Rheem Water Heater Pilot Light Won’t Light

Rheem Water Heater pilot light won’t light if there is dirt and debris into the gas chamber. The accumulation of dirt into the gas chamber will stop the air from entering and smother the pilot light. 

And if air can’t go into the gas chamber, the pilot light will not come on as flame requires oxygen. As a result, you can’t get any hot water from the water heater because the pilot light won’t stay lit. 

The only way you can light the pilot light is to clean the gas chamber area. And this guide will let you learn how to get rid of dirt and debris from the water heater gas chamber. So, stay in tune till the end. 

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Rheem Water Heater Pilot Light Won’t Light [Easy Solution]

Your Rheem water heater pilot light won’t light due to a dirty gas chamber. If there is dirt and debris accumulation in the gas chamber, air can’t flow into the chamber. The dirt accumulation will choke out the oxygen level from the air and smother the flame. And you know the flame needs oxygen and without oxygen, it will extinguish the flame or pilot light. 

Besides, Rheem water heater pilot light won’t stay lit if the igniter is at fault or its wiring gets damaged or loose. 

If you want to keep the pilot light stay lit, you should make sure the gas chamber is clear of debris and dust. Otherwise, it will cause problems and keep your water heater from lighting if you have a bit of dirt accumulated in the chamber. 

You should remove the burner and pilot assembly to clean the gas chamber. Below, I will show you how to clean the gas chamber that will help keep the pilot light on. 

How To Clean Gas Chamber Area On Rheem Water Heater?

Before starting the cleaning workflow, ensure you turn off the power, gas, and water supply. Then, follow the below step-by-step process: 

Step 1. Unhook the Lines From Gas Control Valve

Unhooking the lines from gas control valve
*Unhooking the lines from gas control valve*

Start with disconnecting all the lines like thermocouple connector, gas supply tube, and others from the gas control valve. You can use an adjustable wrench to detach those lines from the gas valve. 

Step 2. Remove Gas Burner Cover & The Burner Assembly

Once you detach every line leading to the gas control valve, it’s time to pull out the bottom cover panel to access the burner or pilot assembly. 

Unscrewing the gas burner cover panel
*Unscrewing the gas burner cover panel*

Use a screwdriver to unscrew the four nuts that hold the panel in place. Don’t forget to store those nuts as you need them again. 

Removing the burner assembly
*Removing the burner assembly*

Afterward, remove the burner assembly and keep it aside.

Step 3. Clean The Gas Chamber Area

Now, it’s time to get rid of dirt and debris from the gas chamber of your water heater. Use a shop-vac to suck away every speck of dust from the burner chamber. Don’t forget to use a torch light to illuminate the dark area so that a single speck of dirt can’t escape. You can also apply a cleaning solution that will help you deep clean the gas chamber. 

Cleaning the gas chamber using a shop vac
*Cleaning the gas chamber*

After cleaning the gas chamber, put the burner assembly back into the gas chamber. Then, replace the gas chamber cover to its place and screw it. Next, connect every line like thermocouple connector and gas supply tube with the gas control valve. 

Finally, turn on the power and open the gas shut-off valve. Also, open the main water supply valve or cold inlet water valve. Before starting the Rheem water heater again, you must relight the water heater. 

How To Relight Rheem Water Heater?

You should relight the pilot before starting the water heater. Hold down the pilot button on the gas control valve to let the air in the gas line bleed and get some gas down into the chamber. 

I highly recommend you do it because as long as there is air in the gas chamber area, it will be challenging to light the water heater. Now, follow the below steps to relight the pilot: 

  • Rotate the gas control knob counterclockwise to set it to the off position.
  • After 5 minutes, turn the gas control knob clockwise to set it to the pilot position. 
  • Locate the igniter button and keep depressing it while pressing the gas control knob all the way in. Repeat this several times until the status light begins to blink. 
  • Once the status light is blinking, take a look through the sight glass window to verify the pilot is lit. 
  • Now, release the gas control knob and set it to the desired setting. 


Why can't I light the pilot light on my water heater?

You can’t light the pilot light on your water heater if the thermocouple is bad. You can easily verify whether it’s malfunctioning or not. Just use a multimeter and set it to Ohm scale.

Then, attach the lead of the multimeter to the thermocouple’s wires. A healthy thermocouple should give a reading between 650 to 850 millivolts. If you don’t get this voltage reading, you should replace it to light the pilot light again.

How much does it cost to replace a water heater thermocouple?

It will cost you around $15o to replace the thermocouple of your water heater professionally. However, the price of this part is only $20. I recommend you do it yourself if you are electrically inclined to save the labor cost.

What would cause a pilot light to keep going out?

A dirty or damaged thermocouple, bad igniter or dirty gas chamber will cause a pilot light to keep going out.

Read Also: 

Rheem Water Heater Troubleshooting Manual

Rheem Water Heater Gas Valve Problem 

Rheem Water Heater Blinking Light Codes


The dirty gas chamber is the main culprit that causes your Rheem water heater to not light the pilot light. 

So, clean the gas chamber following the step-by-step guide I mentioned above. 

Sometimes, the pilot light of your water heater will not stay lit if the thermocouple goes bad or the igniter wiring gets damaged. So, inspect both the thermocouple and igniter or its wiring. If needed, replace them. 

Once you clean the gas chamber and reassemble everything, relight the pilot light before starting the water heater. I hope it will solve the pilot light issue.

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