wikiHow to Fix Gas Water Heater After a Flood

Recently, after a heavy rain and rather long power outage I came home to find my basement flooded. With the economy being poor and my own economic situation precarious, I decided to try to fix my water heater and furnace myself. I may write a similar article on the furnace at a later time.

Steps

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    Obviously, after your power is restored, you need to get all water out of the basement. This is usually done with a submersible pump. In my case the pumps started working after power was restored. 3 hours later the basement was mostly free of water.
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    When inspecting the damage remember to turn all gas shut-offs to the off position. This will prevent a leak in the event a control valve is damaged by water.
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    Gather tools. Every water heater is a bit different. In my case i got by with a small adjustable wrench, channel locks, air compressor, blowgun, and rags.
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    Disconnect gas supply line, pilot line, main burner line, and thermocouple from control. Thermocouples come in both right and left thread. Be careful to turn yours in the right direction as excessive tightening can damage the control.
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    Remove burner chamber cover bolts(if required). The burner assembly should now pull out of the chamber.
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    Inspect the burner assembly for damage and corrosion. Replace the entire burner assembly if damaged. Otherwise, clean the burner assembly with rags and blow out all orifices with air hose.
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    Clean the burner chamber thoroughly and ensure that vent screen is free of debris.
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    Replace the burner assembly in the burner chamber ensuring that locating features are aligned and clips are replaced (if applicable). In my case i had to make certain a small 34 inch (1.9 cm) wide tang was inserted securely into a slot. This hold the burner in the center of the chamber.
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    Blow out all ports on the control unit until it is free of water.
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    Reconnect the pilot line, burner line,and thermocouple. (Do Not over-tighten --- brass fittings strip easily)
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    Reconnect gas supply line.
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    Check for gas leaks. Turn gas supply on at valve and spray leak detector on all fittings. If you do not have leak detector use water and dish soap mixed at about 75% 25% respectively. Leaks will present by creating bubbles around fittings.
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    Fix any leaks found in step 12. Usually a good teflon tape sealant does the trick.
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    Light the pilot according to manufacturer instructions. The gas water heater should be ready to go.

Tips

  • clean out the PILOT TUBE and PILOT ORIFICE even after suspecting the thermocouple (copper tube).
  • clean your observation window and use your smartphone camera or mirror for a better view of the pilot light.
  • add a comfortable 3/4" rubber floor mat or rug to work on for this repair.
  • if you already used a digital multimeter to test the disconnected thermocouple for around 20mv when holding down the pilot button and a sparked lit pilot your gas pilot (aluminum tube) may still need disassembly and cleaning (sometimes of an inner inline orifice near the flame tip) to provide the sufficient heat to the thermocouple tip during normal operation of the water heater.
  • note: newer burner assemblies may have an unusual thermocouple with an in-series overheat disconnector.
  • for basic careful cleaning of any of the water heater screens or perforated intakes: use your small shopvac.

Warnings

  • Never service a gas appliance with gas line connected. Always disconnect gas lines before servicing. Clear the work area of any possible ignition sources.

Article Info

Categories: Disaster Preparedness