How To Clean A Thermocouple Water Heater

How To Clean A Thermocouple On A Gas Water Heater: Step By Step Guide

Gas water heaters, as well as the thermocouple that regulates the flow of gas through them, are essential components of your home’s heating system. In addition, they require periodic maintenance in the same way that all other appliances do. This ensures that the gas water heater is operating properly and that no potentially hazardous gases are seeping into your house. So, what is the best way to clean a thermocouple on a natural gas water heater? To clean our thermocouple, I use the following procedure: Cleaning a thermocouple requires the use of steel wool or 60-grit sandpaper as well as a clean cloth.

Every six months, I clean our thermocouple to keep it from being coated with soot and dirt.

Depending on how much soot your thermocouple has accumulated from the flame, it may begin to oxidize.

It is not a glamorous profession, but it is one that is very necessary.

It’s simple, and this step-by-step instruction will take you through the process step by step.

Please continue reading!

What Is A Thermocouple?

A thermocouple is a tiny device found towards the bottom of gas water heaters. It measures temperature. These devices regulate the amount of gas that should pass through them in order for them to function properly. It then makes use of this process to heat up enough hot water to meet the demands of your home. This little gadget provides an electric current to the pilot light, which allows it to remain illuminated. If you don’t clean and replace the thermocouple on a regular basis, corrosion can create a build-up of contaminants.

  • The most common cause of a malfunctioning water heater in the houses that I have evaluated is an improperly maintained thermocouple.
  • Typically, the thermocouple device does not function on its own.
  • When the appliance is in use, the standing pilot is a little flame that remains lit during the operation.
  • The thermocouple must be in good working order in order for the pilot to remain operational.
  • The sensor is located on the gas valve, and it provides a signal to the pilot to keep the pilot light on at all times.

The thermocouple is made up of two metals, which allows it to function as a probe that generates voltage when two wires are heated. The Seebeck Effect is a scientific phenomena that explains why this is happening.

Are Thermocouples Universal?

Although thermocouples are not universal in nature, some particular versions are compatible with the vast majority of gas water heaters on the market. It is possible to purchase so-called ‘universal thermocouples’ for a reasonable price online or at home supply stores, as well as most hardware and department stores. Consider the length and kind of one before acquiring one. Thermocouples may, in rare instances, fail to function properly in conjunction with other safety components. In these rare instances, a malfunctioning thermocouple might prevent the gas valve from functioning properly.

When these, too, fail, the situation becomes problematic.

7 Easy Steps In Cleaning Your Thermocouple

Listed below are some of the products you’ll need before starting the cleaning process:

  • A multiway wrench: This is the tool that will assist you in unscrewing all of the bolts and nuts throughout the entire system. A screwdriver: This is used to loosen any screws that have become too tight in the system. An emery cloth is a tool that looks similar to a nail file, except it has a cloth backing. This is used to sandpaper the surface of the thermocouple in order to remove any soot that has accumulated. It also eliminates any oxidation coatings that may have formed. After you have finished rubbing away all of the build-up with the emery cloth, you should use this lint-free fabric to finish the job. Because it avoids any possibility of residue lingering on the thermocouple after it has been cleaned, lint-free cloth is the ideal choice. A fine grit sandpaper or steel wool is recommended. In addition to steel wool, you can use a brush to clean the surface. This is the final piece of equipment that you will use to dust off any leftover particles from the thermocouple’s surface. You may also use it to clean the remainder of the water heater component
  • However, this is not recommended.

Step 2: Disconnect The Water Heater Gas Supply

As a result of the fact that certain gas water heaters have two supply injectors, it is better to switch them off simultaneously. When dealing with a gas-powered water heater, remember to always keep your safety in mind. In addition, keep any open flames or sparks to a minimum. If there is an excessive amount of gasoline in one region, this might result in an explosion.

Step 3: Disassemble The Water Burner

If your heater has an access lid, you must first remove the mounting screws from the heater. Then, loosening and removing the nuts that hold the burner plate in place is the next step. A few of turns of the screwdriver will be enough to release any threaded linkages that connect the component to other components. If there is anything else hooked into your control center, make sure to unhook them as well. By gently tugging on any protruding connections, you may accomplish this goal. If they don’t come apart easily, apply some pressure to their release levers while gently tugging at each wire at the same time until they finally break free from one another’s grasp.

This is necessary since else you will simply wind up causing damage to anything.

If this is the case, remove it.

Step 4: Sand The Thermocouple

Sand the thermocouple ends with an emery cloth to make them smooth. This can help you get rid of any persistent stains you may have on your clothes. This will aid in the preservation of a clean sensing region, which will be beneficial while heating water in the future.

Before beginning the cleaning procedure, inspect the terminal and power cable for corrosion and remove it with a clean cloth. Complete the process by wiping off all of the sanded surfaces with a clean microfiber towel to verify everything is in proper operating condition.

Step 5: Cleanse The Burner

It is also important to clean your burner if you want to save money on your energy costs. If you look within those ports or openings, you’ll be shocked at how much junk may gather. In order to remove any dust that may have settled in these crevices while the steel wool and emery cloth are doing their magic scouring, a tiny brush should be used to remove any dust that has settled in these crevices. Improved efficiency as well as general safety inspections will be made possible as a result of this.

Step 6: Reconstruct The Gas Water Heater

To guarantee safety, return the burner unit to its original place in the tank and check that it is firmly balanced on its bracket. Before going on to the next stage of attaching other components, make sure that all of the mounting screws or nuts are tight. Reattach any wire that was removed during the disassembly process, as well as any external components such as internal sensors that were previously removed.

Step 7: Turn On the Gas Water Heater

To keep your water heater functioning well and save money on gas, you should adjust the temperature setting to between 120°F and 140°F on a regular basis. Turn off the power or disconnect it if there is a cord before you begin working with the item to ensure that electricity does not flow through it while you are working with it. Then, reconnect the natural gas supply line before manually re-igniting the pilot light to ensure proper operation of the appliance. Make sure you don’t go above 160 degrees Fahrenheit since at these temperatures, corrosion may begin to form inside your apparatus.

Carbon monoxide poisoning and fires caused by spontaneous combustion are examples of such dangers.

How Do I Know If My Thermocouple Is Bad On My Water Heater?

Soot, dust, and debris may accumulate on the surface of a thermocouple over time. This build-up is the most common reason of the thermocouple not sensing heat and, as a result, not functioning properly. As a result, the sensor within the device is receiving incorrect values, which is undesirable. Finding out if the thermocouple in your gas water heater is faulty demands a keen eye and a lot of patience. You must keep an eye out for warning indications. It’s also necessary to clean, repair, or replace the thermocouple if you see any of the following signs:

Water Temperature Drops

If you find that the water temperature has dropped or that you are not receiving enough hot water, it is possible that the thermocouple has become clogged. The thermocouple may also be the source of the problem if you discover that there is no hot water at all in your home. When the thermocouple stops working, the pilot is turned off as well. Because of this, the burner does not light, and the water does not heat as a result. There is, however, a catch: This indication might be generated by another defect other than a faulty thermocouple.

  • Manually lighting the pilot is your first attempt
  • Follow along with the directions provided on the tank. If the pilot light comes on but the flame goes out as soon as you release the switch, it is a clear indicator that the thermocouple has failed
  • However, this is not always the case.

Irregular Thermocouple Volt Readings

30 to 40 millivolts is the optimal reading for a thermocouple that is in good working order.

And this is the reading that appears when the pilot is turned on. Even if you have a multimeter at your disposal, you will want assistance to conduct this test. Here’s how you can put it to the test:

  • To begin, remove the thermocouple from the gas valve by unscrewing it. Next, you’ll need to calibrate your multimeter so that it can read millivolts. The person assisting you should maintain the gas control knob pressed in to keep the pilot light on. You should maintain this position for around one minute to ensure that the probe is properly heated. Then, with one lead shaft attached to the thermocouple and the other end attached to the multimeter’s connection, you’re ready to go. If you receive a reading that is less than 25 millivolts, the thermocouple is defective
  • Otherwise, try another one.

The Thermocouple Is Loosely Attached

Occasionally, problems might emerge as a result of a thermocouple that is not securely connected. And it is for this reason that it must be the first item that you confirm. You must tighten a thermocouple using a wrench in order for it to be correctly set. Applying too much pressure will result in the nut being useless as a result of the excessive force used. Once you’ve tightened it down sufficiently, try igniting the pilot flame again, but keep an eye out for any smoke that may come out of the pilot.

When Should You Replace A Thermocouple?

When there is no hot water running and the readings on the multimeter are less than 25 millivolts, it is time to replace the thermocouple. You should also replace it if the accumulation of dirt on the thermocouple has become too large to be repaired and is interfering with its operation. The following indications should also indicate that your thermocouple is too damaged to be repaired and that you should get it repaired instead: When your gas water heater fails, it will have an impact on the entire home.

  • One of the most hazardous aspects of a defective thermocouple is that it may cause your thermostat to become too hot, which might result in a full-blown fire.
  • Flawed wiring is one aspect that contributes to this fire outbreak since it can result in electrical fires or even tiny, unintentional blazes as a result of static electricity build-up.
  • When it gets too late to correct the problem, the situation deteriorates, and energy spikes become more frequent as a result of decreased efficiency rates.
  • The last thing you want to deal with is a buildup of dangerous gases in your home or office.
  • In addition, these gases might be the source of an explosive fire.

Can You ReplaceA Thermocouple Yourself?

Yes, it is possible. However, in order to complete the task properly, you must possess some fundamental abilities. It will cost you roughly $20 and will take you approximately 45 minutes to complete the entire exercise. Overall, the following is a straightforward way to replacing a thermocouple on your own:

  • Gather all of the tools you’ll need: To do this task, you will need an adjustable wrench as well as a collection of different wrenches for different bolt sizes. It would be beneficial if you also had the replacement thermocouple that you were planning to replace
  • Disconnect all electrical and gas supplies: In order to ensure the safety of everyone, you must unplug any gas and electrical inlets. In addition, make certain that the water heater is disconnected and turned off. The following step is to remove any connections to the complete burner unit by unscrewing any bolts that may be present. Remove the thermocouple from the burner unit by disassembling it as follows: Following the removal of the burner, you will need to remove the thermocouple. Make certain that the new water heater is the same model as your existing gas water heater
  • Replace the thermocouple as follows: Reverse the procedures you did to deconstruct the system, then reconnect the complete system with the new thermocouple you installed.
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It is important to note that when replacing the thermocouples, you should also clean the complete system. Follow the procedures we described before to ensure that the work is completed thoroughly.

Can Water Damage A Thermocouple?

A thermocouple can be damaged by water. Despite this, the thermocouple will never come into touch with water or moisture since it is securely protected. If it comes into touch with water, the standing pilot will most likely not be operational. It is possible that it will illuminate for a few minutes before turning off. Some individuals believe that blow-drying the water heater to eliminate the moisture may be beneficial; alternatively, using a fan may be effective as well. There is a slight possibility that it will function once more.

It is possible, though, that you may need to replace the thermocouple. So, sure, water may interfere with the operation of the thermocouple by preventing the standing pilot from remaining lighted, hence preventing the thermocouple from heating.

Take Away

It is critical that your thermocouple is kept clean in order for it to function properly. Because your gas water heater represents a big financial investment, you want to make certain that it operates well and lasts as long as possible. The thermocouple should be cleaned out about once every six months or so to keep the machine in good working condition. It is possible to employ someone who understands what they are doing if you do not know how to do it yourself! Because of the greater demand levels associated with a dirty-running appliance, you will see an increase in your monthly electricity bill.

After everything is said and done, be sure that no new regulation regulating gas water heaters is in effect before dealing with anything that involves them, such as changing a thermocouple.

Before beginning any job, you should contact with a competent expert and verify that all necessary permits have been obtained.

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How To Clean the Thermocouple on a Water Heater

Chances are that your water heater is not functioning properly if the hot water temperature setting on yourwashing machine does not appear to be working, you have been washing your dishes with tepid water, or you have been taking the dreaded cold shower. If you have a gas water heater, a cloggedthermocouple might be the source of the problem.

What is a thermocouple and why does my water heater need one?

Gas water heaters that rely on a pilot light to ignite the burner will also be equipped with a thermocouple or thermopile to monitor the pilot’s performance (a thermopile is, essentially, multiple thermocouples connected in a series making the component more sensitive than a single thermocouple). Whenever the pilot light is extinguished, the thermocouple works as a safety measure, stopping the gas valve from opening and potentially flooding the area around the water heater with natural gas, as is the case when the pilot light is out.

It is as a result of this that the burner assembly does not generate a flame and that the water in the tank remains unheated.

Newer models of water heaters will feature a pilot setting on the gas valve, as well as a spark electrode to ignite the pilot when turned on. If you have an older model, the pilot setting will be available, but you will have to manually relight the pilot with a long match or lighter.

Accessing the thermocouple

It is common for the thermocouple to be positioned on the burner assembly, which is located at the bottom of the water heater tank. However, depending on the kind of your water heater, the procedures you must do to reach the thermocouple will differ. However, the following are some basic principles you may follow:

  • Check that the water heater’s power wire is disconnected and that the gas supply is turned off prior to starting
  • Remove the burner access cover and, if required, unthread any mounting screws that are in place. After that, remove the nuts or screws that are holding the burner plate in place. Remove the nut from the burner supply tube in order to disconnect it from the gas or control valve. Keep in mind that you may also need to remove a pilot supply tube from the system. Release the thermocouple if needed by your model by disconnecting any wires from the valve and unthreading the nut holding the thermocouple in place. The vapor sensor should be detachable from the tank base if applicable. You may now remove the burner component from the tank in order to have access to the thermocouple, if necessary.

Cleaning the thermocouple

Using Emery cloth sandpaper, gently wipe the end of the thermocouple to remove any dirt or buildup that may have formed. Additionally, you should clear up any corrosion that may have formed where the power line joins to the thermocouple terminal if it exists. Keep in mind that you may need to remove the thermocouple from the burner assembly in order to completely clean it. Remove any leftover debris from the component by wiping it down with a lint-free cloth. If necessary, attach the thermocouple to the burner assembly using a screwdriver.

  • Reinstall the burner assembly in the tank, ensuring sure that the burner tube is supported by the bracket if one is present. Thread and tighten the mounting nuts or screws to ensure that the burner plate is securely attached to the storage tank. If required, reattach the vaporsensor to the tank’s foundation. Reinsert the wires into the gas valve and, if necessary, tighten the thermocouple to the valve. The burner supply tube, as well as the pilot supply tube, should be reconnected to the valve if necessary. Make any necessary repairs to the burner access cover and tighten it down. Reconnect the gas supply and plug the water heater’s power cable back into the wall outlet. Test the water heater to see if it is heating the water as planned by relighting the pilot light.

Find the right water heater parts with Repair Clinic

It’s possible that the thermocouple is fully bad, or that the pilot itself is restricted, or that the igniter is faulty, or that the gas valve is malfunctioning, or that the pressure switch in the power vent blower housing is problematic if the water heater is still not heating the water. All of these components may be located on the Repair Clinic website by entering the model number of your gas water heater in the search box at the top of the webpage. After that, you may use the component category and part title filters to narrow down your search to the precise replacement part you’re searching for.

How to Clean Thermocouple on Water Heater? (Updated February 2022)

TanklessWaterHeaterExpress is sponsored entirely by its readers. Because I am an Amazon Associate, I receive money when people make eligible purchases. A thermocouple is a safety device that is connected to a gas furnace for further protection. It is used to determine whether or not the furnace’s pilot light is turned on and functioning properly. The furnace’s gas valve is directly connected to this device. When the pilot light goes out due to a loss of heat, this gadget detects it and automatically shuts off the fuel supply to the stove.

As a result, it is critical that the thermocouple continues to function properly and continuously.

Take a look at the following comprehensive article on how to clean the thermocouple on a water heater.

How to Check if You Have a Dirty Thermocouple?

A clogged thermocouple will be unable to detect either the build-up or the loss of heat energy. Alternatively, it is possible that the thermocouple will not be able to provide accurate results.

The gas supply to the furnace will be cut off even if the pilot light is illuminated by the device. Alternatively, it is possible that the pilot light is not functioning properly. In this particular instance, soot has accumulated on the thermocouple.

How to Clean Thermocouple on Water Heater?

Check to see that the power has been turned off before cleaning the thermocouple. This will prevent you from being electrocuted when cleaning the thermocouple. It is possible that the thermocouple’s ends have become rusted. It is possible that the pilot lights will not get electricity because of this. Use an emery cloth sandpaper to smooth off the edges of this piece. The sandpaper will be linked to a piece of cloth, which will make it easier and more flexible to rub on small portions of the surface.

Now, using a soft cloth, wipe the item clean.

After that, switch on the water heater and re-ignite the pilot light, if necessary.

If the water begins to heat up, this indicates that the cleaning procedure was successful.

How to Replace the Thermocouple?

Temperature sensors often survive several years, but they do not live any longer than the furnace it is attached to. It is thus necessary to replace the thermocouple if you notice that the pilot light is on but that the main furnace is not showing it. You may take your thermocouple to a hardware store if it isn’t operating properly. It is available in a variety of sizes, therefore you must match the size of the new thermocouple to the size of the existing thermocouple. If you are still unable to determine which thermocouple should be used, you should consult with the salesman for assistance.

Pull the bolts out of the way and push the thermocouple through the metal bracket that surrounds it to complete the installation.

Last updated on February 10, 2022 / Affiliate links included / Images sourced from the Amazon Product Advertising API

What is the Cost of the Replacement of Thermocouple?

Temperature-couple replacement is an expensive endeavor that is subject to fluctuation in price. The cost of hiring a professional plumber will be approximately $150 in most cases. If you install it yourself, the thermocouple will cost you around $20, which is the cost of the thermocouple itself.

Why Won’t my Pilot Light stay Lit on my Fireplace?

If your pilot light comes on but does not remain lighted for an extended period of time, there is an issue with the thermocouple. In this instance, it is necessary to replace the thermocouple. If this does not resolve the issue, the valve as a whole will need to be replaced. There is one thing that you can do on your own: educate yourself. On the valve, you may notice a little screw that adjusts the size of the pilot flame. This is normal. When the pilot flame is too low, it is necessary to do this procedure.

Are all Thermocouples the Same?

No. Thermocouples are distinct from one another. Its durability, temperature range, resistance to vibration, and application suitability are all unmatched by any other material. Type J, K, T, and E thermocouples are referred to as ‘Base Metal’ thermocouples. These are the most often encountered. The thermocouples of type R, S, and B are known as ‘Nobel Metal’ thermocouples. These are utilized in applications that need high temperatures.

When choosing thermocouples, consider their cost, high-temperature limitations, wide temperature range, and long-term durability. Last updated on February 10, 2022 / Affiliate links included / Images sourced from the Amazon Product Advertising API

What is the Difference Between Thermocouple and Thermopile?

A thermocouple is a device that is used to measure the temperature of the equipment to which it is connected. The potential difference is computed by the wires that come into contact with the device to which the thermocouple is attached, as shown in the diagram. Thermopiles are a sequence of thermocouples that are often employed when measuring temperature differences is difficult. It is often more sensitive than a single thermocouple in terms of temperature measurement. A thermopile will offer you with significantly greater voltage (about 600mV) than a single thermocouple (around 30mV).

So that’s all for this tutorial on how to clean the thermocouple on a water heater.

Even still, if there are any questions left, you can post them in the comments section below.

Why Water Heater Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit After Replacing Thermocouple?

This is not an uncommon problem that the majority of people will never be able to comprehend. Because the thermocouple is directly responsible for turning on the pilot light, it is quite probable that it will remain on for an extended period of time. However, if you are experiencing such difficulties, there are primarily two possible explanations. The first one, despite its poor electrical output, is the most important. Even if you have a new thermocouple fitted, it is possible that it will only emit a faint flame, which will explain why the pilot light is not blowing.

See also:  When Should A Water Heater Be Replaced

The other explanation is that the vent pipe is clogged.

If there is no weather cap on the vent, the wind may easily travel through it and fully blow it out if there is none on it.

Consequently, you must be explicit about the weather, followed by the burner holes.

How To Replace Thermocouple?

Replacement of a thermocouple is accomplished in a somewhat different manner in the case of electric ignition and gas-based ignition, respectively. You can proceed with any technique that corresponds to your preferred method of ignition. In the case of Electric Ignition

  1. The first step is to disconnect the gas control hub from the mains power. There is a little valve in place that is in charge of the gas supply at this location. It is essential that you switch it off before using it
  2. Once you have finished, you will be prompted to remove the assembly cover from the unit. This is located immediately outside of the combustion chamber to ensure the safety of the system. You must progressively remove the cover plate
  3. After you have gained access to the combustion chamber, you must remove the burner tube from the combustion chamber. This may be accomplished with the use of a range and a few screwdrivers
  4. The next step is to remove the front cover plate. There is an old gasket that serves as an additional layer of protection for the thermocouple. Remove the gasket, and then clean the surface with a mild detergent. It is quite simple to remove the thermocouple and replace it with a new one after the area is entirely clean for your use. Before you begin, take a picture of the setup to help you remember it later. When you are finished with the thermocouple replacement, reverse the procedure to finish the installation. It’s important to remember to tighten every screw you encounter.

In the case of a Standing-Pilot Water Heater

  1. Follow the steps through to the end, where you will find the burner assembly. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll need to carefully remove the component from the lower section of the heater
  2. You’ll now be able to see where the thermocouple is located. To remove this device from this location, you must twist and pull it out. You may now replace it with a new thermocouple and reinstall the unit
  3. Once you have finished reinstalling the unit, you can return the burner unit to its original position on the burner assembly. Make certain that all of the gas valves are correctly connected in order for it to ignite properly.

How to Replace Thermocouple On A Gas Water Heater?

Despite the fact that this technique is fairly straightforward, it is nonetheless impossible to do without the use of safety precautions.

It is possible for gas-based heaters to be harmful because they can heat up more quickly and because there may be gas valve leakage. As a result, you must be certain before proceeding with the replacement operation. If you want to learn more, you can follow the steps outlined below.

  1. Locate the thermocouple, which should be located on the rear of the heater. Because the thermocouple is located on the outside of the tank, you won’t have to open the tank to locate it. Identifying the joints and disconnecting them are also important steps. Make use of a sharp cutter to cut away the thermocouple connectivity that is now there. What you’ll need to do next is swap out the existing thermocouple for a new one. Make certain that it is connected to the valve in the right manner. Seal it from both ends if at all feasible to prevent leakage. It is necessary to reinstall the burner as a last step in the procedure. It is necessary to correctly tighten the nuts. To check on the heater’s operational status, you may now switch on the burner.

How to Clean Thermocouple on Water Heater?

Do you find that your showers are cooler than you would want them to be, or that the water you use for dishwashing is lukewarm? Knowing how to clean the thermocouple on a water heater may help you go back to taking more pleasurable showers and doing more efficient dishwashing, among other things. The thermocouple is a critical component of your gas water heater’s pilot light, since it allows for more effective water temperature regulation and hence greater efficiency. Unfortunately, it is susceptible to rusting and wearing down with time.

Things You Need to Clean Your Water Heater’s Thermocouple

A simple task such as cleaning the thermocouple on your gas water heater is not difficult to complete. However, there are some preparations that must be made in order to complete the task. 1. A Wrench with Adjustable Hexagons While open-end wrenches may be sufficient, you may find yourself with a large number of these tools on hand if you are unfamiliar with the sizes of the various nuts in your system. The use of an adjustable wrench removes the need for many tools and increases the efficiency of your operation.

  1. 2 Emery cloth is a type of abrasive cloth that is almost identical to a nail file in appearance.
  2. Despite this, the function is the same as before.
  3. 3.
  4. There will be no fluff left on the surface, which is one of its primary advantages.
  5. 4.
  6. If you are unable to remove persistent stains using an emery cloth, you can use a steel pool.

Step-by-step Guide to Cleaning a Water Heater’s Thermocouple

Step 1: Disconnect the gas supply to your water heater. When working with your gas water heater, always remember to keep your safety in mind. Turn off the gas to your unit by pressing the shutoff button. If your machine is equipped with a power chord, it is also recommended that you unplug it. One or two gas supply valves are included with certain gas water heaters: one for the gas furnace and another for the water heater. It would be safer to turn off both valves at the same time. A piece of advice: If your gas supply valve does not have a lever or a knob, you may shut it off with a set of pliers or a vise grip.

  • If your burner has an access cover, you must first remove the screws that hold it in place.
  • Remove the nut that links the burner supply line to the control center and turn it counterclockwise.
  • Any connections that are linked to the control center on your machine must also be disconnected at this time as well.
  • If you have a sensor, make sure it is disconnected.
  • The thermocouple will be accessible now.
  • This photograph serves as a reference for reassembling the device once it has been cleaned by removing the thermocouple.
  • Some plumbers propose using steel wool to clean persistent stains off the thermocouple, which they say is more effective.

Make a visual inspection for signs of corrosion in the area between the thermocouple terminal and the power line.

Finish by wiping the thermocouple ends with a clean microfiber towel or another kind of lint-free cloth to remove any remaining dirt.

It is possible that some of these goods include combustible chemicals, which can be hazardous to your system and to your property.

It is also the best time to give the burner a thorough cleaning at this time of year.

Remove any dirt that may have gotten into the burner ports or holes with a fine bristle brush.

Step 5: Assemble the Burner back together.

Make sure that the burner tube is securely resting on the bracket for maximum security and stability.

If your unit is equipped with a vapor sensor, make sure you reconnect it first before connecting the various wires to the water heater gas valve.

Reconnect the pilot light supply line and the burner gas supply tube to the control center or gas valve, if they were disconnected before.

Turn on your water heater in the sixth step.

Start by turning on the pilot light and adjusting the thermostat to the temperature you choose. A temperature of no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit would be the most appropriate setting for this situation. Determine whether or not the temperature of your water matches your preferences.


Do you believe our simplified tutorial on how to clean the thermocouple on a water heater is straightforward and easy to follow? If so, please share your thoughts. The fact that your water heater is not providing hot enough water might be due to a variety of factors. One of these is a filthy thermocouple, which is something that many people ignore. Now that you know how to clean the thermocouple on your gas water heater, you might want to pass along your newfound information to your friends. He or she will be grateful to you for sparing them the expense of costly repairs and replacements while still allowing them to enjoy the benefits of a fully operational water heater.

No Hot Water? Restore It Yourself

Your gas water heater’s burner chamber has what’s known as a thermocouple, which is a little metal cylinder that sits directly in front of the pilot light. The thermocouple is a safety device that detects when the pilot light is on and has to be replaced. If the pilot light goes out, the thermocouple sends a signal to the gas valve, which keeps the valve closed until the pilot light returns.

A worn out thermocouple is one of the most common gas water heater problems

Thermalcouples wear down over time, causing the pilot light to go out, the burner to not fire, and the lack of hot water to result. First, try re-igniting the pilot by following the instructions on the tank’s side panel. It is possible that the thermocouple is defective if the pilot ignites but the flame goes out as soon as you release the button after holding it for 60 seconds. It is feasible to change the thermocouple without having to disassemble the burner assembly, and many repair technicians do so.

  • Even though this work is straightforward, you should not do it unless you are familiar with how to turn off the gas to the water heater and are confident in your ability to relight the pilot.
  • A wide variety of thermocouples for water heaters may be found at most hardware stores and home improvement centers.
  • Then purchase a replacement in the same size.
  • If your water heater does not appear to be the same as the one seen, contact a repair service.

How to Clean a Thermocouple in Water Heater the Right Way

Is your pilot light going out on you without warning? It’s possible that a filthy or defective thermocouple is to blame.

What is the best way to tell whether your thermocouple is bad? And what is the best way to clean a thermocouple in a hot water heater? This PlumbingNav tutorial will assist you in determining whether or not you have a problem with your thermocouple, and will teach you how to clean it if you do.

Understanding a Water Heater Thermocouple

A thermocouple is an electrical sensor that measures temperature. A thermometer is connected to two wires on one end and a thermometer on the other end. When the pilot light on the water heater goes out, this component serves as a safety precaution by turning off the gas to the water heater. When the thermocouple comes into touch with heat, it creates a tiny electrical current that may be measured (the flame from the pilot). When the heat generates an electrical current, the electrical current maintains the open position of the gas valve.

All of these features have been created with your safety in mind.

How to Clean Your Water Heater’s Thermocouple

Simple step-by-step instructions on how to clean the thermocouple on a gas water heater are included in this article. If your pilot light goes out on a regular basis, this may be the solution. First: Assemble the following materials: Avoid using any cleaning goods that include chemicals when choosing your supplies. Despite the fact that the cleaner advertises itself as a thermocouple cleanser, chemicals and gas should never be mixed. Keep your family safe by avoiding these types of cleaners.

Step 1: Verify the Thermocouple is the Problem

What is the best way to tell whether your thermocouple needs to be cleaned? One simple technique to identify if your hot water heater’s thermocouple is the source of your problems is to pay close attention to what occurs when you turn on the pilot light. If the pilot light comes on, but then goes out when you release the ignition button, the thermocouple is most likely to be to responsible for the problem. Insufficient heating of the thermocouple is being provided by the pilot to maintain a high enough electrical current to keep the gas valve closed.

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If you are certain that the thermocouple requires cleaning, go to the next step in the procedure to clean it.

Step 2: Turn Off Gas

When working on a hot water heater, the first step is always to switch off the gas supply to the appliance. Using this method, you may be certain of your safety while you clean the thermocouple. Make it a practice to switch off the gas to your gas water heater whenever you are performing maintenance or repairs on it. Find the gas control valve on your gas water heater and turn it on. This valve is typically located at the bottom of the unit in most circumstances. To turn off the gas, turn the valve 90 degrees clockwise.

Step 3: Detach Burner Assembly

Remove the burner plate in order to have good access to the thermocouple. You will need to unplug the wires that are connected to the control center at this point. The thermocouple, the main supply tube, and the pilot supply tube are all linked to the circuit in three places.

The thermocouple is represented by the little copper wire. You should be able to remove the burner assembly and gain access to the thermocouple at this point in the process. Experts recommend taking a picture before removing the burner component in order to ensure that it is reattached correctly.

Step 4: Clean Thermocouple Thoroughly

In terms of thermocouple concerns, silt buildup on the thermocouple itself and corrosion at the connections are the most serious issues to deal with. Sandpaper will be used to remove the silt accumulation that has formed. It is possible to use steel wool instead of sandpaper if the sandpaper does not appear to be making the necessary progress. Remove any corrosion or rust that has built up between the control center and the power cable, and give the thermocouple a thorough wipe down with a cloth.

Again, avoid the use of chemical cleansers since they might cause difficulties when they come into touch with the pilot.

Step 5: Replace Burner Assembly

Now that the thermocouple has been cleaned, it is time to replace the burner unit. First, reconnect the gas supply to the pilot, as well as the pilot to the gas supply. After that, you’ll screw the lid back on again. You can use the photograph you took earlier, or you can refer to the owner’s instructions if that is more convenient. Make certain that all connections are secure.

Step 6: Reignite Pilot and Check Water

Relight the pilot light on your water heater if it has been turned off. In order to accomplish this, you will need to set the indicator to “pilot” and hit the ignition button simultaneously. As soon as the flame begins to burn and you have pressed the button for 30 – 60 seconds, turn the switch to the “ON” position. Examine the hot water to confirm that it is still hot after 1 – 3 hours, depending on your water heater model. If the water heater looks to be operational once again, that is fantastic.

Step 7: Call a Plumber

We at PlumbingNav wish to assist you in doing easy repairs and maintenance tasks on your own time. However, there comes a moment when you must know when to stand aside and let an expert to mend what you have attempted to correct. If your attempts to fix the problem have failed and you are becoming frustrated, a plumber can help you solve the problem. This is especially important if there is gas extraction involved.

Thermocouple FAQs

A thermocouple is only found in gas water heaters. A thermocouple will not be present if your water heater is powered by electricity. A thermocouple is not used by all gas water heaters. A mercury sensor is used in some gas water heaters. For further information on the system that your specific water heater employs, consult your owner’s handbook.

How do I know if my thermocouple is bad on my water heater?

It is common for the pilot light to not illuminate as the first indicator of a malfunctioning thermocouple. Please bear in mind, however, that this does not rule out the possibility of a pilot light being ignited. That indicates the presence of a separate issue (likely a blocked pilot tube). You should suspect a problem with the thermocouple if the light comes on but then goes out after you release the ignition key from the ignition button. Unlike a pilot light that has gone out, this one does not need to be recharged.

Can water damage a thermocouple?

Yes. However, before replacing the thermocouple after it has been exposed to water or has been flooded, you should attempt to dry it out.

Remove the thermocouple and allow it to air dry for several hours. You could also want to try drying it with a hairdryer on a low level to get it completely dry. After you’ve allowed the thermocouple to dry fully, you may connect it. If it continues to malfunction, you will need to get it replaced.

How do you test a water heater thermocouple?

Using a multimeter, you can evaluate whether or not your thermocouple needs to be replaced. Set the multimeter to display “ohms” as the reading. Two leads should be connected together after being taken from the meter. They should be written as “0.” Set the voltmeter back to its original setting. After that, heat the thermocouple by placing it directly over an open flame. Connect the leads of the multimeter to the thermocouple once it has reached a comfortable temperature. Your thermocouple should offer a measurement of between 25 and 30 millivolts, depending on its manufacturer.

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How to Clean a Thermocouple Water Heater

As an Amazon Associate, we receive a commission on qualifying purchases made via our links. It is really necessary to clean a thermocouple water heater since it is such an important aspect of its maintenance. Failure to do so will result in issues in the future. If you want to prevent them, let’s look at how to clean a thermocouple water heater in a short amount of time and with care.

How to Clean a Thermocouple Water Heater

When a water heater fails to function correctly, it does not necessitate the purchase of a new one. One of the most likely causes may be a thermocouple that has been compromised and is filthy. The use of the product over time results in calcite deposits, which cause the product to malfunction. As a result, it is necessary to clean it.

Gather The Required Tools

  • The following items are required: an adjustable wrench
  • Emery cloth, sandpaper, an abrasive sponge, or steel wool
  • Microfiber or other lint-free cloth is recommended.

Method1: How to Clean a Thermocouple Water Heater (Electric)

This is more of a method of taking precautionary measures. You don’t want to get electrocuted, which is why you need to switch off the electrical power source.

Step2: Identify Its Thermocouple

Because it is either a tiny wire or a metal tube, the thermocouple is simple to spot in the laboratory. It’s not far from the pilot light tube, which is convenient.

Step3: Loosen the Thermocouple

After you’ve identified it, you’ll need to loosen it in order to clean it. Depending on the model of your water heater, you’ll require a different set of tools. A screwdriver or a wrench are both acceptable options.

Step4: Clean It

Begin by cleaning away any build-up or corrosion. Make use of abrasive sponges, steel wool, or emery cloths, but be sure to clean gently to avoid scratching the surface. Make certain that the threading of the screws that link the thermocouple to the water heater is not overlooked during installation. Pressure should be applied uniformly, which is also very crucial. It is best not to use a flammable cleaning product.

Step5: Wipe the Thermocouple

A lint-free towel can help remove any remaining particles that may have been left behind after scrubbing. Remove any contaminants from the thermocouple with a microfiber cloth once it has been cleaned.

Step6: Reattach the Thermocouple

Could you please restore it to its original location once it has been thoroughly cleaned? It is not difficult since all you have to do is follow these steps:

  • Slide it into the metal bracket so that it is properly aligned
  • Once it’s in position, tighten it down. Use your bare hands to spin its nuts at first, as a precaution to avoid stripping them of their threads. Finally, tighten it with a wrench, being careful not to apply too much pressure while doing so.

Step7: Turn the Water Heater Back On

Because the thermocouple has been cleaned, your water heater is now ready to operate at peak performance.

Method2: How To Clean A Thermocouple Water Heater (Gas)

Because of the additional components, the technique for cleaning a gas water heater differs significantly from that of an electric water heater.

Step1: Shut the Gas Inlet Valve

Unlike the previous type, which required you to turn off the electricity, this one requires you to turn off the gas valve. Once again, this measure is being taken for your own protection.

Step2: Disconnect Burner Assembly

To detach the control center and the burner assembly, use a wrench to pry them apart. You will be detaching it from the pilot supply tube, the main supply tube, and the thermocouple during this process.

Step3: Remove the Thermocouple

Remove the complete burner assembly, including the thermocouple, by sliding it out. Because we are cleaning the same components as in the prior technique, the following two phases are quite identical to the previous way.

Step4: Clean It

Scrub and clean any build-up or corrosion in the same manner as previously. Because the build-up is likely to be sticky and difficult, it’s best to use items that are abrasive, such as an abrasive sponge, steel wool, or emery cloth, to remove it. But keep in mind to be careful with it and to apply equal pressure all the way around. It is best not to use any cleaning products that are flammable.

Step5: Wipe the Thermocouple

Cleaning the thermocouple after scouring it should be done with a lint-free cloth in order to eliminate any remaining particles. Using a microfiber cloth is preferable for this stage since it is more thorough.

Step6: Clean the Burner

A good time to clean your burner so that it can begin burning more effectively is now.

Step7: Reconnect the Assembly

Following your cleaning session, make sure to restore every component of the system to its proper location.

Step8: Open the Gas Valve

To provide fuel to the water heater, open the gas valve on the water heater.

Step9: Light It

Go ahead and turn on the pilot light. Your heater should be in perfect working order. An instructional video on how to clean a gas thermocouple water heater is provided below.

Frequently Asked Questions

The pilot light does not remain illuminated as a symptom. However, it should not be confused with a case of its blockage. The pilot light will not illuminate if you are dealing with a blockage, despite the fact that the gas is turned on. You may find a few examples of pilot outages as well as troubleshooting methods on this page.

What Causes a Thermocouple to Fail?

Thermocouples are designed to respond swiftly to temperature changes by expanding or contracting in response to whether the temperature is high or low, respectively. If these adjustments occur too frequently, the system gets weakened. As the rapid fluctuations continue, the thermocouple begins to deteriorate, finally failing completely.

Is a Thermocouple Different From an RTD?

Resistance Temperature Detectors (RTDs) and thermocouples are both used for the same purpose in the same way. The latter, on the other hand, answers far more quickly than the former. RTDs, in terms of their operating principle, employ resistance to control the flow of electricity.


If you’re experiencing problems with your water heater, cleaning the thermocouple might make all the difference in the world. This may even free up some of your time from having to clean so much around the house.

Make certain that you follow the proper technique in order to achieve excellent outcomes. Also keep an eye out for items that are not related to it, such as nails. It will be a complete waste of time, money, and resources if this is not done.

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