Propane Water Heater

Old 10-29-02, 01:20 PM
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Question Propane Water Heater

I have a Rheem gas water heater approx. 5 years old. Just recently, the flame started going out. I can light the pilot and it stays lit. However, when I turn on the gas, it will ignite and burn for about 10 seconds and then completely go out.

I live in a high wind area, so I thought the high wind cap had come off or something. I checked and it is still attached on the roof. Any ideas???
Old 10-29-02, 05:24 PM
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Hello tjohnson. Welcome to my Gas Appliances forum and our Do-It-Yourself Web Site.

Pilot outage can be caused by several possiblities. The most likely is a wornout thermocouple. Replacing the thermocouple should resolve the problem.

A thermocouple is the part the pilot flame touchs and keeps hot. The end containing the element bulb is inside the water heaters firebox. Be sure the control knob is turn off prior to removing the two covers to access the inside of the firebox.

Follow the very thin tube outwards until you locate where it is connected. It will be screwed into the bottom of the main control valve. This location is usually just to the left side of the larger diameter center aluminum burner gas tube.

On some water heaters the burner assembly must be completely removed from the inside of the burner compartment to remove the element end of the thermocouple from it's holding assembly.

The end of the thermocouple will be on the left side under the control and has a male threaded end. This end must be carefully unscrewed out of the control housing using a small open ended wrench.

A thermocouple is generic except for it's length. Thermocouples are made in different lengths. Measure the removed part or take the one you remove to any hardware store and replace it with an exact duplicate in length. The parts cost is very nominal.

New thermocouple packages will contain complete do-it-yourself installation instructions and pictures. The package also contains additional clips of various assortments.

Not all the parts contained in the package with the thermocouple will be needed. The packages contain an assortment of holding parts and clips that are generic and designed to fit a wide variety of water heaters applications.

Once you have installed the replacement thermocouple, turn the control to the 'PILOT' position. Relite the pilot in the normal manner. Replace the inner fireboxes metal cover.

Next rotate the control knob to the 'ON" position. The burner flames should lite up and resume heating the tanks water to the preset desired thermostats temperature.

If the burner doesn't light up immediately, the water in the tank may already be hot enough. To verify this, rotate the temperature knob to a higher setting to test it. The burner flames should now lite up and resume heating the tanks water.

If you had to remove the entire burner assembly, soap test the two tubing nut fittings to the right of the thermocouple fitting while the burner is ON.

If there are any leaks, tighten the hex head fittings carefully and as needed, to stop any visable leaks, as indicated by the soap bubbles. Applying a lite weight oil to the threads helps.

DO NOT use any pipe tape on any of the hex head nut fittings.

DO NOT use a wrench to start the male tubing nuts or the threaded end of the thermocouple.

HAND start the threads to avoid cross threading and damaging the threads. Once your sure the threads are correctly prestarted and tightened as much as possible using fingers only, use a wrench to further tighten the nut but do it carefully.

DO NOT overtighten the nuts. Just firmly secured.

The information above is offered to provide basic information and instructional procedures only.
Methods and procedures apply only to tank type water heaters.

Results and methods may vary. Always read your owners manual and closely follow the advice and procedures given in the manufacturers booklet, owners manual or on the labels attached to the tank and or parts packages. Always follow all safety warnings!

Read the manufacturers online web site for product information, problem possibilities, causes and solving methods, part locations, disassembly, reassembly methods, repair proceedures and instructions, pictorials and schematics, which may be available online.

An excellent source for orginal replacement parts is your local retail appliance parts store. Parts dealers are listed in the phone book under appliances. Local hardware stores also sell replacement thermocouples.

Regards & Good Luck.
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