How To Clean A Thermocouple On Water Heater (5 Easy Steps)

There are many parts to a water heater, and some integral ones that hold it together, and help it function properly. One such part is a thermocouple. This safety feature keeps your water heater safe and sound in case of any gas leakage in your gas water heater. As such, you’ll want to make sure it is in good shape. This includes making sure you have clean it thoroughly, and to help you out, we’re writing this in-depth article on how to clean thermocouple on your water heater.

Cleaning the Thermocouple

Since this is an integral part in the entire mechanism of a water heater, you’ll have to make sure it isn’t ruined in the process. For that reason, we’ll write down a simple and easy to follow five step process, which will ensure you clean the thermocouple with ease, and also maintain the lifespan of your gas powered water heater. 

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, you’ll need to remember three necessary components to ensure that you can do all the work properly. These are:

  • Wrench (preferably adjustable)
  • Sandpaper
  • Lint free cloth

Here’s the steps!

Shutting Down Power

No matter what appliance you’re working with, it is always mandatory to first shut it down. If it is electric, shut down the electric power supply. For water heaters with thermocouples, you’ll need to shut down the gas supply, which comes in from the gas inlet valve. Fixing a safety feature also requires you to maintain safety for yourself!

Disassembling the Burner Assembly

Grab that wrench we mentioned about previously! Then remove the burner assembly from its place in the control center. You will find it attached with some tubes, one of them is the thermocouple. Disconnecting these lines will allow you to smoothly slide the burner assembly out of its place.

A good practice when carrying out this procedure is to ensure you know where everything is placed before you take it apart. To do so, simply take a picture of everything and you’ll save yourself the mind numbing task of figuring it all out afterwards.

Thermocouple Cleaning

Once you’ve managed to get the burner assembly out, you can go on to cleaning the thermocouple. For this, use the sandpaper we mentioned, to sand the ends of the pipe. Once you’re done, make sure to use the cloth and give it a proper rub to finish it off.

On the off chance that you have to actually detach the thermocouple from the burner, it is best you also take a picture of how it is connected, in order to be certain of where everything goes once you are done cleaning it.

Since you have already taken the machine apart, why not kill two birds with one stone? As you’ve already taken the burner assembly out, make sure to give that a cleaning as well. You will be able to get rid of any debris in the machine, and ensure the whole mechanism works flawlessly after you put it back.

Reconnecting the Burner Assembly

Now comes the part where you put it all back. If you had taken a picture beforehand, your job is now ten times easier. Just look at the picture, and put everything back the way it was. Make sure you have everything tightened properly and in place, otherwise you’ll be creating much larger problems for yourself, and the water heater.

Lighting it up

Now comes the part where you check for the fruits of your labor. After you’ve put it all back, reopen the gas valve, and light it up. If everything is done right, you’ll be able to see the water heater go back to the way it was, if not better!


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

A: You’ll know that the thermocouple on your water heater has gone bad, if the pilot light goes out. To be specific, if the pilot light goes out within 60 seconds of letting the button go, that means the thermocouple is not working properly.

How do you reset the thermocouple on a water heater?

A: You can find the thermal switch of the water heater, on its manifold door. Pressing the small button on the middle will allow for you to reset the thermocouple. There’s also ways for you to completely reset your water heater, if needed.

What causes a thermocouple to go bad?

A: If a thermocouple goes bad, you’ll notice it get brittle and become more prone to breaking. This is caused by an influx of oxygen in the pipe, which is bad for the pipes in a water heater.

The Takeaway

A thermocouple going bad in your water heater is a problem that isn’t out of the ordinary. You’ll find many other common problems that happen to water heaters, which are quite easy to solve if you know what to do. Hopefully this article has taught you how to deal with bad thermocouples with ease, so that you can be prepared when it happens next!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *