We called Sears and they said they'd have a technician out next week. In the meantime, I left the valve on pilot. By this evening, the hot water in the tank was exhausted, so I intended to turn the valve back up and watch it closely to get another tank of hot water.
Instead, the pilot was out. By depressing the valve, I can light the pilot, but even after a couple minutes, the flame will not stay lighted when i release the button.
1) Is there any "trick" to getting the main burner lit temporarily, under manual observation and control? 2) Do you think that the overheat condition has toggled some internal safety in the gas valve? Can it be reset? 3) What might have caused the overheating in the first place? The PT valve never tripped, by the way.