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airheatman
airheatman, HVAC Technician
Category: HVAC
Satisfied Customers: 8067
Experience:  Furnace, A/C and heat pump specialist.
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My gas hot water heaters pilot light will not light. It is

Customer Question

My gas hot water heater's pilot light will not light. It is 4 years old and this happened once before. A local plumber told me about a tiny switch at the bottom that you press. It's a thermal switch and he said it had to do with safety. Problem, I can't remember the sequence in pressing this switch and it's not written in the instructions on the heater. I have family coming TOMORROW and no hot water.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: HVAC
Expert:  airheatman replied 5 years ago.

airheatman :

Does the pilot light, just will not stay lit when you release the button?

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

No, it will not light at all.

airheatman :

Does it have a spark ignition ot pilot you light with a match?

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

Ignitor button you push that is supposed to make a spark - similar to those on outdoor gas grills

airheatman :

Sounds like a pizio ignitor, Have you tried cleaning the ignitor with fine sandpaper?

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

No, I wouldn't know how to even begin to do that. .. ie where to clean and would have to make a trip to Home Depot to get sandpaper.

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

I may just push in that little pin at the bottom --- seems like it can't do any harm, right?

airheatman :

If you look inside, do you see a spark when pressing the ignitor?

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

It's hard to see in there at the same time you are pressing the ignitor, but I can try that.

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

I'll go try that and see if I see a spark at all.... if I can see in that tiny window.

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

After about 6 or 8 times, I saw what I think was a faint glow when I hit it

airheatman :

The little thermal swicth that has the wires on it, does it have a reset button in center to push in and reset?

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

I'm not positive exactly what the thermal switch is, but there is a tiny white plastic protrusion about the size of a pencil that has a tiny - pin sized white plastic spike in it's center. It's what the plumber on the telephone told me to press about 6 mos. or a year ago when this happened. But should the switches on top be on PILOT setting when I push this reset ?? Or does it matter ?

airheatman :

I would turn the valve knob off.Push in on the switch to see if it will reset,Then turn knob to pliot,hold down the pilot button and click the igniter 4 to 6 times to see if it will light

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

The valve knob? This is the round one that goes to PILOT or OFF, right?

airheatman :

THat is correct

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

OK - am off to try that

airheatman :

I will be here

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

That button would not push in. It had a little bit of play in it, but I could not get it to actually push in. Then the red button you have to push first before the igntitor was hard to line up to even push the ignitor. At last --- and so, same thing, altho I can say it does have a spark, but no pilot will come on, just a spark.

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

This is in a garage and there is an opening to the outside in that closet and a cold draft is coming in there. I may have to remedy that as well, but later

airheatman :

Ok the ignitor is sparking so that is good

airheatman :

Do you see the two wires connected to the thermal switch?

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

Yes, I saw two tiny little wires there.

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

If you are on duty again tomorrow, may I just continue this then? I have been 'messing'**##!! with this thing for over an hour now and my patience is getting thin. Not with you - with this heater ! My OLD one worked better!

airheatman :

Can you remove those wires and jump them together just for a test to make sure the switch is good.(In otherwords, bypass the swict.JUST FOR A TES THOUGH)

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

I don't feel comfortable doing that

airheatman :

I understand

airheatman :

Do you have a meter to check continuity on the switch?

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

No, I don't have a meter.

airheatman :

OK

airheatman :

Are you comfortable disconnecting the pilot line and depressing the red button to see if gas is actually coming through the valve? Only briefly though and make sure area is vented.

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

I guess I'll have to pay a plumber tech to come next week and tell my family to take their showers before they come. Thanks for your patience and help.

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

I'm not comfortable disconnecting a pilot line.

airheatman :

I understand, we do it on a regular bases and are familiar,but I understand

airheatman :

You could have some debris in the orifice, not allowing the gas through to the pilot

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

Even if I disconnecte d pilot line - which I don't know where it is/ I wouldn't know if there was gas coming thru a valve and would be scared thinking I was doing that. I guess it's why plumbers make a good salary.

airheatman :

LOL

airheatman :

Service techs don't get much credit , but it is an art to troubleshoot

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

Seriously, I guess I'm happy to have a job, but I work at a large university and I make under 30K a year. Again tho, thanks very much for trying to help me thru this.

airheatman :

Thanks for allowing me to assist you

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

YES, troubleshooting over an internet would be very difficult I think.

JACUSTOMER-t37i5hnz- :

Thanks for trying to help me.

airheatman :

It is often harde than doing in person, as most people don't know the parts and don't have meters, but we do our best

airheatman :

Thanks for letting me try to help and if satisfied , please leave positive feedback. Merry Christmas

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