4 Reasons For Rheem Water Heater Pilot Light Won’t Stay On!

By - Rajib Ahmed

Updated -

A faulty Rheem water heater pilot light can be inconvenient as it will stop the heater from lighting or staying lit.

If your Rheem water heater light doesn’t stay on, there could be several reasons for the malfunction, and you’ll have to know the fault before attempting to fix it. 

A faulty thermocouple or a gas valve malfunction is one of the common reasons why your Rheem water heater won’t stay on. Further, the issue could be from a stopped gas pipe or a draft from a crack in or under the wall. 

Rheem water heater pilot not staying on is a common issue you can diagnose and repair yourself. 

If you’ve been having issues with a Rheem water heater pilot, this article contains all the possible issues and how to diagnose and repair the pilot on your own.

Why Won’t My Rheem Water Heater Pilot Light Stay On?

Rheem's Water Heater Pilot Light Won’t Stay On

There are several reasons why a Rheem water heater pilot light won’t stay on; the good news is that most of the issues can be easily fixed. 

Some of the most common reasons include;

#1. Dirt In the Gas Chamber

If there is dirt and debris in the gas chamber, the pilot light won’t stay on; debris in the gas chamber will make it difficult for air to enter.

And the lack of air in the gas chamber will smother the pilot light because the flame requires oxygen. 

The solution is to clean the gas chamber, turn off the power, water supply, and gas, remove the burner cover and the pilot assembly, and then thoroughly clean the gas chamber areas.

#2. The Gas Line Is Blocked

Debris, dirt, insects, or even tree roots can clog the gas lines; also, if there are dents within the pipe, it can impede gas flow, in addition to rust and corrosion can also be a cause.

If the blockage in the gas line isn’t extensive, you can use a plastic probe to remove it yourself, but unclogging a clogged gas line can be complicated and dangerous.

So, it is often recommended that homeowners get a registered professional from a company to look at the clogged gas line instead of further complicating the issue.

#3. There is Breeze in the Room

A slight breeze or wind can often blow out the pilot light. So, if the water heater is near a window, a fan, or any other wind source, it will be difficult for the light to remain lit.

Or, if your home is near a windy area, the breeze can enter the house through a chimney which can also make the pilot light go off. 

When this is the case, you can light a candle or a match and see where the flame shakes to know the source of the breeze.

If the breeze comes through your window, you can try weatherstripping. Also, you can weatherstrip outside doors to prevent any breeze from disturbing the pilot light. 

But, if the breeze comes into the house through the chimney, you can stop it from blowing out the pilot light by installing a chimney cap to contain the breeze.

#4. The Thermocouple Is Broken

The thermocouple is a vital component of the Rheem water heater system; it controls the gas flow to the burner.

And if the thermocouple breaks, the gas supply to the pilot shuts off, and then it is impossible to light the pilot. 

However, even if you suspect the thermocouple, don’t be in a hurry to replace it, as it may not be the cause of the issue. Always check the thermocouple first.

You can use a multimeter to check the thermocouple; if there are over 25 millivolts on the thermocouple, it is functioning very well, and there is another issue with the water heater.

In that case, you may need to clean the thermocouple thoroughly instead of replacing it entirely. Scrub it with a scouring pad or sponge to remove the debris.

Some issues with the Rheem water heater pilot light are common. 

The table below contains some water heater pilot light issues and their solutions.

Rheem Water Pilot Light IssuesSolutions 
Broken or dirty thermocoupleClean or replace your thermocouple
Dirt or debris in the gas chamberClean out the gas chamber
Blocked gas lineRemove the debris in the gas line 

How to Troubleshoot Rheem Water Heater Pilot Light?

If a Rheem water heater pilot light does not turn on or stay on, you will not have hot water. You must first determine the issue if your water heater pilot light does not work.

You’ll have to disconnect your pilot light, the primary gas burner tubes, and the thermocouple to troubleshoot. Ensure you do this, as working on a connected water heater is unsafe.

Remove the cover for the pilot assembly and burner when you’ve disconnected the water heater.

After opening the pilot assembly and your burner, ensure your gas chamber is clean. The water heater can have some debris in it.

And the dirt can smother the flame, which will cut off oxygen to the pilot; always clean out the Rheem water heater regularly; you can clean the combustion chamber with a shop vac.

Also, your pilot light may not stay on and can contribute to the igniter. So, if your water heater pilot light is inconsistent, remove your pilot assembly converter.

When you remove the converter, check the wire at the bottom of the igniter; it is called the fuse line. If the fuse line is loose or damaged, it can be responsible for the pilot light failing. 

How Do I Replace My Rheem Water Heater Pilot Light?

If the pilot light on your Rheem water heater isn’t staying lit, you may have to replace your thermocouple; the first thing you’ll need is a repair kit.

First, turn off the gas valve on the heater to the off position. Also, you must shut off the valve that controls the pipe that supplies gas to the water heater. 

Once you’ve done that, follow the steps below to replace the Rheem water heater pilot light.

#1. Remove the Manifold Light on the Burner Assembly

You will find the combustion chamber of the Rheem water heater behind a cover, and the cover is sealed with a gasket. 

Remove the manifold cover on the burner assembly to access the combustion chamber. The cover protects the chamber that holds the burner, thermocouple, electronic ignition, and pilot.

Next, remove the screws that fasten the cover plate of the burner assembly manifold; nuts, screws, or some tamper-resistant fasteners may fasten the panel. 

#2. Take Out The Burner Assembly 

Push the burner supply tube slightly to release the manifold, the pilot tube, and the thermocouple connections. 

Take the burner assembly out of the combustion compartment, and be careful so you don’t damage the internal parts of the assembly.

If you can’t easily remove the burner assembly, check to see if there are any more screws that you haven’t removed.

#3. Take Out The Cover Plate Gasket 

Remove the old gasket carefully from the manifold cover plate if it is not damaged, and you’d like to use it again. If it is too old or damaged, purchase a replacement. 

Clean off the metal surfaces between the cover plate and the water heater.

#4. Take Out the Thermocouple 

Pull and twist the old thermocouple from the mounting bracket; it will come out quickly if you twist and pull firmly. Do not bend or deform the pilot and thermocouple connections.

Please remove the old thermocouple, and pull it through the rubber grommet seal from the inside or through the opening in the manifold assembly cover.

If none of those work, you can cut the old thermocouple to remove it, but only if necessary.

When you buy a replacement for the thermocouple, take the old one with you to buy an exact replacement. Also, buy a gasket for the manifold plate cover.

#5. Install a New Thermocouple

You can install the new thermocouple from outside using the grommet or the opening in the manifold cover of the burner assembly. 

Next, insert the thermocouple inside the mounting bracket until it seats fully or clicks into place.

Always position the tip of the thermocouple so that the pilot flame will cover the top 3/8 to ½ inch of the thermocouple’s tip.

#6. Reinstall the Burner Unit

Place the burner in the combustion chamber and seat the unit properly, then install the new manifold gasket cover. You can install the old one if it’s still in good condition.

Then reinstall the cover assembly, do not make the screws or the fasteners too tight; when you’re all done, reconnect the gas control valve. 

Why Won’t New Pilot Light Come On In Rheem Water Heater?

If your water heater uses a pilot light to turn on, it is very frustrating when the pilot light won’t come on or stay lit. And new water heaters use an automatic intermittent pilot system.

Since the unit has a standing pilot with a constant flame, the unit will only work if the pilot stays lit. 

However, the pilot light won’t come on in the new Rheems water heater for several reasons.

#1. There Is Residual Gas In the Unit

Many water heaters have a safety mechanism that doesn’t allow the pilot from lighting if there are any gas fumes inside the unit.

So, if there is residual gas in the new Rheem water heater pilot, it won’t light. Before you ignite the pilot light, turn off the gas and allow the unit to sit for at least five minutes.

You don’t have to turn off the gas valve; turn the pilot control knob from the on to the off position. 

#2. Clogged Pilot Tube

If the pilot tube is clogged, the pilot light will not ignite. The pilot tube is a small metal tube, and it is responsible for supplying the gas that is required to keep the pilot lit.

Occasionally, debris clogs the pilot tube, and gas does not flow to the pilot light. And if no gas flows to the pilot light, it will not ignite.

If that’s the case, use a thin wire or a needle to unclog the pilot tube and then attempt to relight the pilot and see if it works. 

#3. Broken Automatic Igniter 

Pilot lights usually have an automatic igniter button; pressing the button ignites a small spark that ignites the gas and lights the pilot flame. 

Sometimes, the igniter wears out and no longer produces a spark when you press the button, so there is an issue if you don’t see a spark each time you press the button.

In that case, you’ll have to use matches or a lighter stick to ignite the pilot instead of depending on the pilot.

Sharing is caring! Spread The Love!

Why Trust Our Information

At Homeguideinfo.com, we are dedicated to delivering precise and trustworthy information. Our content is meticulously developed and validated by a panel of Expert Contributors, adhering to strict Editorial Guidelines. Our commitment is to ensure that you receive thoroughly researched and expertly crafted information.