Water Heater Pilot Light Keeps Going Out

Our water heater pilot light keeps going out. My wife called her dad and he said, "Replace the thermocouple." So she replaced the thermocouple. The water heater pilot light still goes out. So we called in a professional. He replaced the thermocouple again. Thanks! That was useful. Why don't I just set a small pile of twenties on fire! The water heater pilot light still goes out. I then did a good hour an a half of googling. Every web page I can find on this problem says "replace the thermocouple". <sigh>
So is there any fix from that does not involve the thermocouple?
For a bit more information, the pilot light seems to go out if the water is warm. I can turn the knob to the pilot position, push the red button down, light the pilot, release the red button and turn the dial to on and it fires up just fine. But if I try to do it again after an hour or so, I turn it to the pilot position, push the red button down, light the pilot, release the red button, and the pilot light goes out.
Matt
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Replace the thermocouple again. If the pilot light still goes out, it must be defective. Replace that.
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Well it's possible the magnet coil in the valve is bad. You say it won't relight after an hour...thats more then enough time for a thermocouple to drop out...
I'm assuming the water heater is conventional vent up a chimney. Have you removed the venting at the wall to see if there is any soot built up at the first elbow? It can impede the flue gases and cause pilot outages.
Has anything changed in your home? Windows, exhaust fans, new furnace?
You may have a serious problem with your venting, I would have a pro look at it.
-CanadianHeat
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Matt, there is a thermal element that interrupts the mv circuit to the pilot solenoid. This thermal element is replaceable but the problem that caused it to fail still lurks. The problem is the thermostat is malfunctioning and over heating the water tank causing the thermal element to open and out goes the pilot. The thermostat is part of the gas valve and replacing it is about as expensive as a new water heater.
Replace your water heater Matt.
New high efficiency power vented water heaters are going for about 5 bills plus installation costs. Dont let the local handyman install it either. If your going to spend the money on good equipment have it installed by a licensed plumber not some half assed handyman type.
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Well, I'm going to involve the thermocouple, but not in the sense of replacing it. Make sure the flame from the pilot solidly impinges on the TC bulb. Many times I've seen the flame near, or slightly touching. Make sure the flame seriously contacts the TC bulb.
What the other fellow said about venting is good. Many new houses are too blooming air tight. Maybe when the furnace gulps for air, it causes a down draft in the W.H. that blows out the pilot. Or a dead bird in the flue, might be suffocating the pilot.
Mail your twenties here. I'll burn substitute effigies for you.
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Christopher A. Young
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I think the thermocouple bulb is pretty darned close to the flame already, I actually tried bending it as close as possible earlier today.
I'll check if the venting looks ok tomorrow. If that looks good I guess I'll just get the whole water heater replaced. A shame since it's only around 4 years old. Doesn't seem like it should have gone bad so fast.
Everyone thanks for your help.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Bending the thermocouple can damage the generator elements inside and distort the pilot burner. It is possible that you have a pin hole leak in the bottom of the heat tubes that allows rapid cooling of the thermocouple. Replace the tank after checking the vent. The thermostat is way to expensive to have professionaly installed. you may have a prorated warranty on the tank and could save 20% if your tank is 4 years old as many warrantys are 5 year length. Good luck johnkelsall
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Change that to "the flame should touch the thermocouple, and wrap slightly around the thermocouple".
Flame "close to" tc isn't gonna do it.
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On Wed, 18 Oct 2006 12:19:05 GMT, "Stormin Mormon"

The tip of the flame will burn it out. The base of teh pilot flame should circle the thermocouple tip. A dull red is MORE THAN hot enough.
--
-john
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote in

What's the make and model?
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Respectfully, Bob

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On 17 Oct 2006 16:52:51 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Umm, did you think to clean the pilot orifice during that thermocouple replacement/bending trick? (Wow, never cease to be amazed by you homemoaners) No, I didnt think so. Bubba
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Bingo! All these techs in here and Bubba comes up with it.
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Inadequate flame. Much similar to the counsell I gave, the flame has to touch the TC, and slightly wrap around it.
You'd think with all the flames on this group, you could just leave the computer next to the water heater.
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On Thu, 19 Oct 2006 12:46:51 GMT, "Stormin Mormon"

Counsell? Bullshit! (and its counsel) You were talking about impingement and all kinds of other crap.You never mentioned that the orifice could be dirty. Hell, you'd be another nut that would start bending the thermocouple, pilot heat, etc. And it could still be a few other things..........like..........maybe it needs a new thermostat and thermocouple@ductbooster. Take your "Counsell" and go bend it around your head. Bubba.
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Maybe yes, maybe no. Some water heaters have spill swiches in line with the pilot stat (ITT). That's why I asked for the make and model. He may have a spillage problem. It may also be a faulty unitrol. It may also be what Bubba suggested. That's why I carry thumb drills! ;-)
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On 17 Oct 2006 16:52:51 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

You'd be better off with a roman candle, since it seems you have a pontius pilate.
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-john
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