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4 Common Reasons & Solutions for a Water Heater Flashing Light

You notice your water heater has a flashing light on the control panel. What exactly does this mean? The reason behind the flashing light will vary depending on the model you have, but it’s a sign there’s something going on with your water heater. It could be just a small issue you can easily repair yourself or it can be a much bigger problem that warrants a call to a professional.

Four Common Reasons Why the Light Might Be Flashing on your Water Heater and Solutions

While each model and brand are different, typically you can tell which issue you’re experiencing by the light’s color and how often it’s flashing. However, the four common reasons are:

1. Pilot Light is Out

Older water heaters tend to have this issue. The pilot light flame goes out and the burner won’t ignite when this occurs. This leaves your water cold. There are several reasons why the pilot light might go out on your water heater, including: 

  • A malfunctioning thermocouple: The thermocouple senses when the pilot light is lit. It also senses when it goes out and then shuts off the flame’s gas supply to prevent safety problems with your water heater. 
  • A dirty or bent thermocouple: Along with the thermocouple becoming faulty, it could also wind up becoming bent away from the flame of the pilot light or have dirt build up on it. 
  • Flame blows out: If you don’t have a sealed combustion chamber on your water heater, the pilot light does have the potential of being blown out because of a strong draft close to the unit.
  • Insufficient combustible air: If the water heater is close in any location where it’s not getting enough combustible air, like a utility closet, the pilot light can go out. And, this situation can result in carbon monoxide building up, which can threaten your life. 

In some cases, there may be no light on at all and this usually indicates the pilot’s light is out. It’s easy and safe to restart the pilot light. You should find the instructions on how to do so on the control panel.

2. A Thermostat Issue

You’ll want to look at the upper thermostat and if it’s defective, replace it. If something tripped the high limit switch, you could reset the ECO button manually. Check the thermostat and replace it if it’s grounded. Calibrate the thermostat, if possible if it’s out of calibration. If you can’t, you’ll want to replace it.

3. Tank Won’t Fill Up or It’s Empty

You’ll want to check your water heater tank to see if there’s a leak if it’s not filling up all the way. If you can’t find any water leaking, try to hold the temperature-pressure release valve open. You might have a pressure lock. If so, allowing the pressure will enable the tank to fill up again.

4. Electrical Problems

If your water heater has an electrical issue, you’ll want to power it off before inspecting it. Electric water heaters are 240-volt, high-voltage appliances and they can be extremely dangerous to work on if the power is on. Prior to checking any of your water heater’s electrical parts, turn the power to the water heater’s circuit off. You do this by switching the proper breaker off that’s in your home’s breaker box. Use a non-contact voltage tester to test all water heater wires to confirm the power is off prior to touching any of the wires.

The absolute best thing you can do here to ensure your safety is to call a professional technician to come to handle any electrical issues with your water heater.

In many cases, if your water heater is flashing a light, it doesn’t indicate a sign of danger. It’s just basically informing you there’s something up with your water heater. These days, most water heater models will shut themselves off before a problem becomes unsafe. However, there is cause for concern if you see the flashing light and it accompanies a carbon monoxide detector going off, a gas smell around your heater or if your water has a metallic taste or is cloudy. You’ll want to call for emergency services if you notice any of these issues.

Don’t hesitate to contact us at Minnesota Heating & Air Conditioning if you’re noticing any water heater issues, including a flashing light.  Our customers are our top priority. We’re here to assist you with all your heating and cooling needs.