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ProtusMose
Immortal. Eternal.
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Bellevue, NE
kudos:4
Reviews:
·ooma

Water heater pilot light won't light

So my wife went to take her bath last night and noticed we had no hot water. I went and checked the water heater and the pilot light was off. I switched the knob back to Pilot and tried to light it a couple dozen times. It's got a strong spark, but it won't light at all. Looks like there's just no gas getting to the chamber. Normally I'd think it's the thermocouple, but I think that's usually only if it lights but won't stay light.

My wife is calling someone later, but if it *is* just the thermocouple, I can fix that for $10 probably instead of paying someone a hundred bucks to do it. Could it be as simple as the thermalcouple or is there something else going on?
--
Blogsaus "The same crowd that cheers at your triumphant entry will be the ones that crucify you in the end. Consider this: the very thing that is worth dying for will be the very thing they hate you for - Andrew Schwab


comp
Premium
join:2001-08-16
Evans City, PA

Do you have anything else that uses gas to rule out Gas not coming into the house?



ProtusMose
Immortal. Eternal.
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Bellevue, NE
kudos:4
Reviews:
·ooma

said by comp:

Do you have anything else that uses gas to rule out Gas not coming into the house?
Yeah, I checked the stove right away. Lights right away. Let it burn for about 5 minutes to make sure it wasn't just burning residual gas in the line.
--
Blogsaus "The same crowd that cheers at your triumphant entry will be the ones that crucify you in the end. Consider this: the very thing that is worth dying for will be the very thing they hate you for - Andrew Schwab

nibyak

join:2003-01-28
Strasburg, VA
reply to ProtusMose

I don’t have a gas hot water heater but do have a gas “wood stove”. If I have to light the pilot, I have to switch it to pilot and then push the knob in and hold it while pressing the igniter. After a minute I can let go of the knob. I believe this lets the gas flow while the thermocouple heats up.



Anonymous_
Anonymous
Premium
join:2004-06-21
127.0.0.1
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

1 edit
reply to ProtusMose

said by ProtusMose:

said by comp:

Do you have anything else that uses gas to rule out Gas not coming into the house?
Yeah, I checked the stove right away. Lights right away. Let it burn for about 5 minutes to make sure it wasn't just burning residual gas in the line.
If it were turned off Nothing would be burning (even residual gas )
as there is Nothing to push the gas

and it's not easy to make a vacuum in the gas line


Pacrat
Old and Cranky
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-10
Cortland, OH
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

1 edit
reply to ProtusMose

Our old oven used to act like that every once in awhile. The pilot was fed by a very narrow slot in the pilot tube. Every now and then, we'd have to take it out and, literally, use a razor blade to clean it out again. Then, it'd be good for a couple of years or so, and we'd have to do it all over again. Found that a razor blade was the only thing thin enough to get into the slot/slit to clean it out. It might be that simple... pilot is clogged up.
--
I was born at night... but not last night!


HarryH3
Premium
join:2005-02-21
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Suddenlink
reply to ProtusMose

As nibyak eluded to, did you push down on the button while trying to light the pilot? When the thermocouple is cold, no gas will flow. This is how the heater is able to turn off the gas flow if no flame is detected. You have to press the control knob down, in the pilot position, to temporarily bypass the thermocouple lockout. Then gas will flow and the pilot should light.

You'll need to keep holding the knob down for 30-60 seconds after the pilot lights, to give the thermocouple time to come up to temp. If the pilot light goes out after holding the knob for at least a minute and then releasing, then it's likely that the thermocouple has failed. They can be found at most hardware stores fairly cheaply and are easy to swap out (at least on older heaters. It looks a bit more complicated on newer, closed-chamber heaters).



ProtusMose
Immortal. Eternal.
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Bellevue, NE
kudos:4
reply to ProtusMose

Had my wife go home and hold the button to try and restart it. Didn't work so I let her have repair guy look at it. It is the thermocouple. Not sure if she's having him do it yet or listened tome and is going to let me take care of it.



jack b
Gone Fishing
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-08
Cape Cod
kudos:1

The thermocouple has nothing to do with the pilot itself not lighting.
Turn the control knob to the pilot position and push down. The pilot should be able to light, if not, there is some other problem.
If the pilot lights and goes out when the control knob is released, THEN you can consider the thermocouple defective.
--
~Help Find a Cure for Cancer~
~Proud Member of Team Discovery ~



ProtusMose
Immortal. Eternal.
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Bellevue, NE
kudos:4
Reviews:
·ooma

Mr. Rooter came and looked at it. They said it is the thermal couple and are charging $215 to replace it. When my wife told me this, I flipped out and showed her the link for a new one for $9.96 at home depot. I got a hold of the manager at Mr. Rooter. He said the generic ones at retail will only work for the old, open air one. Mine's one of the newer ones with everything enclosed (ie no way to manual light) and that it requires replacing the whole assembly. (couple,pilot,burner,etc,etc)


--
Blogsaus "The same crowd that cheers at your triumphant entry will be the ones that crucify you in the end. Consider this: the very thing that is worth dying for will be the very thing they hate you for - Andrew Schwab



hitachi369
Embrace Your Rights
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Grand Rapids, MI
kudos:4

Get quotes from other companies, around here Mr. Rooter are horribly overpriced..



runnoft
Premium
join:2003-10-14
Nags Head, NC
kudos:1

1 edit
reply to ProtusMose

You know, I'm seeing more and more crap like this these days. It's like for a lot of firms, it's $125 to roll a truck down the street. They don't even want to bother with you if you think that's too much. And then if it's a woman, or a senior citizen, or somebody else they're "servicing" that they think they can put one over on, they tack on another hundred bucks just for good measure.

I would be furious, too. This is a ripoff. You should consider your options.



capecoddah

join:2005-03-18
Yarmouth Port, MA
kudos:1
reply to ProtusMose

Quote I got was $125+ for a thermocouple replacement last year. I went to a Plumbing supply store (not a big-box) and got one with some free advice for $25 or so.



tp0d
yabbazooie
Premium
join:2001-02-13
Carnegie, PA
kudos:5
reply to ProtusMose

Can you post your make, model number and serial #? If it was made after 2003, it is a sealed combustion unit that does require a special thermocouple. Some still use a regular thermocouple, but only in models produced post 2008.

PM me the info if you dont want to do it here, I can give you some advise. Hope rooter man didnt ream ya too good.

-j
--
if it aint broke, tweak it!!
currently on FiOS (kick aZZ!)



jack b
Gone Fishing
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-08
Cape Cod
kudos:1
reply to ProtusMose

Make them leave the "defective" parts, and upload a picture.



ProtusMose
Immortal. Eternal.
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Bellevue, NE
kudos:4
Reviews:
·ooma
reply to tp0d

Oh, ream us he did. I gave the go ahead after I talked to the manager because we have to have showers tonight. I didn't feel like heating water on the stove for sponge baths. When I got home, he was finishing up and told me we saved money. Even though the chamber is enclosed, it was old enough that it used the old couple. I'm thinking, "Great, maybe it's $60, instead of $215". These awesome savings knocked it down to:

Replace Thermocouple - $174.95
Clean Burner Assembly - No charge
Clean Igniter Sensor - $17.95
- $20 coupon.
------------------------------------------------
$172.93

I questioned him about the $174 to replace a $10 part and got a spiel about how we're paying for the experience and education of the installer. Granted, I'm no plumber, but I guarantee the difference between his putting it in and my putting it in isn't $165. We've used them a couple times in the past. This is likely the last time, though.

I'm not sure I'll be able to walk straight for a few days. :\
--
Blogsaus "The same crowd that cheers at your triumphant entry will be the ones that crucify you in the end. Consider this: the very thing that is worth dying for will be the very thing they hate you for - Andrew Schwab



KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
reply to ProtusMose

I'm thinking you could replace the entire tank for less!



KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
reply to ProtusMose

Oh yeah, he saved you a ton of money.

Motel room would of been cheaper



KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
reply to ProtusMose

Go nuke them on Angie's List.



hortnut
Huh?

join:2005-09-25
PNW
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast
reply to ProtusMose

I had about 10 propane heaters [from 75,000 Btu to 250,000 Btu], in my greenhouses that had a standing pilot. Almost every year the orifice would need to be cleaned out. Spiders loved to make nests around them. In 25 years never had to replace a Thermocouple. Just had to field strip them at the top of 12 foot ladder to get to the nozzle and clean the orifice. Lit right up afterwards.

I got a very fine wire like device from my Propane supplier to do the cleaning.

Later have had several gas water heaters where the same thing happened [access to the heaters was from the outside].

Even had a gas furnace, with electronic start, that over the summer the gas orifice would plug.
--
Darn, its gettin that time to go to Wallymart to gits me picture taken agin.



tp0d
yabbazooie
Premium
join:2001-02-13
Carnegie, PA
kudos:5
reply to ProtusMose

The 'rooter' franchises really jack up the prices. I wish I charged 172$ for the same work, I`d be better off.

How old is this heater, and what make?

-j
--
if it aint broke, tweak it!!
currently on FiOS (kick aZZ!)



ProtusMose
Immortal. Eternal.
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Bellevue, NE
kudos:4

Tag on it says it's a Bradford White MI5036FBN2
Can't find any indication of a manufacture date but the manual has a last revised date of 5/03, so no more than 6 years old.



zen1

@optonline.net
reply to ProtusMose

here's the sevice manual for it, it has an easily replaceable thermopile. »www.bradfordwhite.com/images/sha···43-D.pdf it looks like you got ripped big time.



jrs8084
Premium
join:2002-03-02
Statesville, NC
kudos:1
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
reply to ProtusMose

Ahh, Protus, don't lose too much sleep over this. I know you are smarting over the $200 price, but it really isn't a life altering cost.

Yeah, it is a bit pricey, but in fairness, they did fix a problem you couldn't or weren't able to. So, you paid for their service, and you got your hot water.

I doubt this won't be your last instance where you have to pay $$ for something you could have easily done much cheaper yourself. But, sometimes life just doesn't give you that choice



zen1

@optonline.net
reply to ProtusMose

well, from what i found, it's only $5.48 for the thermocouple.
»kscdirect.com/item/BRD%2B233-465···529%250A



ProtusMose
Immortal. Eternal.
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Bellevue, NE
kudos:4
Reviews:
·ooma
reply to jrs8084

said by jrs8084:

Ahh, Protus, don't lose too much sleep over this. I know you are smarting over the $200 price, but it really isn't a life altering cost.
Guess that depends on your salary.


anonplumber7

@charter.com
reply to ProtusMose

You're actually paying for a plumber at maybe 55 bucks an hour if he's union. Probably less with a mr. rooter guy. That includes hourly wage, insurance and whatnot too. He probably drives a 30,000 dollar van or maybe a box van which could cost more. Insurance, 1500 dollar a month yellow page ad at least, tools, insurance, bond, franchise fees. Mr. Rooter gets a percentage of every service call...

They're not making as much as you would think. The fact that it costs 10 dollars for the part doesn't mean much at all. It costs a lot more for the company just for that guy to show up at the door.

but I have had good luck cleaning off the thermocouple...

By the way, I know that mr. rooter gives up front pricing. If you had a problem with it why not tell him to leave?



runnoft
Premium
join:2003-10-14
Nags Head, NC
kudos:1

2 edits

said by anonplumber7 :

You're actually paying for a plumber at maybe 55 bucks an hour if he's union. Probably less with a mr. rooter guy. That includes hourly wage, insurance and whatnot too. He probably drives a 30,000 dollar van or maybe a box van which could cost more. Insurance, 1500 dollar a month yellow page ad at least, tools, insurance, bond, franchise fees. Mr. Rooter gets a percentage of every service call...

They're not making as much as you would think. The fact that it costs 10 dollars for the part doesn't mean much at all. It costs a lot more for the company just for that guy to show up at the door.

but I have had good luck cleaning off the thermocouple...

By the way, I know that mr. rooter gives up front pricing. If you had a problem with it why not tell him to leave?
I understand the economics of rolling a stocked truck with an expert technician, he can only make so many calls a day, his expenses build even when there aren't enough calls, franchise company that drove out the mom and pop shops, yadda yadda, but here's the point you're missing, anonplumber. If they charge over $175 or $215 for a five-minute repair job on a $10 part most customers can do themselves, and the customer realizes he's being ripped off, that same plumber doesn't get called back when there's a more expensive repair that requires some real expertise, and buys some bad word-of-mouth and online reviews to boot. It's shortsighted. Sometimes the smarter thing to do is to give the customer a break somewhere and use the quick easy repair to build a longer-term customer relationship. There are lots of ways to do that.

I note you're quoting $1500+ monthly for a yellow page ad. I wonder how long it will be before that starts to seem like a ripoff to you because customers are moving away from yellow pages before calling a plumber. It may still work now, especially if it's easy-mark senior citizens that are the target audience, but I wonder for how long.


ProtusMose
Immortal. Eternal.
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Bellevue, NE
kudos:4
Reviews:
·ooma
reply to anonplumber7

said by anonplumber7 :

By the way, I know that mr. rooter gives up front pricing. If you had a problem with it why not tell him to leave?
Because I can't leave work to be there during the day when they came. My wife, who doesn't know any better, was there. I had to get play by play in between calls. He had already left to go get parts by the time I found out anything about it.
--
Blogsaus "The same crowd that cheers at your triumphant entry will be the ones that crucify you in the end. Consider this: the very thing that is worth dying for will be the very thing they hate you for - Andrew Schwab


Pacrat
Old and Cranky
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-10
Cortland, OH
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

1 recommendation

reply to ProtusMose

Kinda reminds me of an old Andy Capp comic strip, where he calls in the repairman to fix his TV. The repairman looks for awhile and just gives the side of the TV a good hard "thump" and the TV is fixed. Andy then says, "You're not going to charge me full price just for 'thumping' my telly, are you?" "Nope", say the repairman, "I'm charging you for knowing where to thump it!"

Hindsight is always 20/20. If you would have known how to fix it, cheaply, you could have fixed it yourself. But since you didn't, you had to pay someone who did! You didn't get cheated... you just paid the price. A price we all pay occasionally... 'til we learn how to do it ourselves. Everything is easy when we watch someone else do the work.

As a skilled tradesman for many years, I took great pride in knowing that a great part of the appreciable wage I earned stemmed, not from the amount of physical work I did, but from having the expertise to perform that work correctly... the first time... every time.
--
I was born at night... but not last night!