Plumbing, Heating and Pool Repair Guides

Gas Fired Water Heater Troubleshooting Guide


WeT HeaD KnowledgeIf you own a gas fired water heater and you are having problems with the unit you will have to do something called “water heater troubleshooting” to your water heater. This makes finding out what the problem of the water heater easier then guessing and way cheaper then just replacing random parts.

There are a few common things that will go wrong with a gas fired water heater and these common water heater failures generally will be your problem 90% of the time. There will be cases where you will simply just need to replace the water heart because of age or damage that is not able to be repaired. Spending an hour or two to troubleshoot your gas fired water heater will be well worth the price of a new one. It is always best to hire a licensed plumber to troubleshoot your water heater for you if you feel you are not comfortable doing so.

There is also two different types of fuel that your gas fired hot water heater can run on. The two different types of gas are natural gas and LP Gas which is also known as liquid propane. Even though some of the parts are different in each type of unit, the troubleshooting is basically the same. For example both types of water heaters both have pilot lights.

What we will do is give you a couple of scenarios so that you can properly diagnose the problem and then decide if you are going to repair the heater yourself, replace the water heater, or maybe even call in a licensed plumber for a price or estimate on a new unit.

Problem: ” My hot water does not seem to be hot enough”

Solution: During a season change sometimes it is necessary to adjust the temperature on the water heater thermostat and that can be done by adjusting the dial on the from of the water heater, turning it towards the “hotter” position will get you hotter water.

Problem: “My Pilot Light has blown out, how do I re-light it”

**This is only if you do NOT have a self-igniting unit***

Solution: If your pilot light has blown out you will need to get a match, light or even a small torch to re light the heater. You will also need to remove the from access of the water heater burner tray. Then you will have to turn the dial to “pilot” , hold down the pilot button and then light the pilot light which is right near the thermo-coupling. Once you have the pilot lit , turn the dial to “on” and replace the front access panel of the burner tray on the water heater.

Problem: “My pilot light will not stay lit”

Solution: If your pilot light will not stay lit then this means either your thermo-coupling is bad or starting to go bad. If you have been trying to lite the water heater with a match, then you should consider using a small torch to heat up the thermo-coupling a bit. That will sometimes give the pilot light the chance it needs to stay on. This also can happen if the pilot is not adjust correctly as well.

Problem: “I was told I need to drain and clean my water heater…How do I?”

Solution: To drain and clean your eater heater you will have to do a few things. First you will need to shut down gas to the water heater, then you will need to shut the water supply off, then you will need to connect a hose to the drain valve of the water heater and let the water heater drain, then once its done draining you can turn the water back on and fill the tank. Once the tank is full turn the gas back on and re-light the pilot light.

Problem: ” I ran out of propane and now I have no hot water”

Solution: If you ran out of propane and now your take is full again you will need to re-light your pilot as it went out because you were out gas.

Problem: “How Do I adjust the water temperature on my water exactly to a degree”

Solution: If you want to adjust the temperature on your water heater to an exact degree you will need a temperature gauge or thermometer. Hold the thermometer or temperature gauge under running water from a sink or tub and keep adjusting the temperature dial on the water heater until you reach your desired temperature. You can also hire a licensed plumber to do this for you as well.


  1. Hello,
    i have been having a problem with my gas water heater. My pilot will not stay lit. At first i chnaged the thermo-couple, then the gas control mechanism, then the thermo-couple again and finally the pilot. Even with all these new parts the pilot will turn off, The air release was cleaned and it is not blocked as i used a candle to check if the smoke was pulled out. there is no draft in the room. It is 74 gallon A.O smith that was installed around 1996. The model number is PGX–50 246. Please give any help you can.

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