Multiple appliances around your home could contain a pilot light. Most commonly are furnaces, boilers, or water heaters, but even some fireplaces could house a pilot light. If you’re unfamiliar with pilot lights, you may be unaware that they can at times go out.

If your pilot light goes out, you can relight it after taking the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s safety, including your own. The pilot light going out shouldn’t be common, so if it happens more than once a season, you may need to contact a specialist to take a look at the water heater.

If you want to learn how to relight your pilot light after it’s gone out, learn some of the causes for pilot lights to go out and the precautions you should take when dealing with your pilot light, keep reading.

What Can Cause a Pilot Light to Go Out?

The most common cause of pilot lights going out is simply running out of propane or the gas being turned off. Running out of fuel is a relatively easy fix that requires you to purchase a new propane tank or turn on your gas and relight, but there could be some other issues at work, especially if the pilot light has gone out more than once in a short amount of time.

Here are some of the following reasons why your pilot light may have gone out:
  • Faulty thermocouple
  • Low gas pressure
  • Intense winds or a strong draft
  • Broken or loose gas valve
  • Faulty heat exchangers
  • Faulty venting
  • Kink or twist in the flex tube

If you suspect any of these reasons to be the cause of your pilot light going out, other than high winds, contact the manufacturer of your water heater and request a technician come out to your home and diagnose the issue. You don’t want to go poking around your appliance without any previous knowledge or experience in repair.

Precautions to Take Before Relighting Your Pilot Light

With gas being involved, you want to take all the necessary precautions, especially when an open flame is involved. There is a precursory checklist you can run through and steps you can take to ensure everyone in your household is safe, including yourself.

Here are the steps you want to take and the things you want to look out for when preparing to relight your pilot light:

  1. First, ensure there is no gas odor or any odors that could mask the smell of propane, such as musty or damp smells. If so, do not attempt to relight the pilot light or use any flames, lights, or other devices that can cause sparks, such as cell phones, landline phones, or electrical appliances.
  2. If there is any smell of gas, everybody should be evacuated as soon as possible.
  3. Once everyone has exited the home, report the potential gas leak to your propane dealer or 911.
  4. If possible, shut off the main gas supply valve. Most valves can be turned clockwise (to the right).
    Check manufacturer instructions if you’re unsure, but don’t stay in the house longer than necessary.
  5. Ensure that no one returns to the household until a qualified service technician or EMT says that it’s safe.

If there is no odor or suspicion of a gas leak, you can still take some precautions to keep the household safe.

  1. All unnecessary people, especially children, should exit the house before attempting to relight the pilot light– this ensures their safety.
  2. Make sure the area you’re working in is well-ventilated. Ventilation will prevent any gas from accumulating. You’ll also be able to smell if any gas, propane or otherwise, has gathered at the floor level.

How to Relight Your Pilot Light

Now that you’ve taken all the precautions necessary to ensure that you and your household are safe and that there is no gas leak in the home, you can attempt to light the pilot light. Sometimes, the manufacturer will have a step-by-step process to relight your pilot light right on the water heater.

If the water heater does not have instructions, you can follow this process to relight your pilot light:

  1. Make sure to turn off your water heater at the thermostat or power switch.
  2. Turn the gas valve control knob to where it says “pilot.”
  3. If you can’t move the pilot light controls, do not force it or use oil— both can cause damage that may lead to gas leaks.
  4. Press the red button while at the same time holding a match to the pilot burner. If the end of the small light tubing is too far to reach, you might use a long match or hold it with a pair of small pliers. These tools may be behind a small panel on the appliance.
  5. Once you’ve relit the pilot light, keep holding down the red button for 60 more seconds. Once you let go and the flame remains lit, you’ve successfully relit your pilot light.
  6. If the light goes out again, you’ll need to contact a professional technician to take a look.
  7. Turn the gas valve control knob to the selection that says “on.”
  8. Return any doors or panels that were moved to access the inner workings of the appliance.

After refilling the propane tank or turning the gas on, relighting the pilot light is easy and uncomplicated. Attempting to relight when a more serious issue is at play can be extremely dangerous. Risks include severe injuries or death, fire, and explosion. These risks are why you should avoid re-attempting to light your pilot light or try and tinker with the water heater.


If you have never lit a pilot light, it will benefit you to become acquainted with the procedure for your water heater, so you do not have to call a technician out to your home every time it goes out. Always keep up with regular maintenance and servicing of your water heater, and that will help avoid some more complicated problems that would require a specialist.


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