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My Gas pilot light will not stay lit. If I take my hand off the ignition swithch it goes out. I have had the theromostat replaced but, the same thing happens.

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You probably have a bad thermocouple/pilot generator. This is a tube that is in the pilot flame when the pilot is lit. If the gas valve doesn't get a good reading from it, the gas valve won't allow ant flow. They are easy to replace, a thermocouple has a copper tube that inserts into the body of the gas valve, a pilot generator has two wire leads. The gas MUST be turned off while you change it out. If it's a tube type (thermocouple), be careful not to kink the copper tube during installation.

Posted on Aug 26, 2008

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The pilot assembly should look similar to the pic above. Depending on where you live, you may be required to hire a certified plumber to replace the parts. If not you can do it your self. Keep in mind if it's not staying lit you also need to check the thermostat and the thermocoupler before replacing the pilot assembly. There is a good chance it is just the thermocoupler going out. It is one of the first things to check when troubleshooting a pilot light problem with a gas water heater. A thermocouple determines if the pilot light is lit. If it's not lit, the gas valve fails. If that's the problem, replace the thermocouple.


  1. Shut off the gas valve on the water heater and the gas valve on the line near the heater. Remove outer and inner doors, and loosen the pilot and supply tubes and the thermocouple connections to remove the burner assembly.
  2. Step 2 Loosen the screw holding the thermocouple to the bracket. Remove old thermocouple. Bring it with you to the store to ensure you are buying the proper replacement.
  3. Step 3 Install the new thermocouple. Position the thermocouple so that the pilot flame heats 1/2 inch of the tip.
  4. Step 4 Reinstall burner assembly in the water heater. Tighten burner supply tube, pilot tube and thermocouple connections. Tighten thermocouple no more than a quarter turn more than hand-tight.
  5. Step 5 Turn on both gas valves. Check supply tube and pilot tube for leaks with soapy water. If soap bubbles, tighten connections to fix leak. Ignite the pilot light, and make sure the thermocouple tip is heating up. Replace inner and outer doors.

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