heating FAQ

How To Light A Water Heater?

Short Answer: Turn off gas, wait 10 mins for gas to clear. Locate the control knob, turn to "Pilot." Remove access cover if needed. Ignite the pilot with a long lighter while holding the control knob down for a minute. Set desired temperature, replace cover. Ensure the area is well-ventilated throughout.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and not as professional advice. Following the instructions provided herein is at your own risk. Lindemann is not responsible for any damage, injury, or loss incurred as a result of attempting to follow the steps outlined in this article; if unsure or unqualified, we strongly recommend consulting with a certified technician or professional service provider.

The comfort and coziness of a home are often heightened by the warmth trickling from our water heaters, especially during chilly mornings or cold seasons. One question that frequently pops up is, “How do I light my water heater?” In this article, we unravel the process in simple, easy-to-follow steps.

Tools Required

Having the right tools on hand will make the process of lighting your water heater smoother and safer. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Long-Reach Lighter or Matches: A long-reach lighter or long matches are preferable as they provide a safe distance between your hand and the pilot light while igniting.
  • Screwdriver: If your water heater model has an access cover, a screwdriver will be necessary to remove it and gain access to the pilot light area.
  • Flashlight: A flashlight can be handy to illuminate dark corners, helping you clearly see the components you’re working with.
  • Adjustable Wrench: Although not always necessary, having an adjustable wrench on hand can be useful if any fittings need tightening.

Safety Precautions

Lighting a water heater involves interacting with gas and fire, which inherently carries a risk. Therefore, adhering to safety measures is not just advisable but essential. Here are some crucial safety precautions to observe:

  • Ventilation: Ensure the area around the water heater is well-ventilated. Adequate ventilation helps dissipate any gas fumes, reducing the risk of inhalation or combustion.
  • Flammable Materials: Clear the vicinity of the water heater of any flammable materials such as paper, cloth, or cleaning chemicals. A clean, clutter-free area minimizes the risk of accidental fires.
  • Gas Leak Awareness: Be vigilant for the smell of gas. If you detect a gas odor, it’s crucial to immediately evacuate the area and contact your gas provider or a professional technician. Do not attempt to light the water heater if you suspect a gas leak.
  • Fire Extinguisher: Have a fire extinguisher within arm’s reach. While the chances of a fire are minimal when the procedure is followed correctly, it’s always prudent to be prepared for emergencies.
  • Protective Gear: Wear protective gear such as gloves and eye protection to shield yourself from potential hazards.

Step-by-Step Guide To Light Your Water Heater

Navigating the process of lighting your water heater can initially seem daunting, especially if it’s a task you’ve never tackled before. However, with a bit of guidance and adherence to safety protocols, it’s a chore that can be managed with ease.

Step 1: Locate the Gas Regulator and Control Knob

The first step in lighting your water heater involves identifying the gas regulator and the control knob on your unit. The gas regulator is a crucial component that ensures the safe operation of your water heater by controlling gas flow. The control knob, usually located on the gas line leading to the water heater or on the heater itself, is integral for managing the ignition process. Familiarizing yourself with these components is the cornerstone for the steps that follow.

Step 2: Turn Off the Gas Supply

Safety should always be your priority; hence, turning off the gas supply is a crucial step. Rotate the control knob to the “Off” position to halt the gas supply to your water heater. It’s advisable to wait for about 5-10 minutes to allow any residual gas to dissipate. This waiting period is crucial to prevent any potential hazards associated with accumulated gas.

Step 3: Remove the Access Cover

Some water heater models have an access cover that needs to be removed to reach the pilot light. Use a screwdriver to undo any screws holding the cover in place. Carefully set aside the cover and screws in a safe area to prevent misplacing them, as you will need to replace the cover once you’ve lit the water heater.

Step 4: Turn the Control Knob to Pilot

Now that the area is clear of residual gas, it’s time to prepare for ignition. Turn the control knob to the “Pilot” position. This action readies the water heater, allowing gas to flow to the pilot light area, setting the stage for ignition.

Step 5: Ignite the Pilot Light

With the control knob set to the “Pilot” position, hold down the knob and use a long-reach lighter or match to light the pilot. It’s essential to keep holding down the control knob for about a minute to ensure the thermocouple heats up adequately, which in turn keeps the pilot light lit after ignition. The consistent flame of the pilot light is vital for the subsequent operation of your water heater.

Step 6: Set Your Desired Temperature

Once the pilot light is stable and continuously burning, it’s time to set your desired temperature. Turn the control knob to your desired temperature setting; a moderate and energy-efficient setting is usually between 115 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The right temperature setting ensures you get the perfect balance of comfort and economy in your water heating costs.

Step 7: Replace the Access Cover

Now that your water heater is functioning with its new settings, it’s time to replace the access cover if you had removed it earlier. Carefully place the cover back onto the unit and use the screws you set aside to secure it in place. Ensuring the access cover is securely fastened helps maintain the safety and functionality of your water heater, ensuring it operates efficiently without any hitches.


Lighting your water heater doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Following these steps will help ensure you do it safely and efficiently. However, if you encounter any challenges or prefer a professional touch, the team at Lindemann is always ready to assist. We service and install chimneys, fireplaces, and HVAC systems to keep your home cozy all year round. Feel free to reach out to us for any heating or cooling solutions.