How To Light The Pilot On A Bradford White Water Heater

A hot bath is essential in cold weather. That is where a water heater comes in handy—to prevent you from shivering during your shower. They provide a continual hot water supply, so you don't have to worry about running out of it in the winter. But what happens if it doesn't heat your water anymore and if its pilot light goes out? How do you light them back on? Say no more because we have compiled all the information you need.

Generally, for most gas-powered water heaters like Bradford White, you should turn the gas valve knob off before lighting the pilot. Then, wait for approximately five minutes so that the gas clears before doing these:

  1. Turn your gas knob to "pilot." Press and hold the gas knob down.
  2. Light the pilot while holding the knob down.
  3. Hold the gas knob for one minute, then release it slowly. Release the knob and ensure that the pilot is lit.
  4. Turn on the gas knob. Then, listen for a whooshing sound to know if the main burner is igniting.
  5. Put the pilot cover back on.

How you will light the pilot while holding the knob down will depend on what type of combustion your heater has. There are two kinds of combustion pilots; one that can be lit automatically and another manually. That is why you must know how to do it according to what kind of it you have. For this, we have browsed over credible sources for you, so continue reading.

Bradford White residential gas water heater, How To Light The Pilot On A Bradford White Water Heater

How To Light Different Types Of Water Heater Combustion Pilot

Lighting a water heater's pilot light may seem easy. However, though there is a general guideline you should follow to do this, it may vary depending on what type of combustion pilot your heater has. Typically, there are two types of it: a sealed combustion pilot and an open combustion pilot.

Hand turning down water heater thermostat

Sealed Combustion Pilot

You don't need to access the burner in a modern sealed combustion pilot system as it is bolted shut, which only a professional could open.

Your water heater's burner control module offers you everything you need to light the pilot. In addition, you can see the ignition in the access panel through its looking glass, so you don't have to be wary of not being able to confirm if the pilot lights up. 

Here are some directions you must follow to light a sealed combustion pilot:

  1. Get your gas control knob into power.
  2. Press and hold down the knob for several seconds.
  3. Click the electric spark button on your control module a few times to light the pilot.
  4. See if there is ignition while holding down the knob for at least 30-45 seconds. Make sure to do this to heat up the thermocouple because the pilot will go out if there isn't enough heat.
  5. Let go of the control knob and ensure that the pilot is still lit.
  6. Turn on the gas control knob. If your water doesn't heat up immediately, do not worry, as it may be because it has gone too cool.

Open Combustion Pilot

For the open combustion type of system, the process is similar to the sealed combustion pilot, except that you have to light the pilot up yourself.

Here are the steps you must do:

  1. Turn the gas knob to "pilot" to align the notch in the dial with the gas supply button.
  2. Lift out the burner compartment panels to remove them. Then, place any flame source, such as a lighter or a match, into the chamber. Do this to get the flame underneath the orifice of the supply line.
  3. Press the pilot gas supply button and hold it down.
  4. While confirming that the pilot is lit, hold down the pilot gas supply button for 30-45 seconds.
  5. Release the button as you ensure the pilot is lit.
  6. Turn on the gas control knob if the pilot has stayed lit.

Check out this long-stemmed lighter on Amazon.

What You Should Do If Your Water Heater's Pilot Light Keeps Going Out

Hot water heater maintenance and safety check that pilot is working

The pilot light is what produces heat to give you warm water in your home. That is why if it keeps going out even after you try relighting it, you must check for other problems in your water heater.

As a safety precaution, turn the main gas supply valve off as you inspect. Read this list of common issues that cause this dilemma and how to resolve them:

1. Dirty Pilot Tube

Dirt buildup on your pilot tube affects your pilot light because it is what supplies gas into it. Clogged pilot tubes provide little to no combustion gas, so you must thoroughly clean them. Use a needle and gently unclog the pipe until its passage is open.

2. Clogged Thermocouple

The thermocouple is a safety precaution for gas leaks as it closes the gas valve if it senses that the pilot is not lighting.

The pilot light's electric current triggers the thermocouple; if the thermocouple has dirt or debris buildup, it hinders the electric current from the pilot light. This buildup causes the thermocouple to close the gas valve, which cuts off the gas supply to light the pilot.

All you need to do for this problem is to clean your thermocouple. Remember to wait for it to cool off after turning off the gas supply valve. Using new sandpaper, clean the thermocouple by scrubbing all the dirt off.

3. Bent Thermocouple

If the thermocouple is slightly bent or isn't in the correct position, it won't be able to receive heat, and it will close the gas valve. To resolve this:

  1. Turn off your gas supply and heater.
  2. Let the thermocouple cool off before manually straightening it or turning it back to the correct position.
  3. Make sure it is close to the pilot light or that it slightly wraps around the blue flame.

On the other hand, you will have to replace a damaged thermocouple.

Click here to see this Bradford White thermocouple on Amazon.

4. Flex Tube Problems

The flex tube connects the gas controller to the burner, where the pilot light and the thermocouple are located. A damaged or clogged flex tube won't be able to supply gas to the burner. To fix this, straighten the bents on the flex tube and check if there are any damages on it that you can see. 

5. Malfunctioning Main Control Valve

The main control valve manipulates the pilot light and the water temperature. The button on this valve sends a small amount of gas to the pilot head.

Then, the lit pilot sends an electrical current on your thermocouple, which is sent to the valve. When the valve receives the current, it will allow another amount of gas to flow to the pilot. 

That is why a problem in your main control valve may close off your gas valve and the gas supply needed for the pilot to light. If your main control valve's pilot button doesn't pop up after clicking, its control knob is hand to turn, or the water temperature in your home is too hot, it must be the cause.

You cannot fix a malfunctioning main control valve, so you should get a technician to replace it.

Check out this post to learn what to do in case your water heater has a temperature sensor failure:

Water Heater's Temperature Sensor Failure—What To Do?

What Is The Lifespan Of A Bradford White Water Heater?

Bradford White Residential gas water heater

Professionally installed and maintained Bradford White water heaters can last up to ten years. Several other factors also affect your heater's lifespan, such as fuel type, use, and water quality. If your water heater is damaged or needs to be replaced, hire a professional.

Check out this post about the lifespan of water heaters for more information:

How Long Does A Water Heater Last?

When Should You Replace Your Water Heater?

Dirty rusty water flows from the faucet

Even though water heaters can last for a long time, it doesn't mean they can never get damaged enough to need replacing. To guide you in deciding if it's time for a water heater replacement, here are some of the warning signs you should look out for:

  • Old water heater
  • Rusty water from your water heater
  • Rust on water heater valves or pipes
  • Rumbling noise from water heater
  • Leaking water heater

Read this post about how to fix a leaking water heater for more information:

Hot Water Heater Leaking – What To Do?

In Closing

Lighting your water heater's pilot is no challenging task. You only need to determine what type of combustion pilot your heater has and follow the directions to light the pilot.

However, if your water heater's pilot light keeps going off, do not waste your time simply trying to relight it once again. Instead, find out what is causing this problem. Most of the time, these issues are easy to fix; however, if the malfunction is too severe for you to repair, seek a technician for help.

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