I have a Rheem heater (Model# PROG50-38N RH60). The pilot has gone out. This tutorial suggests I must turn the knob to pilot to start the process of relighting the heater. When I try to turn my knob to pilot, I am unable to do so. Is there any trick to getting the knob into pilot mode? I don't want to break the heater by forcing things.

Here is the knob on my heater enter image description here

  • 1
    What's the model number of your unit? Maybe you have to press and turn like a child safety cap for medicine.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Apr 12, 2021 at 17:33
  • @monkeyzeus that should be an answer I think just about all gas valves have to be depressed to or the button depressed to go into “pilot” where gas is flowing without the thermocouple/ flame eye being made.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 12, 2021 at 17:45
  • @EdBeal Thanks, I see that OP updated their post with a model number . I added an answer accordingly.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Apr 12, 2021 at 17:56

1 Answer 1


Below is a picture of the lighting instructions for your water heater taken from Rheem's website. Make sure to follow the lighting instructions carefully and do not skip any steps. This same instruction set should be available as a sticker on your unit.

It looks like you do in fact have to depress the knob in order to turn it so avoid using force.

If you are unsuccessful with the instructions then it is a good idea to call a professional.

Page 17: https://cdn.globalimageserver.com/FetchDocument.aspx?ID=1109693C-C799-48A7-9045-F812119FBDF8

enter image description here

  • My water heater is a different brand, but it works exactly the same - you must press the "pilot" button in order to be able to turn it further. I believe that the design is to get you to stop at the "pilot" setting to get the pilot lit before advancing the knob to "on". This way there's only a small bit of gas coming out of the pilot burner instead of the full burner pouring gas into the combustion chamber as you approach with a lit match. Helps keep the house from going boom.
    – FreeMan
    Apr 13, 2021 at 13:05
  • @FreeMan If you are actually able to reach your pilot light with a lit match on a modern water heater then I am pretty sure you have voided the warrant and absolved the manufacturer from the consequences of your actions.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Apr 14, 2021 at 16:24
  • I installed my water heater 10-15 years ago and just had to relight the pilot last week. I used to do it with long "camp fire" matches, but since we've used them all up, I did it with a long "fire starter" lighter. Our heater doesn't have any sort of piezo-electric sparker to light it with. I guess that means that 10-15 years old isn't "modern". :(
    – FreeMan
    Apr 14, 2021 at 16:31
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    @FreeMan If it ain't broke don't replace it! I wish I could light mine (2019 Rheem) with a long lighter. Previous one was a 2008 and it too used piezo-electric.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Apr 14, 2021 at 16:37

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