Home-How » Water Heater Igniter Won’t Spark (Common Causes & Solutions)

Water Heater Igniter Won’t Spark (Common Causes & Solutions)

If your water heater doesn’t work and you noticed that the water heater igniter won’t spark, you may be wondering how to fix the issue. Don’t worry, we’ve got you! 

I know how awful it is to not have hot water for days, so I figured I would write about everything you need to know about solving the problem with your water heater igniter not sparking. 

Let’s learn more about how a water heater works, what is the igniter’s part in the mechanism, and how to resolve the issue at hand. 

Water Heater Igniter Won’t Spark

How Does a Gas-Powered Water Heater Work?

A gas-powered water heater works by heating up cold water in a tank by burning fuel, usually propane. It is made out of several components that are crucial for this mechanism.

A water heater has a tank in which the water is stored, and it is usually made of steel and insulated so it can maintain the high temperatures of the water. 

Another important part of a water heater is a burner whose purpose is to burn gas in order to create heat. It is usually located at the bottom of the water tank. An igniter is a component that ignites the gas burner.

A heat exchanger is part of a water heater that transfers the heat from the burner to the tank. 

A thermostat is a component that is designed to keep the water at a desired temperature. It sends signals to a control valve that regulates the flow of gas to the burner based on those signals. 

Finally, a water heater has pipes that transfer the cold and hot water in and out of the tank.

If any of these main parts malfunction your water heater may not be able to work properly and heat the water. 

What Is a Water Heater Igniter & What Is Its Purpose
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What Is a Water Heater Igniter & What Is Its Purpose?

An igniter is one of the crucial components of a water heater. It is a device that heats up when you turn the water heater on. As it heats up, the igniter creates a spark which, in turn, ignites the fuel in the combustion chamber. 

This allows a water heater to produce hot water, so if the igniter is not sparking, your water heater won’t work properly. In order to fix the water heater, you will need to diagnose the exact problem. 

How To Check If a Water Heater Igniter Sparks?

First, make sure that the problem you are experiencing is an igniter that won’t spark. This will only take a few minutes but it can save you a ton of time if it turns out that the issue lies somewhere else in the water heater. 

In order to check this, press and hold the pilot switch on your water heater while simultaneously pressing the spark igniter button. This should spark the igniter and you will be able to see it through a small window at the bottom of the heater. 

Most new water heaters use piezo igniter. In this case, you will just click on the igniter button and you should be able to see a flame. 

If nothing appears, then you indeed have a problem with an igniter that won’t spark. 

Common Causes & Solutions

There are several possible reasons for your water heater igniter not sparking. Let’s look into them and see what you can do to fix the issue. 

1. Loose Wires

Sometimes what seems like a big problem requires a simple and quick solution. In this case, it may be a problem with loose wires or bad connections between them. 

Check if all the wires related to the igniter are properly placed and connected. You can pull them apart and reconnect them before trying to spark the igniter again. 

2. Insufficient Voltage

If your water heater igniter won’t spark, it can be because it is not getting enough voltage. You can measure this using a multimeter. 

The voltage that your water heater should receive is printed on the heater itself or you can find it in the manufacturer’s instructions. 

If you ensure that your water heater igniter won’t spark because it doesn’t get enough voltage, you will need to call an electrician to fix the problem. It’s not safe to deal with the electricity yourself, so don’t experiment if you don’t have any experience with this issue. 

3. Bad Spark Plug or Piezo Igniter

A spark plug is a small device that is responsible for creating a spark that ignites the fuel. If the spark plug is worn out, damaged, or defective, it won’t be able to spark the gas and, therefore, your water heater won’t work properly. 

In case your water heater operates with the help of a piezo igniter, the same can be true. Your piezo igniter may be damaged, which would prevent your water heater from operating. 

If your spark plug or a piezo igniter is faulty, you will need to consider a replacement. Since fixing gas-powered devices without any previous knowledge or experience can be dangerous, please contact an electrician or a plumber to replace the broken parts. 

4. Defective Thermocouple

A thermocouple is a small device located near the pilot light whose purpose is to keep the gas valve open. 

If the thermocouple is damaged, dirty, or defective, it won’t be able to generate the electrical current to keep the gas valve open and therefore it will not allow the gas to reach the pilot light. This can be a reason for the igniter not sparking. 

If a thermocouple is broken, you will need to contact a professional to fix it. 

Dirty Water Heater Pilot Light
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5. Dirty Water Heater Pilot Light

A pilot light in a water heater is designed to ignite the main burners. It sends heat to the thermocouple, and if the thermocouple doesn’t get a sufficient amount of heat, it will close the control valve and stop the gas supply. This can cause an igniter to not spark. 

If a pilot light is dirty, clogged, or has carbon deposits on it, it won’t work properly. You will need to locate and clean it thoroughly in order to solve this problem. 


Your water heater cannot operate properly if an igniter doesn’t spark. This can lead to days without hot water, which is a highly inconvenient situation. 

Some of the reasons for this problem are loose wires, insufficient voltage, a bad spark plug or a piezo igniter, a defective thermocouple, or dirty pilot light. 

Whatever the reason for this issue may be, you should contact a professional to fix it for you as it can be very dangerous dealing with electricity and gas without any experience.

Most of these problems are minor and will not require replacing the whole water heater, so you can expect the problem to be solved in as little as a few hours. 

If you have any additional questions about this topic, please leave them down below, and we will be happy to answer them!

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