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Why Does My Hot Water Heater Keep Going Out?

By February 3, 2023Water Heater
A hot water heater tank in your home.

Imagine waking up and feeling really good about the start of your day. It’s time to take your usual hot shower and you turn on the shower faucet and wait. After a few minutes, you check the temperature of the water as you are ready to get in. Lo and behold, there is no hot water coming out of the faucet. This means your hot water heater has gone out again. Why does my hot water heater keep going out? There are a few reasons reading the pilot light malfunctioning or a damaged thermocouple.

Let’s take a look below at what all of the possibilities might be.

What Is A Pilot Light?

The pilot light is what heats your water. It is a small blue flame that burns the gas in your water heater to then produce the heat that is necessary to heat up the water. Without the pilot light, you will not have hot water.

Understanding which type of water heater you have will allow you to determine why it keeps going out.

What Causes My Hot Water Heater To Go Out?

Believe it or not, there are a few items that can cause your hot water heater to go out. Anything from damaged parts to dirty parts. Let’s take a look below at what causes your hot water heater to go out.

  • A dirty pilot tube – The pilot tube is what supplies gas to the pilot light. If this tube gets clogged then gas cannot flow to keep the pilot light lit. Clean the tube with a small needle as many times as needed to unclog the tube.
  • A dirty thermocouple – When the pilot light is off the thermocouple closes the gas valve. This is your safety device so that gas does not leak out if the pilot light is turned off. Turn off the gas supply line. Let the thermocouple cool down. Then remove it and use sandpaper to remove all dirt and buildup.
  • A kinked thermocouple – If the thermocouple gets bent or is too far away from the pilot light it will not work properly. Heat must be received by the thermocouple from the pilot light to create an electric current. Look to reposition the thermocouple so that it is straight and in the proper position.
  • A broken thermocouple – Use a multimeter to test your thermocouple. If the reading is less than 20MV you have a bad thermocouple and it needs to be replaced.
  • Issues with the flex tube – If this tube is damaged or clogged, gas will not be sent for combustion. Check your flex tube for kinks and make the necessary adjustments. Also, check to see if there are any potential gas leaks coming from the tube. A reduction in gas for combustion will cause the pilot light to go out.
  • The main control valve is faulty – The water heater’s main control valve is responsible for controlling the heater’s gas and water pressure. The purpose of this valve is to release gas into the pilot light for heating. If the pilot light receives the gas and heats it up the control valve will open further and send more gas. This is a rare malfunction and should be replaced if the issues arise.
  • Bad electrical wiring – If you own an electric water heater and it keeps shutting down, it is likely due to poor electrical installation. Consequently, shut the breaker off for the water heater and call an electrician to repair it.

Other Recommended Maintenance

Now that you know what is causing your hot water heater to go out, you should also read up on if your water heater can freeze. You might be surprised to learn that it can freeze, however, there are ways to avoid this from happening.

Next, part of the required maintenance for a water heater to maximize its longevity is draining it. Be sure to read up on how to drain your hot water heater. This will allow you to keep your water heater in good working condition.

Lastly, keep up with all of the maintenance required for a water heater. If you aren’t sure what’s involved, read up on all of the maintenance ideas for a water heater. This ensures that your water heater maintains its lifespan.

Draining your hot water heater is necessary to maintain its longevity.

When Do I Call A Professional?

If you are having an issue with your hot water heater you are going to need to call a master plumber. They will be able to troubleshoot the issues that you are having and teach you how to maintain your hot water heater. Also, call on your local home inspection team. They can inspect your water heater and full plumbing system to ensure that everything is working well. Additionally, they can recommend a reputable master plumber.


Owning a home can become somewhat frustrating. However, if you maintain your equipment as instructed by the manufacturer you will see the longevity of things like your water heater is maintained. Also, if you need some assistance with a maintenance checklist and seeing what systems in your home need some extra maintenance, call on your local home inspection team. Reach out to Boggs Inspection Services to get your hot water heater inspected during a home inspection in Lacey, WA, and surrounding areas.