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How to Light Your Water Heater

When your water heating system is working properly, there should be no need to hire a professional to come and light your unit. If you have an older unit that requires you to work with an open flame, you might want to consider getting a professional in the city of Miami to help you out. It's also a good idea to hire a professional if you suspect the pilot light has gone out as the result of damage to the unit.

At any time, if you smell gas, you should open all the windows, keep all the lights off and leave the house. Call the gas company or fire department once you're safely outside the house. When dealing with gas, it's important to always take the necessary precautions to ensure that you don't have an accident. Don't be afraid to call a professional if you simply don't feel comfortable lighting the unit on your own.

Understanding the Pilot Light

The pilot light serves to ignite the gas that is used to heat your water. It's possible to go for months without even realizing there is this tiny flame that is constantly lit in your basement. If you suddenly notice that you no longer have hot water, it's important to rule out all of the possibilities that could be causing your water to turn cold.

While there are systems that automatically relight the pilot light when it goes out, these systems tend to be very expensive and can cost more than three times the cost of a standard gas model. Considering the pilot light rarely has to be lit, this is an expense that is generally not considered worthwhile.

 Miami, FL Lighting-water-heatersHow Thermocouples Work

If you ever wondered why your water heater doesn't emit a steady stream of gas when the pilot light goes off, it's because of a component known as a thermocouple. When the thermocouple senses that the water heating system is lit, a signal is sent to the gas valve. This tells the gas valve to open the flow of gas.

If there is no pilot light sensed, then the thermocouple won't allow gas to pass through the system. If the thermocouple breaks, then your system won't work. While you can get a thermocouple replaced in Miami for less than the cost of a new system, it might be a good idea to replace your water heater instead of getting a water heater repair.

Most commonly, a thermocouple will stop working when the probe has deteriorated or there is a lack of oxygen. The coil on the thermocouple must also be directly in contact with the flame to work properly.

There are a few types of thermocouples on the market:

The standard style, also known as a universal water heater thermocouple, screws into the base of the gas valve. An exact replacement can be found by removing your old one and comparing it to new ones in a store. Many of the older style units and the modern ones with a sealed burner compartment use this type of thermocouple.

Thermal Cut-Off (TCO) style thermocouples have a resettable thermal shutoff switch that is integrated into the thermocouple itself. This type of thermocouple has extra safety features built in. If there is a blow-back or flash fire, the TOC can act to shut down the gas flow. It looks like a watch battery, and it's a good idea to upgrade to one of these newer models if you are looking at an otherwise expensive repair. There are TOC units that can reset after the system cools down and those that don't reset and need to be replaced. The non-resettable style is generally less expensive, but you'll have to pay for a repair each time it goes out.

Lighting the Pilot on Old Heaters

You have an older style unit if you have an access panel at the base of the tank. These pilot lights must be lit with a match and are generally more than eight years old. Start by smelling for gas, if you don't smell gas you can continue to light the pilot. If you're at all uncomfortable completing this process on your own, call a professional to do it for you. They can inspect the unit and make sure there aren't any additional problems.

Begin by turning the on/off control knob to the lowest setting. Then remove both of the inner and outer access panels. From there, you'll want to press and hold the pilot button down. If you don't see a pilot button, it's possible that your model doesn't have one. In some models, the on/off control knob has to be pressed down when it is set to pilot.

Look for a small silver tube coming out of the base of the gas control valve. Light the end of this tube with a match. You'll need to hold the pilot button down for up to 30 seconds after lighting the pilot. Release the button. If the pilot light doesn't stay lit, you need to try lighting it again. The thermocouple has to be warmed up before the pilot will stay lit.

 Miami, FL Lighting-water-heaters-2Lighting the Pilot on a New Heater

Newer water heaters make it easy to light the unit. You'll want to start by setting the temperature control setting to its lowest setting. Set the on/off control setting to the pilot position, then depress the hot water unit pilot button and hold it down. Press the spark generator down until you hear a click. You'll see a spark and the pilot light should ignite. Continue to hold the pilot light for 30 seconds after lighting the pilot. Set the on/off knob to the on position. Set the temperature you want and listen for the burner to fire up.

Make sure that the air vents on the unit are clean. If they aren't clean, the unit won't function well. It's a good idea to have a professional check your unit regularly to make sure it is in good working order. The gas control knob may have to be replaced if the unit shuts down due to poor air flow.

A Caution About Turning the Burner On

After lighting your pilot light, you should wait before you turn on the burner. Many people have been burned in the face and eyes due to a blowback from the burner. The first step is to wait for any gas that might have accumulated in the burner chamber to clear out. Flames can roll out of the access opening when the burner is fired up. Always replace the access panels before you fire up your burner. After replacing both the outer and inner access panels, turn the on/off control knob to the on position. Set your temperature, and you should hear the burner light up.

Your pilot light could have gone out due to a draft, fan or air traveling across the burner chamber. It's more likely that this could happen on a windy day. It's also possible that the pilot orifice is clogged or the gas valve has gone bad. Hiring a professional to provide you with a water heater repair can help you get the issue resolved safely.

For superior service in Miami, FL, give Falcon Plumbing a call at (305)-251-7333.

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