A pilot light provides a little flame that turns on your water heater's gas burner. Without a lit pilot light, your water heater won't work properly, and you have to contend with frigid water in your home.
Check out some reasons why your pilot light goes out.
A thermocouple is an electrical safety device that maintains an open gas valve when you light the pilot light. Once the pilot light in your water heater goes out, the thermocouple closes the gas supply to the burner assembly. The pilot light usually produces an electric current that triggers the thermocouple.
Unfortunately, the thermocouple can malfunction and cause your pilot light to go out. Over time, dust and dirt can build up on the thermocouple and obstruct the electric current flow from the pilot light.
Consequently, the thermocouple won't sense the pilot light and closes the gas valve as a safety precaution. In some cases, the thermocouple may bend away from the pilot flame, which also keeps the gas valve closed.
You can clean your thermocouple to improve your water heater's efficiency. First, close the gas valve to prevent gas leaks and wait for the device to cool. Then, clean the device with a microfiber cloth or sandpaper to remove the grime. If neither a dirty nor a bent thermocouple is to blame for your water heater issues, then you need to replace the whole thing.
Flex Tube Troubles
A flex tube ensures gas flows smoothly to the burner assembly of your water heater. Unfortunately, a kinked or clogged flex tube won't supply gas effectively to the burner for combustion. In fact, a kinked flex tube is a common reason that might prevent the burner from igniting, even if you have a functional thermocouple.
Unlike thermocouple issues, flex tube issues aren't so common. So, if your water heater malfunctions, first check the thermocouple's condition before you inspect the flex tube. To fix a kinked flex tube, simply open your water heater to access the flex tube and straighten the part that impedes gas flow.
Also, check for deformities such as holes and cracks in the flex tube. A damaged flex tube can cause gas leaks, which reduces the gas supply to the burner. With little gas available for combustion, the pilot light flickers or goes out. You should install a fresh flex tube for efficient gas supply to your water heater.
If all these attempts fail to keep your pilot light lit, call a technician for expert water heater diagnosis and repair. Your technician first also inspect your unit thoroughly to rule out any issues that may cause failure before they start on any repairs.
For more information, contact a water heater service near you.