How to Replace the Thermocouple on Your Water Heater


How to Replace the Thermocouple on Your Water Heater

If the pilot light for your gas water heater will not remain lit, then the thermocouple is probably at fault. There is no fixing a broken thermocouple; it has to be replaced. Fortunately, the new part should only cost you five or ten bucks, and it only takes six simple steps to install it yourself if you know your way around the water heater.

What is the thermocouple exactly? This little thermoelectric device is there to turn off the gas when the pilot turns off. The thermocouple is a stub of tubing that goes from the pilot to the gas controller, and at the pilot end, both the pilot and thermocouple are attached to a bracket that fastens to the burner.

One quick note before you go out and buy a thermocouple: first, see if the tube that feeds gas to the pilot light is clogged up or not. If the tube has an obstruction, then you might be able to simply blow it out or to use some thin wire to get it out of the way.

Six Simple Steps to Remove and Install a Water Heater Thermocouple

Once you know that you need a new thermocouple, here is what to do:

  1. Turn off the gas. This means that the gas controller has to be in the off position.
  2. Disconnect the thermocouple and two gas tubes from the valve. The burner should come out easily enough as it is usually not attached tightly, or is under clips, inside of the burning chamber. In order to disconnect the thermocouple and gas tubes, you will have to remove the three nuts that attach them to the valve.
  3. Remove the thermocouple. At one end, the thermocouple will probably be held by clips that were snapped in. This will be at the end where the thermocouple links to the pilot gas supply tube. At the other end, you can probably just pull out the thermocouple from where it was slipped into the pilot assembly.
  4. Buy a new thermocouple. Once your old thermocouple is out, you can take it to a hardware store or home center to find the right replacement.
  5. Repeat steps 2-3 in reverse to install the new thermocouple. This means slipping the thermocouple back into the pilot assembly, reconnecting it to the pilot gas supply with the clips, and putting the burner back in place. You will also have to use an open-end or adjustable wrench in order to reattach the thermocouple lead and the gas tube to the burner and to reconnect the pilot gas tube with the valve.
  6. Turn the gas on and relight the pilot. You should follow the instructions labeled on your water heater for how to ignite the pilot light. Watch for any gas leaks: put soapy water onto the joints. If you see any bubbles when the main burner is on, then this could signal a serious problem.

When to Call in a Team of Plumbing Experts

If this replacement does not fix your water heater, then you may need a plumbing technician’s assistance to assess what is wrong with the heater and to provide the solution. You can find the quality service you need at A-1 Sewer & Septic Service, Inc. No problem is too small or too great for our experienced team to handle. Even if you need help with your plumbing after business hours or on the weekend, you will not be charged extra for any emergency services you require. Get your no-obligation quote from a skilled Kansas City plumber when you call our office today!

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