How to Start a Gas Water Heater

Gas hot water heaters work through a lit pilot light. The pilot light lights the gas that comes out of the main burner. This flame then heats the water in the water heater. If the pilot light goes out, the hot water heater will no longer heat the water, and you will need to relight it by hand. If your pilot light will not light or will not stay lit, call a professional to check your water heater.

Step 1

Turn the temperature dial on your hot water heater all the way down. Turn off the gas control knob and wait at least 10 minutes to allow any gas to clear away.

Step 2

Turn the gas control knob to the "Pilot" setting. Strike a flame on a long match and hold it to the pilot. Push in the reset button located by the gas control knob and hold it in for one full minute.

Step 3

Release the reset button. The button should pop back out. Turn on the gas control knob and reset the temperature to your preference.


  • If your pilot light has gone out and the smell of gas does not clear from the area, do not attempt relighting the pilot. Call a professional.