Water heaters are essential appliances that provide us with hot water for various daily tasks, from bathing to washing dishes. However, if you’ve ever experienced the frustration of your water heater pilot continuously turning off, you know how inconvenient and discomforting it can be.

In this article, we will explore common reasons why your water heater pilot keeps turning off and offer troubleshooting tips and solutions to address this issue.

Understanding the Water Heater Pilot Light

The pilot light in a gas water heater serves as the ignition source for the burner. When you turn on your hot water tap, the pilot light ignites the gas burner, which then heats the water in the tank. If the pilot light goes out, the water heater cannot function properly.

why does my water heater pilot keep turning off

Common Reasons for a Pilot Light Going Out

  1. Thermocouple Issues: One of the most frequent causes of a pilot light going out is a malfunctioning or dirty thermocouple. The thermocouple is a safety device that senses the presence of a flame. If it doesn’t detect a flame, it shuts off the gas supply to prevent gas from leaking into your home.
  2. Gas Supply Problems: A pilot light may also go out due to issues with the gas supply. This could be caused by a gas valve that’s partially closed or restricted, low gas pressure, or a faulty gas control valve.
  3. Drafts or Ventilation Issues: Inadequate ventilation or drafts near the water heater can cause the pilot light to extinguish. If the pilot light is located in a drafty area, it may not stay lit.
  4. Dirty or Clogged Burner: Over time, dust and debris can accumulate on the burner, disrupting the flow of gas and air. This can lead to the pilot light going out.
  5. Faulty Pilot Assembly: Sometimes, the pilot assembly itself may be faulty, requiring replacement. This is less common but can happen, especially in older water heaters.

Troubleshooting Tips and Solutions

If your water heater pilot keeps turning off, here are some troubleshooting tips and solutions to consider:

  1. Relight the Pilot: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to relight the pilot. This often involves turning the gas control knob to “Pilot,” holding it down, and using a long lighter to ignite the pilot. Once lit, switch the knob back to the “On” position.
  2. Clean the Thermocouple: If the pilot goes out shortly after lighting, the thermocouple may be dirty or malfunctioning. Carefully remove and clean it with a soft cloth or emery paper. If cleaning doesn’t work, consider replacing the thermocouple.
  3. Check for Drafts: Inspect the area around your water heater for drafts or poor ventilation. Ensure there are no open windows or doors that could be affecting the pilot light. If necessary, seal gaps or install a draft diverter.
  4. Inspect the Gas Control Valve: Make sure the gas control valve is in the “On” position and that the gas supply is adequate. If you suspect a problem with the valve, contact a professional plumber or technician for inspection and repair.
  5. Clean the Burner: Carefully remove the burner assembly and clean it of any dust or debris. Be sure to turn off the gas and follow safety precautions when doing this.


A water heater pilot light that keeps turning off can be frustrating, but by understanding the common causes and following the troubleshooting tips and solutions mentioned above, you can often resolve the issue yourself. However, if you encounter persistent problems or are uncomfortable with the troubleshooting process, it’s advisable to seek professional assistance.

Regular maintenance and inspection of your water heater can also help prevent future pilot light issues, ensuring a consistent supply of hot water in your home. Remember, safety should always be your top priority when dealing with gas appliances, so exercise caution and seek expert help when needed.