State Select Water Heater Pilot Light Issues [Solved]

The most common reason behind a State Select water heater pilot light won’t stay lit is a damaged pilot assembly. A lot can go wrong with it. In the worst-case scenario, you’d have to replace it to solve the issue.

However, there are many other potential reasons that can cause this problem. They are:

  • Gas Supply Issues
  • Thermocouple Problems
  • Lack Of Combustible Air
  • Defective Gas Control Thermostat
  • Tripped Thermal Switch
  • Flammable Vapor Sensor Lockout

Keep on reading this State Select water heater pilot light issues troubleshooting guide to find out all about these common issues and learn how you can fix them. Let’s dive in!

How To Light The State Select Pilot Light Correctly

Before I get into the issues that keep your pilot light from lighting, you should make sure that you’re not making any mistakes in lighting the pilot. The process of lighting the heater will slightly vary depending on the type of gas valve you have in your heater.

If you have purchased your heater fairly recently, you should have a gas valve that looks like this:

state select water heater gas valve

Here’s how you can light the pilot on such models:

  • Turn on the manual gas valve to ensure that the heater has a gas supply.
  • Move the gas control knob to the pilot position.
  • Press the gas control knob inwards and hold it in.
  • With the knob pressed down, keep clicking the igniter.
  • You should click the igniter once every second and do it for at least 90 seconds.

The status light will begin to flash if the pilot light turns on. If that happens, move the knob to your desired heat settings and you’re good to go. If you notice your State Select water heater status light doesn’t come on, you can try doing it after at least 10 minutes.

state select water heater pilot light

If it doesn’t come on even after 2-3 attempts, then you need to follow our guide to solve the issue behind it. If you see a solid status light, it indicates that the pilot was lit but has turned off. Stick around to learn how to solve that as well.

But if you purchased your State Select water heater many years ago, your gas control thermostat should look something like this:

state select water heater gas control thermostat

Here’s how you can go about lighting the pilot in these models:

Step 01: Turn On The Gas Supply & Remove The Front Cover

Make sure that the gas valve is parallel to the gas lines. It means that it’s on position. If it is perpendicular to the lines, you need to turn the valve. Set the thermostat knob to the “Pilot Lighting” position.

Locate the gas control knob at the top, press it down slightly, and turn it to the “Off position”. Remove the front cover at the bottom of the heater so that you can look at the pilot light from the viewport. You need to look at the left side of the viewport to check when the pilot is being lit.

Step 02: Find The Pilot Location

Wait for ten minutes and ensure that you don’t smell any gas. If you do smell gas, don’t continue lighting the heater, and move to our section on the gas supply issues.

Move the gas control knob to the “Pilot” position. Press the piezo igniter button several times. It’s located on the right side of the gas control thermostat.  You should see sparks on the pilot location when you press the button.

Step 03: Light The Pilot

Push the gas knob all the way down once you find the pilot light location. Press the igniter 4-5 times quickly to light the pilot while holding the knob down.

If the pilot lights up, you need to keep holding the gas knob for at least one minute. The pilot should remain lit at this stage.

Move the knob to the “On” position if the pilot stays lit and change the dial of the thermostat to your desired settings.

That’s how you light the pilot correctly on your State Select water heater. As there’s no status light on the gas control valve in these types of heaters, you need to look through the viewport to know if the pilot has lit up. You’ll see a small blue flame if the pilot light is on.

If the pilot light is not on, it’ll be dark. Remember that you need to look to the left side of the viewport to see the pilot light. If you look straight through the viewport, you may not be able to see the pilot flame. If you don’t see a spark or the pilot doesn’t light up, or doesn’t stay lit, keep on reading.

State Select Water Heater Pilot Light Issues Troubleshooting [7 Easy Fixes]

I’ll explore the main reasons behind your State Heater pilot light not getting or staying lit in this section.

1. Damaged Pilot Assembly

In the newer models I discussed, the pilot assembly contains many important parts. The parts include:

  • Igniter
  • Flame Sensor.
  • Pilot Light.

Issues with any of them can lead to the pilot not lighting up or not staying lit. Start by inspecting the igniter first. Dim the lights in your room that has the heater and look through the viewport if sparks are being produced when you press the igniter.

state select water heater pilot assembly

If you see sparks, that means your igniter is fine. However, not seeing any sparks means that your igniter has gone bad.

The next possible culprit is the pilot light itself. If the pilot tube is clogged, the gas required to light the pilot won’t be able to go through it. Therefore, your pilot won’t light up.

Finally, the last thing you should check is the flame sensor or the thermopile. If it has gone bad, it won’t be able to sense the pilot light. If your pilot light keeps going out, a faulty flame sensor could very well be the main reason behind it.


The solution will be easy if you have found the main culprit that’s causing the issue. If it’s the igniter, you can just replace it. The igniter wire being loose can also lead to no sparks.

So, make sure that the wire is not loose and connected tightly to the socket. If the igniter is at fault here, you’ll have to replace it. Check out our igniter replacement guide to learn how you can do it in detail.

If you have a clogged pilot tube, cleaning it with a thin wire and removing the debris from it will do the trick. Once it’s clean enough that gas can flow through it, the pilot light should come on if there are no other issues. If there are holes in the pilot tube, it needs to be replaced.

You’d also have to replace the thermopile if it has gone bad. Check out our guide on State Select water heater thermocouple replacement to know how you can inspect and replace it.

Now, you know how to inspect each of the elements in the pilot assembly and take corrective actions. However, you may not always be able to tell which component has gone bad.

Multiple components can also be damaged at the same time. In such cases, you’d have to replace the entire pilot assembly instead of just replacing the thermopile.

2. Gas Supply Issues

Another common issue that keeps the pilot light from lighting up or staying lit is problems with the gas supply. When gas doesn’t get supplied to the heater properly, the pilot won’t have enough fuel to light up.

state select water heater gas supply issues

Gas supply issues can come in many forms. Here are the most frequent ones:

  • No Gas
  • Air In Gas Lines
  • Obstruction In Gas Lines
  • Low Gas Pressure
  • Kinked Flex Tube
  • Gas Leaks


Let’s look at how to solve each of the problems stated above one by one. First things first, make sure that the main gas supply line is turned on. If it’s off, no gas would get into the combustion chamber and you won’t have a light. You’re lucky if it was turned off as that’s the easiest fix.

Next, check if there is a proper gas supply in your house. If you’re using natural gas, turn a stove or any other equipment that requires gas. If gas flows through it, that means there’s no gas supply issue in your house.

If you’re using LP, check that your tank is not empty. Refill the tank or replace it and relight the pilot to get your heater to work again.

The air inside the gas lines can also keep the pilot from lighting up. That’s why it’s important to wait for ten minutes for the air to clear up when you turn the knob to the “pilot” position. If you do that, the air should automatically bleed from the gas lines.

Obstruction in the gas lines can also lead to no pilot light. If you suspect that’s the case, then inspect the gas lines. It’s a good idea to replace the gas lines altogether if there’s dirt inside them.

Check the gas pressure with a manometer if you have it. If you don’t have access to the tool, call your local gas company and have someone come to your home to make sure that the gas pressure is okay.

If the flex tube is kinked, it’ll also interrupt the smooth flow of gas. You can try straightening it out at first and see if that solves the issue. If that doesn’t work, replace the flex tube.

The worst-case scenario is gas leaks. If you smell any gas, then, forget about lighting the heater and vacate your house immediately. Call your gas supply company and tell about them the issue. This is no joke and can lead to accidents if you don’t take immediate action.

Unfortunately, gas leaks can’t always be detected by smell. LP gas is also 50% heavier than air and can settle at the bottom. Be aware of these things and try to be as safe as you can the next time you try to light your heater.

3. Thermocouple Problems

We’re going back to the traditional gas control valves here. If you have that, there are a lot of potential issues with the thermocouple that can lead to the pilot light not being lit. Consequently, you don’t get any hot water from your state select water heater. Well, the main ones are:

  • Dirty Thermocouple.
  • Bent Thermocouple.
  • Faulty Thermocouple.
state select water heater thermocouple

If the thermocouple is dirty or bent, it won’t be able to detect the heat from the pilot light. So, the pilot light won’t stay on for long. The same goes for when you have a faulty thermocouple.


By now, you already know if your thermocouple is bad and what are the common issues with it. So, let’s learn how to fix them one by one. No matter what the problem is, you’d have to access the thermocouple by taking out the burner assembly. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Turn off the main gas supply to the heater and give it some time to cool down before you start working on it.
  • Disconnect the pilot tube, thermocouple, and the main gas supply line from the gas control valve.
  • Remove the burner door by undoing the screws holding it in place and pulling out the burner assembly.
  • Inspect the thermocouple at this stage.
  • Pull it out by putting it through the gap at the bottom cover if you need to clean or replace it.

Now, the appropriate fix will depend on the condition of the thermocouple. If it’s bent, you need to realign it. If it’s dirty, you need to clean it. If it’s damaged, you need to pull it out and replace it.

Fix 01: Fixing A Bent Thermocouple

Even if the thermocouple bends by a quarter of an inch away from the pilot light, it won’t be able to sense the flame properly. So, inspect the distance between the thermocouple and the pilot.

If it’s too far, just bend it back to the usual distance. It’ll be easier for you if you grab your owner’s manual as you’d most likely find a picture of the pilot assembly there. Using that as a frame of reference, you can put the thermocouple in its original position.

Fix 02: Cleaning A Dirty Thermocouple

It’s normal for carbon deposits to build up on the thermocouple. But when it gets too much, it can’t detect the flame. The solution is simple – rub it with fine-grit sandpaper until you get all the dirt out. Reinsert the thermocouple when you’re done, put your heater back together, and see if that works.

Fix 03: Replacing A Damaged Thermocouple

When you inspect the thermocouple and they’re not bent out of shape or dirty, that means it’s damaged. In that case, you have to replace it. You already know how to pull out the old thermocouple. Now, all you need to do is get a new one with the right number and install it in place of the old one.

Hopefully, you’ll no longer face any issues with the pilot light in your State Select water heater after fixing these thermocouple problems.

4. Lack Of Combustible Air

There needs to be proper airflow to your heater to light the pilot and the main burner. Without it, your pilot isn’t likely to light up. Even if it somehow lights up, it won’t stay lit as the main burner won’t come on.

There are many potential issues behind not having enough air to light the pilot. The main ones are:

i. Installing The Heater In A Confined Space

There needs to be sufficient clearance between the heater and other objects in the house. If there are too many things surrounding the heater, the required amount of air won’t be able to pass to the combustion chamber with ease. Only a little air will go into the combustion chamber and that won’t be enough.

ii. Dirty Water Heater

If the heater itself is dirty and clogged with dust bunnies and other dirt, that will also interrupt the free flow of air. So, the outer portion of the heater being dirty and filled with dust can also cause a lack of air and lead to this issue.

iii. Dirty Combustion Chamber

As you keep using your heater, carbon deposits form on the main burner. They can get to the combustion chamber in no time. When too much dirt falls inside the combustion chamber, it would get clogged and air won’t get into it.

state select water heater dirty combustion chamber


Depending on the problem that’s causing the issue, you need to take the appropriate action. The key thing is to inspect the heater thoroughly and see what’s causing the issue. Based on the order in which I’ve presented the problems, here’s how you can go about solving them:

  • Move the heater to a space that is free of any surroundings and make sure it’s installed properly or remove the objects around it to someplace else.
  • Clean the external part of the water heater and clear any dirt in it.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to get rid of the dust inside the combustion chamber. You’d have to remove the main burner to get access to it.
  • You can also insert a soft brush underneath the heater and clean the base ring filter of the heater. Another option is to use compressed air to remove the debris from the flame arrestors.

5. Defective Gas Control Thermostat

It’s possible that the internal mechanism of your pilot light and the main burner is fine but the issue lies with your gas control thermostat. If the pilot button or the gas control knob on the thermostat doesn’t work properly, the pilot won’t light up.

state select gas water heater gas control thermostat


Unfortunately, you can’t just buy a pilot button if it gets broken. You’d have to replace the entire gas control valve to solve the issue. Thankfully, it’s an easy job. The process will be a little different for the gas valves with status lights and the older ones without them.

You’ll need an adjustable wrench to remove both types of gas control thermostats. Here’s how you can do it for the gas control valves that have a status light:

Step 01: Drain The Heater

Shut off the gas supply to the water heater by closing the main gas valve and moving the thermostat to the “Off” position. Unplug the heater if it’s connected to a power outlet and wait for it to cool down.

Drain the water heater and make sure that it’s completely free of water before you attempt to take off the thermostat.

Step 02: Remove The Thermostat Connections

Detach the wiring harness, igniter wire, and flammable vapor sensor wires from the thermostat. Disconnect the pilot tube and manifold tube connection to the thermostat.

Disengage the ground joint union in the gas piping and remove the remaining pipe from the thermostat.

Step 03: Replace The Gas Control Thermostat

Thread a 4” section of pipe into the inlet of the gas control thermostat and turn it counterclockwise. The gas control valve will eventually come loose. When it happens, take it out. Put the new gas control thermostat in place of the old one and reverse engineer the above steps to complete the installation.

The process of replacing the second type of gas control valve is also similar. You’d drain the water heater first, remove all the connections to the thermostat, take out the thermostat from the heater, and replace the state-select water heater thermostat.

The only difference in these types of valves is that the pilot light, main gas supply, igniter, and thermocouple are all connected to these types of gas control valves. So, take your time removing these connections. When you do that, you can easily complete the replacement.

6. Tripped Thermal Switch

Whenever there’s too little air inside the combustion chamber, the flame becomes lazy. It increases the heat inside the combustion chamber. When the heat exceeds a certain level, the thermal switch in the heater gets tripped.

state select water heater thermal switch

When this thermal switch gets tripped, your gas control thermostat will no longer be operational. Hence, your pilot light won’t work.


Luckily, the thermal switch on State Select water heaters is resettable. Just locate the switch at the bottom of your unit and press the small button located right in the middle.

state select water heater resettable thermal switch

The above picture shows exactly where it is. That’ll do the trick. The switch won’t be tripped again if it occurs due to a temporary issue. So, your problem is solved for good.

But if the switch gets tripped again, you’ll have to inspect the underlying reason behind it and take corrective actions. Make sure that the combustion chamber is clean and that it is getting sufficient air. If you find any obstruction in the vents that makes them blocked, remove them.

7. Flammable Vapor Sensor Lockout

There’s a safety device called an FV sensor in your State Select water heater to minimize the risk of a fire due to flammable vapors. Liquids like propane and gasoline emit flammable vapors that can easily get sparked by the igniter or the main burner of the heater. It can lead to serious accidents and even death.

The FV sensor generally detects the presence of these vapors and shuts down the unit. So, you won’t get a pilot light from your heater in such instances.


If you have an FV sensor that was tripped, your only option is to replace it to get your heater to work again. There’s no getting around it. Even though FVIR heaters are pretty safe, take your safety into your own hands. Make sure you keep the surrounding area of your heater free from these harmful gases.

Keep in mind that the sensor only minimizes the risk and doesn’t necessarily end it. There’s still the chance of explosion if they have accumulated in the combustion chamber. Never try to light your water heater if you suspect that a flame vapor incident has taken place.

If there has been a severe flame vapor incident in your house, the flame arrestors will normally be discolored. In rare cases, you may need to replace the water heater altogether if the contamination of these vapors is too high.


How do you know when your State Select water heater pilot light is lit?

The status light in your State Select water heater will flash once every three seconds when the pilot light is lit. If your model doesn’t have a status light, you can look at the viewport to check if the pilot light is lit.

Can rainy or snowy weather keep the pilot from staying lit?

It can happen but it’s not that common. As the demand increases and more work is required from your heater to generate the same level of output during cold weather, the pilot light can go out.

Can a clogged or dirty main burner cause no pilot light?

No, the burner lighting up is the next step after the pilot light is turned on. If you have a clogged main burner, it can prevent the main burner from coming on and can even result in a yellowish flame.

Should you try to light the pilot by hand?

No, it’s not safe to light the pilot by hand or with a match stick. It can cause damage to you as well as the heater. Only try to light the pilot following the instructions in your owner’s manual.

What to do if your gas State Select heater’s energy cut-off switch gets tripped?

The ECO or high limit temperature switch gets tripped when the temperature of the water goes beyond  189°F. You have no option but to replace the entire gas control thermostat when it happens.


Hopefully, you know everything you need to know regarding the pilot light after completing this State Select water heater pilot light issues troubleshooting guide. I’ve discussed the issues in the order of how likely they are to occur based on my experience.

Make sure your tank is filled with water before you turn it on. Follow the diagnosis procedure to identify the issues mentioned in this guide. When you find the culprit, take corrective actions to fix it.

Also, you can check out our comprehensive guide on State Select gas water heater troubleshooting to deal with other issues that you may face with your water heater.

Good Luck!

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