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Troubleshoot water heater thermopile
pilot light troubleshoot
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Back to 14 things for troubleshooting gas water heater
10) troubleshoot thermocouple- thermopile, pilot light
Pilot light heats the thermocouple or thermopile, producing small millivoltage of electricity that travels to the gas control valve along the copper pilot tube. If the pilot light goes out, the lack of electric current shuts down the gas control valve and pilot light needs to be lit again. Older model gas water heaters required a long match and patience to relight pilot, while more recent water heaters are required to have sealed combustion chamber and use a piezo igniter to light pilot.
Thermocouple and thermopile are different. Thermopile is basically several thermocouples combined and produces more current than thermocouple. Thermocouples are used with older-style mechanical gas control valves that have a round dial on front. Thermopiles produce enough current to power small circuit board and are used with modern electronic gas control valves.

Look upward, and to one side, through sight glass to see that pilot flame is lit and clear blue color.
Causes for pilot outage:
Backdraft from shared vent and wind coming down the flue can blow out the pilot. see section 11 for venting. Dirty combustion parts and need for maintenance can also cause outage. see section 7. Bad thermopile or thermocouple. Misaligned thermocouple can also cause outage. Modern water heaters have solved the misalignment problem with fixed positioning and 1-piece replacement for combustion parts. see section 7. Bad gas control valve can cause pilot outage. see section 6.
Pilot light troubleshoot:
Clean the air intake, and get more fresh air to unit.
 Push in TCO located on front of combustion chamber.
Pilot troubleshoot resources
Test thermocouple
How to light gas water heater
Pilot light goes out
Burner goes out when control knob turned to ON
Pilot light will not stay lit/ pdf
Pilot outage/ pdf
Pilot problem or ECO or gas control?
Wind blows out pilot light
Pilot light or thermocouple?
Negative pressure blows out pilot
Pilot orifice
Pilot tube orifice
Clean with compressed air or carburetor cleaner
Do not rub with rag, or tube can clog
Pilot troubleshoot resources con't
Standing pilot light maintenance
Attic Ventilation and Pilot Outage
Pilot outage and negative pressure
Pilot light maintenance/ pdf
Ventilating tight-house/ pdf
Pilot light troubleshoot
pilot assembly
Rheem Pilot assembly
AO Smith Pilot
Reliance Pilot
Kenmore Pilot
Bradford White Pilot
Gas water heater
Gas water heater
How to remove burner
Avoid Corrosive environments
Exposure to corrosive environments such as pool chemicals, process chemicals, bleach can damage burner parts.
Air is drawn into water heater, and if air contains trace amounts of chemical, or chemicals are burned in the flame, this will damage water heaters over time, and shorten life of water heater
Remove chemicals from same room as water heater.
-Chemicals that will corrode water heater parts and vent pipe include: 'Spray propellants, cleaning solvents, refrigerants, swimming pool chemicals, calcium and sodium chloride, household bleach, waxes and process chemicals ... all these chemicals are corrosive at very low levels with no odor."
Read Bradford White Pdf pg2-8   
Read Rheem pdf
Avoid corrosive atmospheres

piezo igniter
AO Smith igniter
Rheem igniter
Reliance igniter
Piezo igniter
Today's water heaters have igniter to send spark to pilot light to start flame.
Older water heaters have open combustion chamber and pilot was lit with a match ... the piezo igniter helps prevent explosion into someone's face, or ignition of flammable vapors in the room caused by open flame.
The igniter is part of the FV flammable vapor prevention system where the combustion chamber is sealed so flames cannot easily travel from inside combustion chamber out into surrounding room.

How to test piezo igniter
How to check the igniter
Electronic spark troubleshoot
Troubleshoot hot surface ignition
Hot surface igniter troubleshoot
Power vent hot surface ignition

Thermocouples at Amazon
Thermocouple adapters

Thermocouple Test and replacement
How to test water heater thermocouple
How to replace thermocouple pdf
How to replace thermocouple/ forum
Test thermocouple
Test thermocouple and thermopile

Thermocouple/ thermopile
Remove burner & replace thermocouple thermopile
Gas water heater burner assembly
How to Remove burner & replace thermocouple thermopile

How to light gas water heater
Pilot light goes out
Burner goes out when control knob turned to ON
Pilot light will not stay lit/ pdf
Pilot outage/ pdf
Attic Ventilation and Pilot Outage
Pilot outage and negative pressure
Pilot light maintenance/ pdf
Ventilating tight-house/ pdf
Pilot light troubleshoot
when thermostat set lower
Pilot problem or ECO or gas control?
Wind blows out pilot light
Pilot light or thermocouple?
Negative pressure blows out pilot

14 things needed for gas water heater & .pdf resources
What you need for operation of gas water heater.
General troubleshoot
1) Basic parts and operation
2) Adequate incoming air supply ... issues: closed doors, tightly insulated house, very hot attic.
3) Adequate air supply getting to burner... issues: dirty vent screen, dirty environment, maintenance.
4) Thermal cutoff  ... TCO ... issues: failed part, maintenance, vent.

5) Flammable vapor lockout .... issues: exposure to vapors, bad FV sensor, failed FV system,
6) Fuel supply to gas valve thermostat ... natural gas and propane are different ... issues: wrong gas, low pressure, moisture in pipe, undersized gas meter, supply line too small for BTU rating.
7) Gas valve thermostat regulates fuel supply ... issues: not enough gas, failed thermostat, failed gas control valve.

8) Fuel supply from thermostat to burner ... issues: maintenance, thermocouple-thermopile, gas control valve.
9) Clean and replace burner ... issue: periodic maintenance requires burner inspection, cleaning, and possible replacement

10) Functioning thermopile-thermocouple-pilot light ... issues: misalignment, failure of part.
11) Ignition of fuel supply by pilot light or hot surface igniter ... issues: pilot light, piezo igniter, electrode.

12) Power vent water heater troubleshoot ... issues: pressure switch, blower, blower sequence from gas control, outlet polarity
13) Venting combustion byproduct .... issues: vent in disrepair, other vents in house drawing air

14) Misc troubleshoot manuals
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