What to Do if Your Water Heater Pilot Light Keeps Going Out

What to Do if Your Water Heater Pilot Light Keeps Going Out

It can be frustrating if your water heater isn’t working correctly because the water heater pilot light keeps going out. This article will help you determine why this is happening and offer solutions on how to fix your water heater pilot light. With the right know-how and the trusted experts at Frank’s Repair Plumbing in your corner, water heater problems will be a thing of the past.

What Is a Water Heater Pilot Light?

A pilot light is a small blue flame, usually found on older gas appliances like water heaters or furnaces. It’s meant to stay lit 24 hours a day, so it’s always available to combust the gas that’s released to your water heater’s main burner when it’s turned on. The flame from the main burner allows your water heater to provide hot water to your house. 

While a properly functioning pilot light is important year-round for hot showers, it’s especially important during the cold winter months, for which Amarillo is known. If your water heater pilot light keeps going out, there could be several causes, which we will explore further below.

5 Signs Your Pilot Light Isn’t Working Properly

1.The flame isn’t blue

If your pilot light flame is yellow, this likely means that it isn’t receiving enough oxygen, which may be a sign that your air intake valve is clogged. Without adequate oxygen in the flame, the thermocouple unit in your water heater won’t get hot enough, and it will likely shut off the gas supply, causing the pilot light to go out. 

2. The flame is inconsistent

If the pilot light keeps going out in your water heater or the light is faint or flickering, this could be a sign that there’s an accumulation of dirt or other debris near the pilot light. Having your water heater serviced regularly can help prevent this issue.

3. The flame is split

A pilot light flame that’s split in two is a sign that there’s dirt or debris in the mouth of the pilot. Over time, this debris can accumulate and limit air or gas flow, which causes a weak flame that’s easily extinguished. 

4. The flame is weak

A weak flame may indicate a clogged pilot assembly, which needs to be cleaned professionally. If the pilot assembly is clogged, the flame won’t burn off all of the carbon monoxide produced during combustion, which can then leak into your home. 

5. There is no flame

There are several possible reasons why your water heater pilot light keeps going out, including issues with your thermocouple, clogged pipes, or condensation. Without a pilot flame, your heater will not be able to ignite the gas to heat your water.

Why Does Your Water Heater Pilot Light Keep Going Out?

A variety of issues can prevent your pilot light from staying lit.

Thermocouple issues

The thermocouple is installed above the pilot light to determine whether it’s lit. As a safety measure, this device will close the gas valve if the flame goes out. A thermocouple has an average lifespan of about 10 years if it has been properly installed and maintained. 

If you have issues with your thermocouple, it might close your gas valve unnecessarily, causing your pilot to go out. If this is the case, the thermocouple may need to be repaired or replaced. 


If there’s a condensation build-up, which is often seen on heaters that have recently been turned on or are filled with cold water, it can drip down and extinguish the pilot flame. In most cases, the condensation will stop once the tank is fully heated to approximately 115°F. If you notice water dripping near your pilot light, keep an eye on the issue, and contact the pros at Frank’s if the condensation continues.

Improper ventilation

Sometimes, a pilot light issue is due to a draft near the water heater. If your unit is located in an area where a breeze can get in — like near a cracked window or a doorway to the outside — the pilot light can blow out. Removing the source of the draft will help. 

Inadequate gas supply

If you have a gas leak or if there is an issue with the gas supply, such as a kink or twist in the tubing or having too much air in the gas line, the pilot light won’t stay lit. These issues must be addressed by a professional.

Soot buildup

Soot, dirt, and grime can build up around the flame area and the air intake valve, causing an inconsistent or weak flame that’s easily extinguished. Weak flames can also cause dangerous carbon monoxide leaks, as this hazardous by-product of combustion is vented inside the home.

Gas control valve problems

The gas control valve is what allows gas to reach the pilot light, and it closes when the thermocouple reads the flame as not being hot enough. If the gas control valve is malfunctioning, it may close even when the pilot light is fine, causing it to go out. 

Water Heater Pilot Light Repair Experts in Amarillo and Beyond

If you are experiencing issues with your thermocouple or notice that the pilot light keeps going out in your water heater, you can count on Frank’s Repair Plumbing for water heater service. We are a family-owned small business, and we care about providing honest, upfront pricing and top-quality service to our customers. 

Our team has served the Amarillo area — including the communities of Pampa, Canyon, Bushland, Dumas, Borger, Fritch, Panhandle, and White Deer — for over 70 years. With our affordable rates and high-quality customer service, you can trust us to assess your water heater pilot light issue, offer cost-effective solutions, and get you back in hot water in no time.

We’re available for emergency services 24 hours a day — contact us online to book an appointment with one of our experts.