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Question DetailsAsked on 9/17/2017

Hot water tank won't lite

My gas was turned off for a day when it was turned back on my hot water tank pilot would not light I replace the thermal coupler and it still won't light.. when I hold down the pilot button I'm not smelling any gas is that normal or should I smell something

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1 Answer


1) Have you checked that the gas valves (outside at meter and inside on appliances) were turned back on ? When the gas supply is shut off, all those are supposed to be turned off, so gas cannot potentially flow the pilot being on. When the gas was turned back on (assuming this was gas company or a repair contractor doing this) they are supposed to come in and check for gas leaks right after turning the gas back on, and relight all pilot lights and test those gas appliances which do not have standing pilots for functionality.

2) If gas is not flowing at any appliance, not just the water heater, then could e the pressure regulator needs to be reset. Commonly, maybe always, when the external gas pressure is cut off, the regulator drops to a no-flow condition as a safety measure - and has to be reset usually with a piston or knob in the circular regulator just on the inlet side of the meter). I will not go into how to do this because different makes work differently, and doing it wrong, on at least some models, can rupture the regulator membrane and break it. If not getting any gas flow, then the utility (if they were doing the work) or the contractor should be called to come back and reset it as needed.

3) Assuming the gas lines were opened up during the repair, especially if left open for some hours, a lot of the gas will exit and be replaced with air - so you have to hold down the PILOT button (or heater gas control valve set in the PILOT or LIGHT position, depending on brand) for some time. Takes about 5 seconds of flow just to flush the air out of the supply tube from device gas control valve to the pilot orifice, and if the supply lines in the house were disconnected for repairs or modification and especailly if they have been left open for some time so let air in, with about 20' of gasline length (in my case) from meter to appliances takes about 60-80 seconds of pilot gas flow before the air is flushed out of the lines and pure gas start flowing, to light the pilot. Might well take a minute or two of flow in some cases with long lines - remember the pilot is drawing a very small amount of gas flow through a 1/8" or so tubing - but the gasline is typically 3/4", so the gas flow through the in-house supply line is moving VERY slowly when trying to light the pilot.

If this is the case, if using a match or open ignitor flame to light the pilot (no self-igniting sparker) and you move the flameback and forth just above the pilot orfice, the flame will flicker/move as the air comes of the tube - just is non-flammable until the air has been pushed out of the line by the natural gas.

If this does not solve it, or if unable to tell if flowing in lines, I do not recommend this to a homeowner but a pro would shut off the shutoff valve at the appliance, disconnect the gas supply flex tubing at the heater, then turn the valve back on a bit to feel/smell if gas is coming out of the tubing. If yes then the problem would have to be in the gas valve on the appliance - check owner's manual - there may be a pressure reset button that needs to be pushed if gas supply has been cut off.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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