. Alright. Thanks for your help.
    TOM: (overlapping voices)  Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

Leave a Reply


More tips, ideas and inspiration to fuel your next home improvement, remodeling or décor project!