Water Heater Problem

Old 04-08-03, 11:04 AM
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water heater will not stay on

I have an older water heater and it has been working fine up until a few days ago. I re-lit the pilot light and it came on just fine, the next day i had to re-light it again, now it will not stay lit. When I turn it to "ON" the burner lights up for a few seconds and then kicks out and the pilot light goes out.

I have been told it might be the control valve/thermostat or the Thermo Couple, how do I know which one and how do I replace them???
Old 04-08-03, 08:10 PM
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Hello AngelbearAntq. Welcome to my Gas Appliances forum and our Do-It-Yourself Web Site.

First thing to check is the pliot flame. It must be all blue. If not, it is dusty and needs to be cleaned out.

If the flame is all blue, replacing the thermocouple is the next step. Doing so is most likely going to correct 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.

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 sell replacement thermocouples.

Read some of the existing questions pertaining to water heaters within this forum. Doing so will provide you with additional helpful information, etc.
Old 04-09-03, 09:25 AM
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Thank you very much for the information. Now hopefuly I can fix it without too many problems.
Old 04-10-03, 08:48 AM
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Well that seems to have fixed the problem. thanks so much for all of you help.

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