How to Install a Thermo Coupling


Learning how to install a thermo coupling only takes a few minutes and can save you hundreds of dollars in plumbing repair bills. Waiting on a plumber to fix your heater can take days. Why take cold showers when you do not have to. You can find thermocouples and the tools you will need at almost any hardware store or home center across the country. The average cost of a new thermocouple in 2011 is around $10.

Things You'll Need

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Pliers
  • Dish soap
  • Spray bottle
  • Turn the gas control to the off position. Turn the small black dial on the top of the gas valve all the way to the left until it is in its off position. You may want wait a few minutes for the internal burner parts to cool off before working inside the burner chamber.

  • Remove both the outer access door and the inner burn cover. Older models will allow access easily. Newer models are equipped with a sealed combustion chamber inner door. In case of a sealed inner door, you will need to order a seal kit before removing. Unscrew the thermocouple fastening nut from the gas control valve with a small adjustable wrench.

  • Pull the thermocouple down and out of the pilot light assembly. The thermo coupler should easily remove by hand. If necessary, you can use pliers to extract the coupling, since you are going to recycle it anyway. To access the thermocouple on a new water heater, you will need to unscrew the pilot tube, burner supply tube and thermo coupling from the gas control valve, and then remove the entire burner assembly.

  • Insert the new thermocouple into the pilot light assembly. Make sure the end of the thermocouple is positioned where the pilot flame will contact the top 3/4 inch of the thermocouple’s probe. If the flame does not contact enough of the probe's surface area, the water heater will not stay lit. Attach the other end of the thermocouple to the gas control valve with your adjustable wrench.

  • Reinstall the burner assembly and new seal kit if necessary. Tighten all gas connections securely to the gas control valve. Replace the inner chamber door according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Relight the pilot and start the water heater. Check for leaks around the pilot and burner tube connections to the control valve by spraying a thin mixture of dish soap and water around them. If you see bubbles form around the joints, immediately turn off the gas valve and tighten the connections.

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