If your gas water heater isn’t working, chances are that it might be dirty. So, instead of incurring replacement expenses, you can clean it up at home!
If the heater has suddenly stopped working, you might need to look into its thermocouple. The thermocouple is a part of the gas water heater’s pilot tube and helps manage water temperature. If you’re wondering how to clean thermocouple on water heater, we’ve got your back.
If no proper maintenance takes place, the thermocouple can rust and wear out. But, this doesn’t mean you need to replace it right away. With the help of a few tools, you can simply clean up the device.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to clean the thermocouple on your water heater at home.
Tools and Materials
Before cleaning your thermocouple, make sure you have these materials and tools handy:
Emery clothsandpaper is the fabric version of a nail file. It’s coarse and has the same function as an abrasive nail file. You can use it to polish, smoothen and sand the ends of a rusted thermocouple and remove the rust.
You might have a few wrenches in your toolbox or a wrench kit at home. Each of them is for different kinds of nuts. However, an adjustable wrench can help solve the issue by being adaptable to different nut sizes.
If you have porcelain or glass dishware at home, you might be familiar withsteel wool. These are bundles of fine wire sponges used for cleaning dishware as they can scrape off dirt without scratching any surface.
Keep these steel wool bundles handy as they’re suitable for scrubbing off stubborn stains. If you don’t find any steel wool, a small brush can be a substitute for it.
For a perfect finishing touch, buy some lint-free cloth, such as a microfiber cloth. It can clean the thermocouple without leaving behind any fluff or lint.
Step-By-Step Guide to Clean Thermocouples
Step 1: Shut Off The Water Heater’s Gas Inlet Valve
First, shut off the water heater’s gas supply. This is especially important to maintain your safety. You can also use vice grip or pliers to shut off valves that have no knob or lever. If your water heater has two gas supply valves, turn both off before starting your work.
Step 2: Disassemble The Burner
For this step, use your wrench to unscrew your burner’s access cover. By doing so, you can unmount the burner assembly from its control center.
The entire assembly is connected to a total of 3 places. They are the main supply tube, the pilot supply tube, and the thermocouple. Loosen up the screws over the burner plate and the supply line to the control unit.
Disconnect the thermocouple and the pilot lightsupply tube. If there’s a vapor sensor on your tank base, detach it immediately. After disconnecting from all three units, slide out the assembly from its cover.
If this is your first time working with a water heater, make sure to take pictures after completing every step. By doing so, you can easily reassemble the burner assembly after you clean the thermocouple.
Step 3: Clean The Thermocouple
Many plumbers recommend detaching the thermocouple from its assembly to ensure proper cleaning. If you do so, take a picture for easy re-assembly.
You can now use the emery cloth sandpaper to scrub the thermocouple’s edges. Then, use your steel wool bundle to clean off the stains and remove any residual dirt on the device.
There shouldn’t be any remaining dirt on the thermocouple before reassembling it. Now, take your lint-free microfiber cloth and wipe off the device’s ends for the finishing touches.
Some hardware stores might try to sell you cleaning solutions for the thermocouple. They often have flammable chemicals that can be dangerous for your system. Instead, use these three tools to clean up the thermocouple.
Step 4: Clean Off The Gas Water Heater Burner
This is an optional step. There can often be some debris and dirt scrapes on the top of the burner. Now that you’ve detached it, you can clean it up as well.
For this, use your emery cloth or your steel wool to scrub off the stain build-ups from the top of the burner. By looking closely, you might find debris inside the burner holes and the ports. For these small spaces, use a small brush to reach the areas and clean them thoroughly.
While it’s an optional step, cleaning your burner can improve the life of your gas water heater.
Step 5: Reconnect and Reassemble The Burner
Now that you have pictures of all the last steps, it’s time to reassemble the heater. For the first step, reconnect the burner assembly to the heater tank. To do this, you need to reconnect the three lines to the gas water heater’s control center.
Put the tube on the bracket to balance it in a stable position. Then, tighten the burner plate by screwing in the nuts/screws to the mounting.
Make sure to follow proper instructions for this step.
Step 6: Turn On Your Gas Water Heater
After reassembling the gas water heater, you need to open the gas valve. Then, check the pilot light and light it. Adjust the dial to your desired temperature. Use a connected water supply to see if the temperature is to your liking.
Read More: How to Clean Hot Water Heater With Vinegar
Some gas water heaters may take a while to start and heat water at your desired temperature. If it’s working properly, you’ve now singlehandedly cleaned a dirty thermocouple and fixed your water heater without calling a plumber. However, if the problem seems a little out of hand, don’t hesitate to call in a professional.
We hope our guide for how to clean thermocouple on water heater has been helpful!