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How do I keep my water heater pilot lit?

I have a 30 Gallon A.O. Smith gas water heater and the pilot wont stay lit. I checked my gas lines and the gas is fine. Any ideas?

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  1. Comment by Tex
    November 2, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

    One idea is that there is air in the lines and all you can do about that is keep trying to light it until the air is gone and it lights, be patient it may take a while. Another idea is that your thermocouple is bad and needs replacing. Another idea is that the gas control valve is bad, for that you will need to call a plumber to fix it.

  2. Comment by Drewfuss
    November 2, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

    Most likely your thermocouple has gone bad. it’s a small brass tube with a sorta bulb like thing on one end the other end screws into the gas valve. You can buy a universal one at any hardware store for just a few dollars.

  3. Comment by michael
    November 2, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

    If you have an older A.O. Smith, the thermocouple could be bad. This is a safety device that senses heat from the pilot flame and allows the gas valve to feed gas to the pilot. I’ve also seen a dirty pilot orfice cause a “lazy flame” or weak pilot flame that will not stay lit. Solutions-replace the themocouple and clean pilot orfice.
    Now some newer water heaters have an electrical component (a resister or diode?) built into the thermocouple assembly. When these fail, the pilot won’t stay lit and the solution is to buy a new pilot or thermocouple assembly, which is more expensive then a regular thermocouple.
    Good Luck

  4. Comment by Herbert S
    November 2, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

    One of the biggest reasons to check out first before buying a thermocouple is to check to see it the pilot lit is too close to the burner. I have seen this many times after some one attempted their own repairs.

    What happens is the pilot light works just fine and then when the main burner comes on, it sucks the flame of the pilot light out because the main flame draws in a lot of air.

    This is also called a back draft when fighting brush fires. But without getting too technical, check this out first.


  5. Comment by Brian
    November 2, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

    It is likely the thermocouple .THIS SHOULD BE DONE BY A PRO !!!ITS GAS !! DANGER !! It is an easy fix . Can cost about $12. for the part, But you may have to remove other parts, like main gas tube to the burner and pilot as well. All are fragile and lets not forget your working with gas ! If you have never done it or watched it done.. well don’t do it! It will cost about $80. for a pro to do it and will take them 10min. They can also make sure that every thing is working fine . If you can’t afford to hire one .. and you must do it ..know this.. Turn main gas valve off leading to water heater and gas valve on heater. allow 5min for all gas to pass and vent.First remove wire to lighter plunger if it has one.. If you don’t know what that looks like ..Stop and get someone who dose ! Remove cover(s) to burner. Then using the proper size wrench remove the small nut at the right side of the valve that has the copper tube attached . then remove large silver tube in middle (may be backward threads look at them to see ) then remove the pilot nut .. You must be careful not to bend any of the tubes..most of all the pilot tube when removing them. Some moving around will be need to pop down and out..not allot ! Then the whole burner will come out.At this time you should note how every thing looks and where it is placed most of all the end of the thermocouple.You need to put the new one in that same place..Note how the copper part is routed..all must be put back in the same way. Remove old thermocouple by pulling but not so hard you move anything else. a pair of pliers may be used..Some time this is where people screw things up so be careful ! After removal open packaging and easily unroll thermocouple. push in new one and make sure that the tip or a part of the silver looking end will be in the flame when you put it all back together. If its not it will not work and you will have to do this all over again.then put everything back in the reverse order .. Note things need to be tight but it is easy to over tighten!! The thermocouple threads are easy to cross so be gentle ! There will be a longer time to hold down the pilot when starting to clear out air in the line .. but not so long you fill the area with gas !! if lighting pilot lights you will have to hold the button down till the thermocouple is hot enough to allow the gas valve to open . Telling you how do do it don’t mean you should do it !! If you don’t know you can do it ..DON’T !! ITS GAS !! DANGER !!

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