Guide to Replacing a Thermocouple on a Hot Water Heater
The thermocouple refers to a thermoelectric device that turns off the gas when the pilot light is off. In a nutshell, it’s a short piece of tubing that extends from the gas controller to the pilot. The pilot end of the thermocouple and the pilot are placed alongside each other in a bracket that’s attached to the burner. When you have a hot water heater with a pilot light that can’t seem to remain lit, it’s most likely due to a faulty thermocouple.
Replacing your thermocouple should be easy. Keep in mind that thinking and acting safely before anyone can start will make this process a lot easier. Make sure that there are no open flames from cigarettes or other sources in the area when working on a gas water heater, it might be a good idea to seek professional help. Always use a licensed gasfitter for this type of work. Plumbing specialists like Active Plumbing can provide quality and reliable service for all your maintenance and repair needs. Here are some of the most important things you need to remember when replacing your hot water heater’s thermocouple.
Types of Thermocouples
Standard – This type is also referred to as the universal water heater thermocouple. It is located at the bottom of the gas valve and a probe on the other end fits into a holding bracket close to the pilot light. It resembles a piece of copper wire. Nearly all older waters heaters and most of the newer models that feature a sealed burner compartment and a viewing window will have this type.
TCO – The thermal cut off style has a resettable thermal shut off switch built into the thermocouple. The TOC switch resembles a watch battery. This type of thermocouple can only be found on newer water heater models that have seal burner compartments.
TOC Non-Resettable – These thermocouples have a tiny TOC located inside the tube. They appear similar to the standard thermocouple, aside from the diameter which is larger midways of the tube. When these TOC’s switch off, they will not reset and should be replaced.
Installing the Thermocouple Replacement
As soon as you find the thermocouple, shut off the gas to the furnace. Then, take out the thermocouple from the control box and from where it is attached near the pilot light. Replacement thermocouples are easily available in most supply stores, and be available in Various standard lengths. Simply have to take the thermocouple which has been removed and re install the same model. If you are buying a thermocouple you might also want to have the model and serial number with you, to give to the sales assistant just in case. To install the new thermocouple, just a case of removal and replacement however on most occasions the burners will have to be removed and replaced also.
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