How to Relight a Water-Heater Pilot Light

If you woke up to a cold shower, there's a good chance the pilot light on your water heater has gone out. Learn how to turn it back on and you'll be known around your house as the keeper of the flame.


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You Will Need

  • Gas-powered water heater
  • Lighter or matches
  • Flashlight (optional)


  1. Gas vapors can be dangerous. Check around the gas heater and lines before igniting the pilot. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the supply and call the utility company or a professional repair person for help.

  2. Step 1

    Turn heat to LOW

    Turn the temperature knob on the outside of the unit to the lowest setting.

  3. Use a flashlight to see the small parts and lettering on the water heater.

  4. Step 2

    Remove front panels

    Find the metal access panel under the knobs near the bottom of the heater and remove it. Also remove the inner heat shield panel.

  5. Look inside for a flame -- if you see one, the pilot is already lit and is probably not the source of the problem.

  6. Step 3

    Turn to OFF

    Turn the gas control knob to the off position and wait a minute for any leftover gas to clear the line. Blow gently through the access door to disperse any remaining gas vapors.

  7. Step 4

    Turn to PILOT and light

    Now turn the control to the pilot setting, and hold a lit match or lighter in the opening near the end of the metal pilot supply tube.

  8. Some models require you to press and hold a button that says pilot instead of a knob.

  9. Step 5

    Hold for 60 seconds

    Press and hold the reset or pilot button on the control box until the pilot lights, and continue to hold it for 60 seconds after the pilot is lit.

  10. Step 6

    Turn to ON

    After 60 seconds, turn the control knob to the on position.

  11. Step 7

    Repeat if necessary

    Repeat the process once if the pilot did not light the first time.

  12. Step 8

    Set temperature

    Replace the access panels on the heater and set the temperature knob to the desired setting. Wait a while for the tank to heat up and you're back in business.

  13. Heating the water for one household typically costs $200 to $600 per year. Cut back on your water heating costs by using less hot water, or switching to a model with the Energy Star logo.