Bradford White Water Heater Won’t Light [7 Easy Solutions]

The leading reasons for Bradford white water heater won’t light include carbon deposits on the pilot light and malfunctioning of the thermocouple. Shoots build-up on the pilot tube interferes with the pilot’s ability to light, and the defective thermocouple fails to generate the safe circuit to light the pilot and turn the water heater off.

bradford white water heater won't light

Other major reasons for this issue are broken electrodes, faulty igniter, defective gas control valve, broken flex tubing, and defective pressure switch.

To correct this problem, we need to concentrate on the cleanliness of the pilot and replace the damaged thermocouple. If these two don’t resolve the issue, then we will move to other suspect elements. 

Follow the below well-proven guide to fix this pilot issue effectively. 

Bradford White Water Heater Won’t Light [7 Easy Solutions]

The pilot light is an essential element of any water heater to continue the ignition system. But the problem starts when the pilot is not lit and interrupts to the heat of the water. 

Before moving to the details, let’s have a glimpse at the pilot light and all about its functions. 

Note: You can also read how to fix Bradford white water heater beeping problem.

What Is A Pilot Light And How Does It Work

The pilot light is a small device on the water, which is referred the heart of the furnace. It is like a small flame to light the gas and ignites the main burner. When heating is required, the gas control valve starts releasing the gas and ignites the burner with the help of the pilot light.

Besides lighting, the pilot light heats the thermocouple. Once the thermocouple is heated, it creates a small amount of electricity to keep open the gas control valve. 

By this, the gas can flow easily. If the pilot light is defective, the thermocouple will remain cool and won’t provide electricity to open the gas valve causing the unit to shut down. 

Why Is The Bradford White Water Heater Pilot Not Lighting

Here we have explored all the responsive factors for the water heater, not the lighting issue with the quick solutions methods. So, keep scrolling: 

1. Carbon Deposits On Pilot Light

If your water heater is not lit, the pilot is surely blocked by carbon deposit. After long wearing and tearing, the pilot light clogs with the shoot and eventually creates a restriction in the gas flow.

 A dirty pilot opening always prevents the unit from starting lighting. To stop this interference in the pilot light, you need to clear the obstructing debris from the pilot. 

How To Clean Pilot Tube On The Water Heater

Here are the needed steps to clean the pilot light.

  • First up, turn off the gas supply to your heater. Wait for some time to let the pilot tube cool.
  • Disassemble the heater and remove the pilot light.
  • Now start cleaning the tube using the wire brush or stiff bristled brush.
  • Brush away the shoot and carbon build-up from the tube.
  • You need to scrape clean the interior surfaces of the tube.
  • If needed, wipe away dust using a soft cloth or compressed air
  • After cleaning, reassemble the pilot and test it. 
  • Also, experts recommend cleaning the pilot every six months for good maintenance of this sensitive heating part. 

2. A Broken Electrode Or Anode Rod

A broken electrode can also be the culprit behind the pilot’s not lighting issue. Almost all modern water heaters, including the Bradford water heater, have an electrode or integrated anode rod which is used to light the pilot flame. 

broken electrode or anode rod

This electrode sends intermittent high-voltage sparks after pressing the igniter switch that lights the pilot. Anyway, if the electrode is faulty or broken, it will fail to release the spark. Lack of a spark, the pilot will not light the flame.


  • Locate the anode from the hot water outlet of the tank.
  • Loosen the nut on the union that holds the anode rod and separate it.
  • Remove the anode rod by disconnecting it.
  • You will find the anode rod is corroded with sediment. It indicates the element is defective and needs replacement.
  • Replace the faulty anode rod and install the new rod there. 
  • Contact any certified plumber for precisely doing this. 

3. A Faulty Piezo Igniter

Almost all gas water heaters feature a piezo igniter. It is mainly used to light the main gas burner. Pezo igniter works as a push-button igniter. 

replace the faulty igniter

When the button is pressed down, it releases intermittent high-voltage sparks through an electrode, which ignites the gas. But in the case of a defective igniter, it fails to produce the sparks. 

The problem starts when the heater igniter gets insufficient voltage.


  • It will be best to test the igniter electrically using the multi-meter.
  • You have to ensure that the igniter gets the voltage needed. 
  • If not, replace the defective igniter.

4. Defective Gas Control Valve

The gas control valve is an essential element of the water that allows the pilot to be ignited. The lighted pilot heats the thermocouple that sends a signal to the valve. 

defective gas control valve

Then the valve allows the burner to operate and heat the water. A problem with the gas control valve will not let the pilot light. Most often, the valve may wear out or may be damaged due to a glitch in the safety circuit. 

Water heater control valve replacement can resolve the issue.

How To Replace Faulty Gas Control Valve In Water Heater

First, turn off the gas supply. You will need an open-faced or adjustable wrench. Disconnect the connected lines like the piezo igniter, manifold tube, pilot tube, thermal switches, and thermocouple from the gas control valve.

replace the defective gas control valve

Detach the faulty gas control valve using a threaded pipe. Install the new valve and use the threaded pipe to screw the valve back. Reattach the control valve connections and turn on the gas supply. 

5. Malfunctioning Of The Thermocouple

The thermocouple is referred to as the brain of a water heater. It senses the pilot’s heat which allows gas to flow to the burner.

malfunctioning thermocouple

But when the thermocouple is bad or defective,  it will not sense the flame, and the gas supply will stop to both the pilot and the burner. It prevents the pilot light from being lit.

There are a few signs of a defective thermocouple:

  • Specks of dirt accumulate on the thermocouple 
  • A kinked thermocouple 
  • A broken thermocouple 


  • Turn off the gas shut-off valve.
  • Shut off the control valve and remove the burner access covers to access the thermocouple 
  • Pull out the old thermocouple by unscrewing it.
  • If the thermocouple is clogged, clean it with a sand-paper and scrub off all the dirt. Also, if it is kinked, you need to manually bend or straighten it.
  • Replace the broken thermocouple. 

6. Faulty Pressure Switch

The defective pressure switch of the heater is another leading reason for the pilot light, not lighting. It acts as a safety component on the heater located near the motor and senses the negative pressure created by the draft motor. 

measuring the voltage of the heater pressure switch

When the combustion gases are vented, it then goes to the CLOSED position and allows to continue the ignition procedures. In the case of the pressure switch defection, the ignition process will stop, which fails to light the pilot.


  • When the term comes to a broken pressure switch, you will need to replace the faulty switch and install the new one.
  • Before that, you can measure the voltage reading of this element in an ohmmeter. A defective switch will give a high reading, indicating its defection.
  • Call an HVAC technician to deal with this electrical component.

7. Degraded Flex Tubing

A flex tube is a long tube that attaches the gas controller to the burner and ensures a continuous flow of gas to the burner systems. If the flex tube is damaged, broken, twisted, worn out, or clogged, gas will not be supplied to the burner and interrupts the pilot lighting system.


  • In order to confirm the degraded flex tubing, you need to inspect and check this component.
  • If the switch is only twisted, straightening the tube should resolve the issue.
  • Replace the defective pressure switch and install the new one with the assistance of a plumber. 

How To Relight Pilot Light On Water Heater

The following steps show how to light the pilot light on Bradford’s white water heater:

  • First, set the thermostat to the lowest setting.
  • Set the control knob to the OFF position and press the knob down slightly.
  • Wait for a few moments to clear any gases.
  • Put the gas control knob in the “Pilot” position.
  • Then press and hold down on the gas control knob or the pilot set button.
  • While holding the pilot button, keep holding the piezo igniter until you hear the “click” sound.
  • Once the pilot light is on, press the pilot switch for a minute to heat up the thermocouple and then release the knob.
  • Turn the control knob to the ON position and set your desired temperature.


Is it dangerous if the pilot light goes out on the water heater?

No! It isn’t dangerous if the pilot light is extinguished. All modern water heaters feature a safety valve to sense the pilot light. When it fails to sense the flame, it closes the gas supply and prevents the unit from danger. 

Does a water heater pilot light always stay on?

The pilot light should stay on to keep open the gas valve and to continue the gas supply. If the pilot flame goes out, the thermocouple shuts the gas safety valve, which turns off the burner automatically. 

How do I know if my pilot light is out on my water heater?

You can ensure the pilot light by visually checking for a flame in the burner chamber. Remove the front door to view the burner chamber and check if there has a flame or not.

How long to hold the pilot light on the gas water heater?

To relight the pilot light of your water heater, you will need to hold the pilot knob down for around 30 seconds. Keep holding the ignition button simultaneously to turn on the pilot light. 

What causes the pilot light to go out on the water heater?

The pilot light goes out for a few common causes. That includes low gas pressure, bent or dirty thermocouple, lack of combustion air, and loose or broken gas valves,

Wrapping Words

Hopefully, now all the aspects behind the pilot light issue on Bradford’s white water heater are clear to you. Resolving the issue will not be so tough as long as you will follow the above-assembled guide. 

Still, if you have any questions or queries on any facts, don’t be late to tell us through comments. We will reach out to you as soon as we can.

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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