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Water Heater Igniter Won’t Spark? (With Solutions)

A water heater is an essential home appliance in a house or commercial building. If the water heater wants to heat the water using gas, it will have to spark to create a fire.

Sometimes you may find that the water heater igniter won’t spark. You may ask what the reason behind this issue is and how to solve it. Let us discuss the reasons behind this issue and analyze the possible solutions.

Why is my hot water heater not sparking?

Your hot water heater may not be sparking due to a defective igniter, electrode or thermocouple. It may also be caused due to a failing pressure switch. Another reason behind this issue can be that the pilot light is defective or not working properly. Any of these can be the reason behind the issue.

Hot water heater requires heat to warm water collected from the source. This water can be heated using gas or electricity. Among all the methods that are used, burning gas and using the heat from it is the most traditional method to heat water.

Most old houses and even new ones use this particular type of water heater to heat the water. But to heat the water, the gas has to be ignited and a fire needs to be in place. This is made by an ignitor.

But sometimes, you may find that your hot water heater is not sparking. There are many reasons behind this issue. Here are some common ones:

Defective lighter, electrode or thermocouple:

You may find that your hot water heater is simply not working due to a bad lighter, electrode or thermocouple. These are common reasons why a hot water heater is not working. 

If any one of these is not working correctly, it may cause your water heater not to spark.

Pressure switch malfunctioning:

A bad pressure switch is another primary reason behind a water heater from not sparking. A pressure switch helps to ensure that the sparking process is continued if the fire is not ignited. 

If the pressure switch is malfunctioning, that means the sparking process will not be happening properly.

Defective pilot light:

Pilot lights are the heart of a water heater from igniting. This helps to create a spark in a hot water heater and burn gas. But if the component is aged, it may get damaged or broken. Therefore, it will not spark any longer.

How do you test a water heater Ignitor?

You can test a water heater ignitor in many ways. The testing process varies based on the model of the water heater that you are using. But among all the methods that are available, the most common method to test a water heater ignitor is to check if the igniter is sparking or not

To test this, you will have to check in to the water heater manual that you are using. In the manual, you will have to know where the ignitor is. After finding the water heater ignitor, you will have to get close to the area where it is at. 

Get some help from another person and ask him to turn on the heater multiple times.

If you hear a sparking sound in that area, that means your ignitor is working properly. If not, you will have to test extensively based on the model of the water heater that you are using.

Why these water heater igniters won’t spark?

There are many water heaters available in the market. Different water heaters may not work due to various reasons. You may ask among all of them, what are the common reasons why these water heater igniters won’t spark. 

Let us discuss some common water heater types and the reason behind why won’t they spark:

Rheem water heater:

Rheem water heater igniter may not spark due to a faulty thermocouple or malfunction of the gas valve. A faulty thermocouple is a common issue in igniters which may prevent it from sparking. 

The malfunction of the gas valve is another reason why it may not spark.

RV water heater:

RV water heater igniter may not spark due to clogged electrodes, loose wire connection or defective circuit board. A clogged electrode is a common issue in this ignitor. Loose wire and faulty circuits are another two reasons as well.

Gas water heater:

The gas water heater igniter may not spark because of a faulty thermocouple. This ignitor mainly faces a faulty thermocouple which prevents sparking when required.

Richmond water heater:

Richmond water heater igniter may not spark due to a bad ignitor. A bad ignitor is a bad sign for any water heater. This is a common issue for this igniter.

Piezo water heater:

Piezo water heater igniter may not spark due to clogging in the ignition point. Carbon builds up in the ignition point, which prevents this igniter from sparking.

How to fix the igniter on a water heater?

There are multiple ways to fix the igniter on a water heater. Among all the available ways to fix an ignitor on a water heater, here are some simple methods that you can follow to fix yours:

Check the power connection:

A loose or inadequate power connection is a common reason for igniter issues on a water heater. Check the power source to which it is connected. If the connection is loose, secure the connection properly.

If the water heater is not receiving the necessary amount of power to operate, then consider changing the socket to a higher voltage one. You may also rewire the socket to increase the voltage.

Reconnect the sensor wires:

A loose or dirty sensor wire may also be the reason behind an ignitor issue. You may fix this by reseeding the sensor wires back again. This will remove the carbon buildup in the connection and help it work properly.

Loose sensor connections may also cause the ignitor from working. Check the connections properly before you use the water heater.

Check for loose connections:

Loose connections are another common and major issue for water heaters. A loose connection with the sensor layout or ignitor may cause it to work properly. Check for any loose connections by reseeding the back again properly.

Replace the ignitor kit:

If the ignitor of the water heater is still not working, consider that the ignitor kit is damaged. You will have to replace it with a new one. Please consult with a technician to get it replaced for you.

How to replace spark igniter water heater?

If the spark ignitor of a water heater is faulty or damaged, it needs to be replaced or changed. If you have the basic electrical knowledge, you can replace it by yourself following the simple steps provided by us:

Turn off the gas and electrical connection:

Remove all the connections to the water heater. This includes turning off the gas connection and the electrical connection.

Unplug all the sensor connections:

Remove all the sensors by unplugging all the sensor connections. After that, remove the ignitor cover from the bottom to get access to the ignitor shield.

Remove ignitor shield and gas connection:

Disconnect the gas connection from the gas valve section to the ignitor. After doing that, remove the screws of the ignitor shield and remove them from that place.

Replace the ignitor kit:

Replace the existing ignitor kit with a new one. The ignitor kit has to be compatible with the water heater that you are using.

Put everything back:

After replacing the kit, place everything back as it was and connect every sensor, wire and pipe. Check for leaks and perform an ignition test to check if the ignitor is working correctly or not.

How to light hot water heater without igniter? How do you bypass an igniter on a water heater?

If your ignitor is not working and you want to use the water heater without it, you can use it without it. This is called bypassing an ignitor on a water heater. Here are the simple steps that you may follow to do that:

Remove the ignitor shield:

Remove the ignitor plate which is the attached plate of the dial box. Remove all the plates until you see the actual pipes of the water heater.

Turn the switch accordingly:

Turn off the switch pilot and wait until the temperature is low. When it is low, change the switch back to pilot.

Manually use a lighter to start:

After doing the following, manually light using a lighter and hit the on/off button simultaneously until the gas is ignited. After the water heater is running, place back the plates as they were.

Final Thoughts

The water heater ignitor may not spark due to various defective components of the water heater itself. This may happen due to a lack of maintenance or aging. These issues can be resolved temporarily by performing bypass ignition and permanently fixed by changing the kit or defective components.