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Water heater operation

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Hi everyone,


Today I taked off my water heater - I needed to re-seal it and check for water leaking. So I discovered that I have no idea how it's working - sorry for my ignorance.🙂 

I saw that control knob have 3 position, on, off and pilot. What for is pilot position?


Also near knob I have some very helpful information that seems to be very useful for the people who understand what it's means 😉. How do I know "if circuit is open" and what " replace control" means?



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Thats an old style water heater. It has a standing pilot light flame. There is a safety thermocouple that shuts off the gas if the pilot flame goes out.

So to light things up. You turn the knob to pilot and light the pilot. HOLD the knob to pilot until the thermocouple gets hot (maybe a minute). Then turn the knob to on. 

If the thermocouple is hot and working the main burner will light and heat the water. When the water reaches the correct temp the main burner will shut down. The pilot light stays on and when the water is colder the main burner lights and the cycle continues.

1. The knob may be spring loaded when you turn it to pilot.

2. Thermocouple is a mechanical thing and failure is not uncommon. A replacement is like $40 for the complete assembly  and $10 for a universal unit.

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Thank you WME.

What is the function of this little thing?:



Also what it's your personal opinion about the viability of this old water heater? I found that some near me sell for 400$ a Dometic water heater electric and propane, 3 maybe 4 years old. But I found that it's have to much wires 😃, so moore chances that something will break. What do you think?Screenshot_2023-01-07-07-38-31-354_com.facebook.katana.jpg.8fa4afdb1e410ba2e3af1f042e1a4d82.jpg

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Chiming in cause I have same unit… the little lever on top is the temp setting: to the right should be colder and left hotter. I’d set it roughly in the middle and then experiment with the best setting for your needs (like any gas WH). 

In terms of viability, we still use our original unit almost every time we camp, for washing dishes and showers. The important parts, main control valve, thermocouple, and pilot assembly are still available, I believe. The BIG question is: do you have a leaky tank? If so, junk the whole thing and buy replacement! Otherwise, the unit could probably be refurbished. 


Edited by Ctgriffi
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Good, that I will check if there are no leaks. Visual the tank are ok, but I think to plug an air compressor to it - to be sure.

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