“There are only a few things that can go wrong with a hot water tank,” says manager Jason Smejkal. “When I have a customer with no hot water, I sell them a new thermocouple and walk them through the steps to replace it.”
Villa Park Hardware believes that changing a thermocouple is a basic do it yourself project that homeowners should be able to do. The store has released a video that covers the steps and they also train customers on the project in the store.
In most hot water tanks, the first step is to turn off the main gas to the hot water tank and then remove the metal cover that protects the tubes coming out of the gas control. This is the square control that has the on and off knob to the gas. You will now disconnect the burner tube, pilot tube and the thermocouple from the gas control. Use a smooth adjustable wrench on these soft metal parts. In newer hot water tanks, you will also have an igniter connected to the body of the gas control. Most are held in place with a bracket that locks it in place. You just have to push it off with a slotted screwdriver against the side of the bracket.
After removing the tubes from the gas control, you will need to get to the burner. In older hot water tanks, you will have a metal plate that can be removed by hand to allow access to the burner and the bracket that holds the thermocouple. In newer hot water tanks, the plate going into the tank will be held in place with 2 or 4 screws. By removing these screws, you can pull off the plate which will be connected to the tubes going into the tank. This will also allow you to pull out the burner assembly.
Now that you have the burner out, you can clean off any debris and rust. To remove the thermocouple you need to see if it is held in place with a compression type fitting or a screw fitting. In most cases, you will be able to pull it out of the bracket without a tool if it is a compression fitting. To install the new thermocouple, you just push it into place, making sure it is extending far enough to make contact with the flame of the pilot. The thermocouple must be in the flame for the gas control to work.
You will then replace all the parts, being careful not to over tighten the nuts going into the gas control. The metal parts are soft. Turn on the main gas valve going to the tank, turn the control knob to pilot and press down the pilot button to light the pilot. If you have an older tank, you will have to use a long match or lighter. If you have a newer tank, you will have an igniter connected to the gas control. Once the pilot is lit, keep holding the button for 30 seconds to warm up the thermocouple. If the pilot stays lit, turn the dial to the on position. Once the burner is on, test your pilot tube and burner tube on the gas control with a soapy water solution to make sure they are not leaking.
These are the basic steps to replace a thermocouple on a hot water tank. You can visit the Villa Park Hardware at 46 S. Villa Ave.Villa Park, IL 60181 and see their video at http://www.youtube.com/