This Little Light Of Mine…

7 Sep

A couple of weeks ago, we had a problem child.

As with any child, it threw a tantrum at a moment when we really needed things to go normally… We had been helping Chris’s sister move all day long – in Georgia’s relentless heat and humidity – and desperately needed showers before meeting with my mom.  But the water would not get warm.  Ugh.

This had just happened the day before and we re-ignited the gas water heater without problems, so you can imagine our surprise when it happened again. Not normal, folks. Not. Normal.

We skipped the shower and called our favorite handywoman, Bear.  (remember when we used her here for the tub?)  And she confirmed what Google was telling me: our thermocouple was the most likely culprit.

Because Bear is so sweet, she described everything I would need to do over the phone.  Except one problem: I am an extremely visual person.  I mean, EXTREMELY.  It’s almost like you’re talking wop-wop to me if I can’t visualize at least a part of you’re saying to me.  I told Bear I would probably wait for Chris to get home from work and would buy a new thermocouple in the meantime.  Again, she said she’d keep her phone close by in case we needed her in the evening.  We really lover her.

Once we had opened everything and unhooked all the other stuff (after turning off the gas, of course… CRUCIAL), this is what we were looking at:

You basically have 3 lines – which are NOT proper names, just using names that make the most sense to me: a gas line (silver), the striker line (orange), and the thermocouple (copper).  The thermocouple, as this website states, basically calls the shots in terms of keeping the gas valve open or closed.  So, we worked to get the thermocouple loosened to insert the new one:

And after nearly biting each other’s heads off and working to loosen this copper piece from the holder for 30 minutes, we raised the white flag and called Bear.  Who happily showed up 30 minutes later. And left another 30 minutes later. She also had to work hard at it to get the old thermocouple loose, which made me feel better.  She was able to get it out eventually and even had some trouble getting the new thermocouple in.

We pieced everything back together and once the gas line was opened back up and the pilot light was lit, we could finally see the light back on through this window (can’t really tell in the picture):

In all reality, if Chris and I weren’t scared of breaking something while trying to wrangle the old thermocouple out, I think we could have gotten it done.  At least we know what to do for next time.  One more experience to add under the belt!

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2 Responses to “This Little Light Of Mine…”

  1. Barbara Putnam September 7, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    i would’ve been extremely scared to even touch the water heater. i have this fear of being shocked. but thermocouple? my translation = hot couple haha! i’ve never heard of that. too bad we don’t have a “bear” nearby in case of home problems. i’m sure mitchell could figure it out but… yeah… have a great wkd!! 🙂

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