If the pilot flame on your gas storage hot water system needs relighting, the instructions below show you how. These instructions will work for most gas storage hot water systems.

To remove the access panel on a Rheem water heater, pull the bottom straight up. The whole panel should move up about 5mm. You can then pull the bottom of the panel towards you and the rest will be obvious.

rheem hot water gas control valve

With the panel out of the way, you can see the gas control valve like the picture above. The dial will usually be set at 5.

Gas hot water ignition

Turn the dial around to the picture of the spark as shown above.

relighting gas hot water

Press and hold the dial down and simultaneously press the piezo igniter.

If the pilot flame lights, keep holding the dial down for 10 seconds before releasing it, and scroll to the end of this article for what to do next. If the pilot flame will not light, keep reading.

In the picture above, a yellow arrow points to the Piezo ignition button (which is not uncommonly broken and not working). Sometimes the reason the igniter doesn’t work is because the ignition lead (indicated by the orange circle) has fallen off or is broken. If you have a dog and you leave the access panel off your water heater, I’d say your ignition lead has about one day to live before mr doggie finds it and eats it (at least, this was the experience of one of my customers). If your ignition lead has already been eaten by a dog or your piezo igniter just won’t work for any other reason, you can use a barbecue lighter instead.

Where do I point the barbecue lighter?
I’m going to give a fairly thorough answer to this question. At the bottom of the gas control valve you have a thin copper lead roughly in the middle, a large pipe on the left and a small aluminium pipe on the right.

The thin copper lead extends to the thermocouple.
The larger pipe supplies gas to the main burner.
The aluminium pipe supplies gas to the pilot burner.

To ignite the pilot flame using a barbecue lighter, you need to have your lighter flame between the thermocouple (end of copper lead) and the pilot burner (at the end of the aluminium pipe). These are both very difficult to see because they are tucked away and it’s dark in there but once your pilot flame is lit, you should be able to see a small blue flame coming from the pilot burner.

Update 7/6/16 : the above explanation was used in the absence of a suitable photo. Below is a picture of the main burner complete with pilot assembly and gas control valve all attached to it. I have added a yellow arrow to show you where you should try to put the flame of your barbecue lighter to ignite your pilot flame.


Whether you light your pilot flame using a barbecue lighter or the piezo igniter, you will need to continue holding the dial down on the gas control valve for 10 or more seconds before releasing it. If the pilot flame goes out each time you repeat this procedure then you have a fault that needs attention by a gasfitter.

If your pilot flame stays lit when you release the dial, turn the dial to 5 and listen for the sound of the main burner igniting. When you’ve heard the main burner light up and stay lit, replace the access cover and you’re done!

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