Learning how to light and set the temperature of a gas water heater can be tricky. First, let’s go over some safety tips. As with a gas furnace, you never store paint or anything that is flammable close to the gas water heater. Leaking fumes can ignite or even explode from heat or sparks generated by the heater. If you smell gas, or if the water heater is sitting in water, don’t attempt to fix it yourself; call the gas company.
There are two different types of water heaters. One has an electronic ignition, and one has a standing pilot that has to be lit manually; it will produce a blue flame when operating the right way. You can’t light the one with the electronic ignition. To light the standard pilot, you must first turn off the gas at the top of the control box. There is a round knob called the gas control knob, Turn it to the off position.
Then on front of the control box is a temperature control knob. Turn it to the lowest position. Wait fifteen minutes to allow any gas to escape. Then if there is no smell of gas, remove the access panel on the outside and read the instructions that should be located on the cover or near the cover. If at any time you smell gas, stop, leave the area and move to the outdoors or a neighbor’s home, and call the gas company. If there is no detectable odor, you can remove the inner access cover.
You will see two metal tubes. T he larger tube is the pilot burner. Now turn the gas control knob to the pilot position. Next press the reset button next to the gas control knob. If your gas water heater doesn’t have a reset button, depress the gas control knob. Hold it down and use a lighter to light the burner. A barbecue lighter works best for this purpose; make sure you keep your face turned away while lighting the burner. Hold down one minute after the pilot is lit.
Now remove your lighter and let the reset button pop back up. It should remain lit. Replace the inner and the outer access panels. Next, turn the gas control knob to the on position. Now you will need to set the temperature to 120 or so. You will hear a whooshing sound when the burner ignites. This is normal. If for some reason the pilot won’t remain lit, try it one or two more times. But if it won’t stay lit , turn off the gas and call the gas company.
A gas water heater won’t work due to several causes, including bad or damaged wiring, dirt and rust build-up, or a gush of wind that blows out the pilot light. Always make sure you have a big enough water tank for your family. It takes about ten or fifteen gallons a day per person; otherwise, you will be waiting a while to get hot water to shower with.