How To Tackle A Gas-Fired Hot Water System That Won't Light

Posted on: 29 February 2020

Gas-powered hot water systems are widely used in homes and commercial building across Australia and are prized for their reliability and longevity. Unfortunately, they can still suffer from technical problems and mechanical malfunctions from time to time, and a gas hot water heater that won't light at all can be hugely inconvenient. 

If your gas-fired hot water system refuses to light, there are a number of potential problems that may be causing ignition failure. You may be able to fix the cause of the problem yourself, but if your ignition problems are caused by more complex issues, you should call in a professional hot water system repair service as soon as possible to correct the problem and get your hot water system up and running.

No gas flow

If your gas-fired hot water heater refuses to light, there may simply be no gas to ignite in the first place. Gas flow problems are relatively rare but can occur when the main valve that controls gas flow into the main ignition chamber malfunctions and fails. This valve can be replaced, but it is a complex job that should only be done by a professional. Replacing control valves for older boilers can be more expensive than simply purchasing a new boiler, so make sure to get an accurate quote from your repair service first.

If none of the gas-powered appliances in your home are functioning, you have a problem with your home's main gas supply. This may be a sign of a potentially dangerous gas leak, and you should contact your gas provider's emergency contact number ASAP.

Dirty pilot light

The pilot light is one of the most essential parts of any gas-fired water heater and is responsible for igniting the heater's gas supply. However, the burning gas that constantly surrounds the pilot light while the heater is active can leave soot deposits on the pilot light itself. These soot deposits can build up inside the pilot light tube over time, blocking gas flow and preventing the pilot light from lighting.

A dirty pilot light is relatively easy to clean, and any soot deposits inside the pilot light tube can be removed with a hairpin, needle or other long, thin object. However, pilot lights tend to be small and relatively fragile, so you should call in professional assistance if you are worried about accidentally damaging your water heater.

Faulty thermocoupler

The thermocoupler in your gas-fired water heater is a simple device that shuts off the gas supply automatically when the pilot light goes out, preventing dangerous gas leaks. If the thermocoupler malfunctions, it can cause the pilot light to go out even when gas is flowing through the ignition chamber, preventing your heater from lighting.

Thermocoupler failure is probably the most common cause of ignition failure in gas water heaters. Fortunately, thermocouplers can be replaced fairly easily, and many hot water systems come with step-by-step replacement instructions on how to replace them. You will have to partially disassemble the system's burner, and potentially other components, so DIY novices may wish to call in a professional repair service such as Smart-Safe Electrical Services to handle the work.

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