A hot water heater that doesn’t heat water or doesn’t do its job properly is no hot water heater at all – it’s a useless item hanging around your house! But before you scream and shout and decide that you need to replace the whole darn thing you could check to see if you can just get yourself a new thermocouple.
What on earth is a thermocouple?
A thermocouple is a small little sensor that resides within your hot water heater system – a basic piece of machinery. It’s a little metal doohickie (for want of a better word) that is comprised of two different wires, each a different sort of metal. Where the two wires meet each other is where the temperature of the water in the hot water system is measured – the change in temperature changes the voltage, and so it can help to measure the temperature.
The pilot light on my hot water system has gone out
If the pilot light keeps going out is often due to a worn-out thermocouple. These are easily replaced yourself, and cost practically peanuts to replace. To remove the thermocouple from your hot water system, remove the burner itself, along with the thermocouple reserve. You’ll need to turn off any gas valves connected to the water heater first. Undo the nuts that hold the whole thing into place within the chamber and slide it out. Once you’ve done this, you can remove the thermocouple from the burner.
After this you can take the thermocouple (or whole thing) along to the hardware store to go and pick up a new one. It’s best to take it along so you can be sure that you get the same one as this is very important!
Once you’ve replaced the thermocouple and reattached the burner unit, light the pilot and check that it all works again. Ensure that there’s no gas leaks by soaping up the gas joints – if there is any gas being leaked then you’ll see it from bubbles escaping in the soap.
What if that didn’t work?
If you haven’t managed to save your hot water heater, then there is no reason not to give the experts a call to see what’s really up. A plumber is a great person to call when you’re having troubles with your hot water system. They can assess what is going wrong with your hot water system and determine whether it’s a quick fix or something a little more involved.
For the most part, a plumber or plumbers should be able to fix whatever is going wrong with your hot water system during the initial call out – it’s only if there is a major fix or replacement that needs doing will it take any longer.
However, it’s always worth a shot to do a little home repair job yourself to see if it fixes it. For just an hour or so out of your time and around $10, replacing your thermocouple with a new one certainly isn’t a huge or expensive job. Plus, one of the best things about home DIY jobs is that it makes you feel like you’ve done something really cool – something that you never expected you’d be able to do by yourself!
Replacing a hot water system is an expensive task – one that is hopefully avoided for as long as possible. Try out replacing the thermocouple in your hot water system before heading off and Googling “hot water system prices”. You might be surprised at what you are able to do all from spending just a few dollars – it is definitely worth a shot considering the alternative!