Home Improvement

It’s just a thermocouple they said. That’s no problem they said.

By July 9, 2019 2 Comments

Tried to replace the thermocouple on my hot water heater. Everything went south from the start. The last person who jiggerd with the hot water heater decided to be a hero and wrenched every connection so tight it was nearly impossible to get them off. I think they also installed the piolet tube using the nut that belongs on the burner end of the unit. Anyway, In trying to disconnect the piolet tube I punctured it. So, tomorrow I’m going to take an ice cold shower and pay some guy what I imagine will be an ungodly sum to do the job right.

Anyone have an idea as to what it should cost me to replace the piolet tube, make sure the thermocouple is in place and put everything back where it belongs? Just looking for a ballpark guess, I won’t hold you to it. Thanks.

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  • VirtualMess says:

    When I had the same issue, I believe I was quoted around $800. I ended up just having the whole heater replaced and a new gas valve installed instead for about double that.

  • BlahBlahBlankSheep says:

    What kind of water heater do you have?

    There are 2 kinds. An FVIR, which is a sealed unit(can’t light with a match) that you have to remove screws and a front plate with fireproof gasket. And there is the “old style” where you remove the 2 covers and can easily light the pilot with a match.

    The FVIR type has a pilot tube that goes through the metal plate and is not meant to be replaced by itself. The whole burner assembly should be replaced. It’s usually about $125-$150 for the part online. Labor is at least $100 an hour and it “should” only take an hour. I’ve done many of these and unless the nuts are stripped to shit then it’s easy.

    The “old style” water heaters can have pilot tubes easily replaced. Google some YouTube videos and buy some pilot tube, a pilot tube cutter, and pilot tube compression fittings. It’s easy enough but Home Depot doesn’t have them so you’ll have to go to a plumbing supply store (that may not sell to the public) or buy it online. This will also take around an hour but maybe 2 depending on other factors.

    Easiest solution is to replace the whole burner assembly and do it yourself. As you are competent enough to change a thermocouple you can do this easily.

    Watch a You Tube video on how to do it.

    Use lithium grease on the threads of the compression fittings, not pipe dope. Put a capful of dish soap and water in a spray bottle from the dollar store, shake it and spray the fittings after your done to check for gas leaks. If there are no bubbles, there are no troubles. If there are then tighten fittings as necessary and/or remove, degrease and tighten again. Remember to watch for bubbles while the water heater main burner is on.

    If you pay for a professional then expect to pay $200-600 depending on their markups and competence.

    *Disclaimer: I’m not a plumber or licensed contractor, I work for a large gas utility company in CA and work on gas appliances every day. This is what I’ve done on my own appliances and want to pass my experiences on.

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