American Standard Water Heater Pilot Won’t Light [Reasons + Solutions]

American Standard water heater pilot won’t light issue mainly relates to the heater’s bad pilot assembly. Either pilot is not getting enough fuel or the pilot tube termination might bend away from its position. 

american standard water heater pilot won't light

Other major sources of the problem include:

  • Clogged or bad thermocouple.
  • Tripped thermal limit switch.
  • Defective spark electrode.
  • Or, faulty water solenoid.

Whatever the reasons are, head over to our article to learn all the effective solving methods to fix the issue within a snap.

Quick Fixes For American Standard Water Heater Pilot Not Lighting

Before moving to the detail, we will walk you through a quick table highlighting all possible solutions at a glance to make your further reading easier.

Probable ReasonsPossible Solutions
The pilot not getting gas> Open the gas shut-off all the way.
> Bleed the air in the gas line.
> Clean the clogged pilot tube.
Bent pilot tube termination> Replace the damaged pilot tube.
Thermocouple issue> Clean the thermocouple.
> Ensure the thermocouple holds its place.
Bad thermocouple> Replace the faulty thermocouple.
Tripped thermal limit switch> Reset the thermal switch.
Defective heater solenoid> Replace the bad gas control valve. 

American Standard Water Heater Pilot Won’t Light [Reasons + Solutions]

Here is the complete guide explaining all common reasons behind your water heater pilot light problem with effective fixes. Scroll down!

Note: read our guide Bradford’s white water heater won’t light.

1. Pilot Not Getting Gas

If you are noticing that your water heater sparks but won’t light, be sure the pilot isn’t receiving enough gas pressure here. Due to the low inlet pressure of the pilot, it won’t heat the thermocouple sufficiently, leading to an interruption in lighting the heater. 

In this circumstance, there are a few possible issues that can cause this problem. Head over to the below reasons with effective fixes:

i). Gas Supply Interruption

It is a quite common phenomenon that your heater unit might be going through gas supply issues. Either the gas shut-off valve is not on or the pilot knob on the gas control isn’t in the pilot position. 

Another issue could be there is not sufficient gas pressure in your heater. No worry. Let’s check every suspecting factor to get the pilot on right track. 

How To Fix:

First, check and make sure the gas shut-off valve is turned on. It should be perpendicular to the gas line. 

Next, come to the gas valve and check the pilot knob to see whether it is turned to the pilot position. Press down the pilot knob on the valve all the way.

Then take a gauge to verify the gas pressure of your heater. If you are using propane, the pressure should be in between 10-13” water column, and up to 5-8” water column is recommended for natural gas.  

ii). Air In The Gas Line

Air in the gas may also be the source of the pilot’s problem as the pilot might not get sufficient gas due to this. Here you need to purge the gas line to get our trapped air from the line.

air in the gas line

The process is quite straightforward. Move forward to the pressure relief valve to your heater and pop off the lever of the valve for some while as shown in the picture. 

iii). Kinked Flex Tube

The flex tube works as a medium to continue the gas flow to your water heater. At times, it might be kinked, interrupting the flow of gas and causing pilot light problems. 

If really that is so, straighten the kinked tube and replace it if required.

iv). Clogged Pilot Tube

On top of all the above, higher chances are the pilot orifice is blocked by dirt and debris.

clean the pilot tube with a needle

Or, there might be an obstruction within the pilot tubing. That’s the fact, the pilot won’t get enough fuel to light at all. 

How To Fix:

First, ensure the pilot tube is not kinked or bent or kinked from any portion. If so, straighten it out all the way. Now, take compressed air and blow out the obstructions from the tube.  Or, you may use a needle and gently slide it down to the pilot hole to remove the stuck debris.

2. Bent Pilot Tube Termination

Gas and propane-fueled water heater use the pilot flame to ignite the burner. Here it works as a striker or a match to light the fire.

But to do so precisely, it is important to firmly hold the pilot tube in the pilot assembly. Only then it will envelope itself with the thermocouple to keep staying lit. 

In case, the pilot tube termination is bent away from its position, the thermocouple couldn’t sense the heat from it. As the result, it shuts off the gas valve and does not light the heater.

How To Fix:

First, inspect the pilot assembly to see whether the pilot tube is bent away outwards as in the below picture. 

bent pilot tube termination

If yes, we recommend not trying to bend it back in position as it could break off the pilot end. You have to replace the damaged pilot tube termination with the new one.  

3. Malfunctioning Of The Thermocouple

In case of any type of pilot light issue in a gas-operated water heater, malfunctioning of the thermocouple is the root culprit to blame. The thermocouple mainly works to detect the pilot flame. 

After sensing the pilot flame, it gets heat and sends an electric signal to the gas valve in millivolts. Based on that, the gas valve opens and continues the ignition process. 

A bad thermocouple won’t receive enough heat from the pilot which prevents it from staying light.

There are a few factors that you need to consider for a malfunction of the thermocouple. Here you go with the right fixes:

i). Clogged Thermocouple

Commonly, the thermocouple may clog with the shoots and carbon deposits, created by the flame. If that is so, the dirt particle interrupts sending the signal to the gas valve. 

clean the thermocouple with emery cloth sandpaper

The gas valve shuts off which is when you will notice the water heater pilot light is out.

How To Fix:

First, make sure the thermocouple is enough cool to touch. Take a piece of emery cloth sandpaper or non-soaped steel wool and sand the thermocouple end. Keep sanding it unit it gets clean and then wipe it down with a  lint-free cloth. 

ii). Thermocouple Gets Out Of Position

Due to natural wear and tear, the thermocouple can get out of its position. A wrongly positioned thermocouple will never sense the pilot flame to keep the gas valve open.  So it is essential to hold it in the correct position.

It is quite simple. Just push the thermocouple back in place until it is locked into position. But don’t give too much pressure as you would break the element.

4. Bad Thermocouple

If everything has been ruled out about thermocouples, it is fairly common that the element is defective itself.

bad thermocouple

To light the pilot and keep it lit,  the need for a well-functioning thermocouple is quite obvious. 

How To Fix:

The only way to deal with the broken thermocouple is to replace the thermocouple with the new one. But before that, you can do a confirmation test by measuring the voltage of this element. 

A good thermocouple will give the voltage reading up to 20 to 30 millivolts, indicating that it will help to produce a healthy pilot flame. If the voltage is out of this range, consider replacing it. 

Contact a certified plumber if you are technically inclined to replace it.

5. Tripped Thermal Cut-Off Switch

The thermal cutoff switch works as an electromechanical safety device in a water heater system. The device is designed to shut off the power to the water heater when the temperature around the heater and burner rises to unsafe levels. 

tripped thermal cut-off switch

As the heater overheats, it opens and closes the electrical contacts going to the heater valve. Due to that, the gas control valve closes and the pilot fails to light.

Besides raising the temperature, there might be a loose wire connection, which could also lead to the malfunction of the thermal cut-off switch.

How To Fix:

First off, ensure there is no loose or worn-out wiring connection to the switch. Then you have to reset the switch to get back it to normal operation.

The thermal limit features a red button that is likely resettable. Simply press the button and the switch will be reset.

You may also need to test the continuity of the switch with a multimeter. If there is no continuity, be sure the switch should be replaced. 

6. Bad Spark Electrode

If still, the pilot is not lighting even after attempting the above steps, be sure there might be a problem with the spark igniter. All the new gas water heaters, including American Standard, use a spark igniter to light the pilot light.

bad spark electrode

When you are pressing the piezo igniter or sparker, it produces an electric spark that lights up the pilot.

But to do so, the electrode needs to be grounded properly with the gas control valve. If there is a too-long gap between the pilot head, the spark fails to jump across the spark rod.  

Other issues could be:

  • Worn out Spark wire.
  • Build up carbon dust on the spark rod.
  • Loose or corroded connections to the terminals.

How To Fix:

Go through the below steps to fix the issue:

Step 1: First up, ensure the spark rod is about 1/8” away from the ground or pilot head. If not, adjust it.

Step 2: Verify the spark wire. Replace the worn-out ones and also ensure that it’s grounded in the right place.

Step 3: Next pull out the orange connector to the spark wire. You will see a little connection there. 

 pull out the orange connector to the spark wire

Reseat the connection firmly. If it looks corroded, rub the connection with sandpaper. 

Step 4: Take compressed air and blow out the dust debris from the spark button assembly and the wire.

Step 5: At times, the spark igniter itself is the culprit that is not generating the spark. Replace the bad electrode with the help of a professional.

7. Faulty Water Heater Solenoid

If everything else is working well, a higher possibility is that your water heater solenoid valve is not working as it should. It is mainly located inside the gas control valve where the thermocouple end meets. 

Solenoid uses magnets to open and close valves while the current passes through the valve. Though it is rare, it won’t stay open if the gas valve is faulty. Due to an interruption in the gas supply, the pilot light fails to keep lit. 

How To Fix:

The solenoid uses different amounts of milli-voltage to get energized, thus it is beyond testing. So, the only to get rid of a bad solenoid is to replace the complete gas control valve. We recommended hiring a professional plumber for replacing the gas control valve.

How To Relight Pilot On American Standard Water Heater?

Lighting the pilot on any gas-operated water heater is quite straightforward. Just follow up the below step-by-step instructions to relight your pilot:

Step 1: First off, remove the burner chamber door. Then turn off the control knob of the gas valve to the Off position. Wait for five to ten minutes to allow any remaining gas to clear from the tank.

Step 2: Now, turn the pilot knob on the control valve to the Pilot position. Right then, press the button. This will start the flow of gas to the pilot burner. 

Step 3: While pressing the pilot knob, keep depressing the spark igniter at the same time for about 90 seconds until the pilot is lit. You will hear a click when there will generate a spark to light the pilot.

Step 4: Hold down the pilot for one minute more even after the pilot has been lit to bleed air from the line. Also, it will allow the pilot flame to heat the thermocouple to keep the pilot lit.

Step 5: When all is done, release the knob and set it to your desired temperature position. Replace the access cover. 

How To Tell If Your Pilot Light Is On Water Heater?

Though checking the pilot knob is quite simple, many users still wonder about the process. The pilot light on any water heater is located below the gas control valve, at the base of the unit. 

pilot light is on water heater

Just remove or disconnect the outer cover panel to access the burner chamber. Here you will find a short glass to view the pilot assembly. 

Look through the clear glass and you will see a small flame in the pilot tube. There should have a steady blue flame. If there is no flame, try to relight the pilot.

If still the pilot does not light after several attempts, follow our above instructions to fix the pilot problems or call a professional to assist in determining your best course of action.


How long do American Standard water heaters last?

The facts depend on the proper maintenance of the water heater. If you are regular in cleaning and flushing your gas water heater, it would last up to 8-12 years. Plus, you can expect an electric water heater to last 10-15 years.

Can I light my water heater pilot light with a lighter?

Yes! If your water heater doesn’t have an automatic igniter, you will need a wand lighter to light the heater. After setting the temperature knobs to the “pilot”, depress the control knob. While pressing, light the pilot with a lighter.

Should the pilot light of my water need be blue?

Yes! A bright blue flame is a sign of a healthy flame and the heater is burning efficiently. But in case there is a yellow or orange color, indicates some malfunction in the heater that needs your attention. 

Wrapping Up!

When you are almost ready to use your hot water, nothing is more frustrating than the pilot light is not light. We can understand how much trouble this is and why we have brought a well-proven guide highlighting all the effective solutions for this issue. 

Hope that the complete guide was an informative read for you. All the queries on American standard water heater pilot won’t light should clear now. 

Don’t forget to share any of your remaining confusion regarding this fact through comments. We will come up with the best solution for you!

Note: You can also read how to fix the Ge water heater pilot light won’t stay lit.

About William

William is the founder of He has real life practical skills in fixing smoker & heating appliance issues. He loves to share his knowledge & helps others in fixing their appliances & saving their money. William firmly believes that anyone can repair his or her unit with the correct guidance & knowledge. See more at about us.

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