Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Whirlpool Water Heater Pilot Won'T Stay Lit

We replaced the thermocouple first b/c it wouldn't light at all but the ignitor was working and gas was working. We were able to then get a flame, but it wouldn't stay lit. So, we then replaced the gas valve. Same results, but much bigger, non-flickering flame. Had heard about so many defective Whirlpool thermcouples that I replaced it again just to be safe. Still the same, hold down the red button, ignited on first click of ignitor...hold down for 1 minutes and then it goes right out.
Anyone know what could be wrong? Please help!
p.s. the water heater is a Whirlpool Flamelock, it is only 2 years old.

People are having so many problems with these that it is scary.
Check the spark arrestor where the air flow goes through; take a mirror and see if it is clogged. This gets clogged up and restricts the proper air flow to keep a flame going, thus causing the flame to go out when not in the pilot lighting phase. Cat hair, normal collection of dust and it doesn't take much to restrict flow. More and more units are misdiagnosed for faulty mechanical parts....when all along it is improper air induction into the sealed burner chamber.

i cleaned the flame arrest inside and outside of unit. i cleaned all pipe/hoses with the air stuff you use for computers.....nothing! my uncle, a plumber who lives too far to help, said from what my husband described the thermocouple does not get into the flame enough. the thermocouple is even with the pilot and about 1 cm away from it. this is the way the unit is designed. looking at it, i think i can make it closer, but which direction...right now it is in front of the pilot, between the pilot and the plate....should it be over the pilot?
please help.

The thermocouple should be pushed up completely until the bracket hits the little flare at the bottom of the thermocouple. Make sure it stays their when reassembling. Also do not over tighten the thermocouple at the gas valve. This can ruin your connection then the gas valve must be replace. If you are in a dirty environment order the external screen from American. This wraps around the heater and is much easier to clean.

The tip of the thermocouple bulb should be in the flame. I have more problems with the alignment of the piezo ignitor than anything else.
I have seen very often on all brands where the water heaters were shipped and vibration allowed the thermocouple to slide downwards out of the bracket; it is only push-fit to begin it is very possible to lose its alignment with the standing pilot flame.
Let us know the result. I actually completely disconnected one of these Whirlpool water heaters and spun the burner assembly to the outside of unit and fired it up to make the adjustments needed since the sealed combustion cover keeps you from doing that otherwise.
Remember, look at the factory tag on this unit...the name CRAFTMASTER will be showing on the tag. One of the most sold.....and cheapest sold water heater that was very popular when HQ, Builder's Square, Central Hardware, and Furrows when they all had their days of glory over the past 20 years.
What is cheap is not always better. Any more time invested beyond another hour and I would consider a different brand, something with quality built into its reputation.

I have a Lowe's Whirlpool water heater. I've experienced the same problems as I've seen described here. My pilot light started going out several times a day. It was not such a big deal, the tank is well insulated so the water would stay warm - I'd just re-light the pilot before going to bed and before going to work. That worked well for about three days, but the problem got progressively worse until it just would not light at all. I replaced the thermocouple with a Honeywell universal thermocouple that I got at Home Depot - that did not solve the problem. I'm very handy, so I decided instead of going through warranty service and having to wait three or four days for replacement parts, I'd buy a new gas valve at Lowes and try that. It cost $54.00 and it worked. By the way, I put the original thermocouple back in and the pilot light stays lit - it was definitely the gas valve and not the thermocouple in my case. It was a real pain to do since I had to drain the tank, but it only took about three hours total. From what I've read, these things last anywhere between six months and two years. That's ridiculous, but at least I have hot water now. If you are reading this because you are considering purchasing a Lowes hot water heater, DON'T!!! I started my search for a replacement gas valve at Home Depot, but they don't stock them. Lowes had 8 on the shelf. That tells you something right there - the water heaters Home Depot stocks don't need to have the gas valves replaced before the tank wears out - there's no demand for the valves so Home Depot doesn't stock them. Lowes probably sells 8 of them a week - all the boxes were shiny and new, not dirty and dusty like some items get when they sit around in home improvement stores.

There is a class action suit against Whirlpool flame lock water heaters. You can get free replacement parts at Whirlpool - Talk To Us - You will have to pay shipping. They will send out enhancement kits with thermo couplers or a new gas valve if necessary.

I have the exact same problem. Replace thermocouple and still pilot light wont stay on. I have an american water heater company Model Number: FG6240T403NO. I have heard of many problems with these heaters, however mine is only three years old. I would rather not spend $500 or $600 dollars on a new water heater right now, so any help would be much appreciated. Are the gas valves universal, or model specific?

get the model and serial number and go to lowes and see if they have the parts for the recall on this heater. i believe it is the burner, thermal couple, and pilot line all together if i remember correctly

The Whirlpool Flame Lock water heater model that starts with FG has a design problem in the Control valve. After a couple days of having to restsrt the heater the unit finally stopped working. I cleaned the unit and changed the thermocoupling and this did not solve the issues. It would light twice and then nothing agian. The Trick was to call Wirlpool and have them overnight a new control valve. Call 1877-817-6750 or Whirlpool Water Heaters They will send a new Control valve if you have tried the above. It's not hard to change the valve, SHUT OFF THE GAS, Drain the heater, disconnect the old, Use teflon tape, replace with the new part, reconnect all wires and pipes, check for gas leaks (use dishsoap and water,) light the heater per instruction on the side. Enjoy hot water agian.

my husband and i are replacing our gas valve. the old one had 2 black and white wires attached to itself but the new one has the wires loose. anybody know wher eto hook the wires to?

I just got home from vacationa to no hot water! Before calling a plumber I researched the issue and discovered this thread. Thanks to several of your posts, I was able to resolve the issue for the cost of some gas to go to Lowes and a couple hours of my time. Being Sunday I didn't expect an answer, but when I called Whirlpool a very helpful Indian fellow answered. I gave him my serial number and name, and explained my problem. He gave me the option of having a conversion kit mailed to me on my dime, or go to Lowes and get it free. I chose to go to Lowes. I gave the clerk the stock number of the kit I needed and ten minutes later I was on the way home with my conversion kit. It was easier to install then I thought it would be and around an hour later, I was back in hot water.
Thanks to all who posted. A plumber on a Sunday would have cost hundreds.

well unfortunately the issue with these water heaters may not be resolved. our water heater died after 15 years of flawless service. we opted for a whirlpool and i installed it 2 days ago. at that time the pilot light came on flawlessly but after the burners kicked in, all flames would die after about2-3 minutes. i checked everything even made sure that the pilot flame was hitting the thermocouple. however i noticed that once the burners kick in, the flame no longer touches the thermocouple.
i placed a call to Whirlpool and they referred me to a local plumber that is supposed to come out and check. they gave me a warranty reference number that the plumbing contractor will bill to so that's cool. the plumber is supposed to call me tomorrow morning because of course all of this is happening after 5pm because i work too. anyways, after reading these (and other posts) it may actually be the gas valve. pretty crappy that it's bad right out of the box. really pi$$es me off because no hot water for 2 nights now!
and to think i transported it upright like like a sore thumb!
we'll see what happens tomorrow.....

Pilot Lights Only While Red Button is Depressed.
Just to add my 2-cents worth, and to thank wallzee, djohn, and others for the Whirlpool/Lowes claim procedure. First, though, it is important to check the thermocouple. A cheap ($3-$4 Harbor Freight) multimeter (DVM) is good enough. Undo the thermocouple nut from the thermostat unit. This allows the small copper tube to be slightly bowed so that the tip can be withdrawn. Set the DVM to measure millivolts and connect one lead to the copper tube and the other on the shiny tip. (Alligator clips help.) Now, following all safety precautions in the manual, again light the pilot. Within about 45-seconds the mV reading should rise substantially above 12 mV. (Mine went to 18.2 mV.) As long as you have your DVM handy, set it to low Ohms and check that the thermal switch is not open. (Oh yes, do not get the part from Sears -- $210 -- vs $54 from Lowes.)
When you call the wallzee Whirlpool number, they will offer to send out a technician. Decline but get a Case # and a Johnson City address to submit your claim. Then go to Lowe's, buy the part, and send in the required info.

If you call the number on the tank (toll free to India) you will be given a code letter and part number. The repair kits are FREE at Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse. I know this for sure, as I just did mine this past Wednesday. Free...No Charge!

Glad you're happy RJ, will you still be happy when something else on your water heater craps out? Most professional plumbers agree that the Whirlpool gas-fired water heater is flawed in its basic design.

Thanks to everybody here I managed to solve the problem with my water heater. I called the number on the tank and they pointed me to Lowes to get the conversion kit (in my case kit B) which I got for free after having to call a few different Lowes stores to track one down. I installed it and sadly had the same problem with the pilot going out as soon as I let go of the button. I called the number again and was sent a valve for $20 next day shipping charge. Received it by early afternoon next day.
I drained the tank and replaced the valve. After installation I continued to have the same problem so I removed the burner assembly again and checked the alignment of the thermocouple and found that it had slipped back about 1/4, apparently that was enough because when I reseated it it stayed lit. Yay!
I guess I'll never know if I really needed the valve or if the thermocouple was the problem all along but it made me realize that everyone who owns these poorly built water heaters should take advantage of the warranty to get themselves both the conversion kit and the valve even if you don't yet need them. This post and others like it suggest that eventually you will and you might as well get them before the warranty expires, I'm in my 5th year of a 6 year warranty so I am glad to have replaced it all and hopefully it will last another 5 years.
One more thing, I noticed as I started it up that there was water dripping on the burner and was worried that it was leaking from the valve but it turned out to only be condensation and it stopped after about half an hour.
Beer 4U2

I also have a Whirlpool Flame Lock Water Heater purchased at Lowes in June 2008. I have been experiencing the same type of problems with the pilot light not staying lit, or the burner won't light after the hot water is drained. While examining the thermostat/gas valve and the manifold assembly, I observed that if the pilot light was lit, I could get the burners to light by vibrating the thermostat housing.
I removed the thermostat housing from the gas valve. After that I removed the printed circuit board from the housing. There are three pinch connectors that make connections between the circuit board and the gas valve. It occured to me that if these connectors weren't making good contact that the gas valves wouldn't operate. That would explain both the pilot light problem and the main burner problem.
Upon closer examination of the circuit board, I found that two of the three pinch connectors were actual loose on the board. Either a cold solder joint or a solder joint that had broken loose.
I re-soldered the connectors, and re-assembled the thermostat and gas valve unit. So far, I haven't had any further problems.

We are having the same issues. For those of you who got a free gas valve was your unit still under warranty? Ours just ran out a few months ago and I would like to know before calling and demanding a new part.

I also have a Whirlpool Flame Lock Water Heater (Model FG1J5040T3NOV) purchased at Lowe's. Guess I've been lucky since it's worked for seven years before giving me trouble. What I did to fix it:
1. Called Lowe's, they said to call Whirlpool, 1-877-817-6750.
2. Called the number (in India). Told the young lady my problem... heater quit, believe the thermocouple is bad. [As suggested by someone earlier, I pulled the manifold/burner assembly out; reconnected everything but with burner end swung to the outside of the tank; tested the pilot light (it lit); but the it wouldn't stay on after holding red knob down 1-2 minutes.]
3. She said my tank wasn't registered in their database (even though I'd mailed the card in to whirlpool back in Jan 2003), and then proceeded to register it.
4. She said that my warranty covers labor for 1 year, and parts for 12 years. And, if I replace the thermocouple and send them the original receipt for the part, they will reimburse me the cost of the part (but, not labor). Just before signing off, she asked me the nature of my call... all I could do was laugh and say MY WATER HEATER QUIT! THATS WHAT I TOLD YOU WHEN WE STARTED THIS CONVERSATION. Geez! Guess it's not her fault, she's just trying to make a living like the rest of us. I blame Whirlpool for their cost-cutting antics!
5. Anyway, I pulled the old thermocouple out of the assembly and took it (and all my original tank purchase paperwork) to the local Lowe's (not the same store that the tank came from). Explained to the Plumbing Tech guy what my problem was, and told him that I understood that there was a recall on this tank and that some sort of retrofit kit was available. He looked up my tank on his recall list and then went and got the kit (BFG Kit - C) for me. This kit contains a complete new manifold assembly, with new thermocouple installed, and a thermal switch that my original doesn't have). I noticed that the thermocouple was a RH-thread as opposed to a LH-thread like my original. He said to use the thread adapter in the kit to connect the new RH-thread thermocouple to my existing LH-thread gas control valve. Note: The adapter also has two electrical connections that go to the thermal switch on the new manifold assembly. Anyway, the kit was free, but I also bought a replacement universal thermocouple ($7.45 + tax) just see if replacing only that would get my tank working again (it did).
6. So, back home, I installed the new universal RH-thread thermocouple in my old manifold assembly using the adapter (converts LH-to-RH threads) that came with the new BFG Kit - C manifold assembly. But, since I wasn't using the thermal switch (attached to the new manifold assembly) I just ran one of the connecting wires that came in the kit between the two connectors on the thermocouple adapter (essentially bypassing this feature which is not original to my tank). And, it worked immediately - I'll be having a hot shower within the next couple of hours!
Note: As someone mentioned earlier... positioning the thermocouple properly so that it sits in the pilot flame is extremely important! Mine (and the one in the kit) actually protrudes about 1/8 past the end of the pilot light tube.
7. I'm keeping the new replacement manifold assembly as a back-up for when the new thermocouple that I just installed goes out. And, even though it's a hassle, I'm sending my receipt for $7.45 to Whirlpool just so I can ding them some more (in addition to the cost of the kit I got free) for what they're putting all of us through. Suggest you do likewise.
Good luck!

I have a Whirlpool hot water tank (FG1F4040S3NOV). I have the frequently mentioned problem with the pilot light not staying lit - after I release the pilot gas reset button.
I just called the 877-817-6750 Whirlpool warranty number, and am going to have shipped to me a replacement 'kit' (which I think includes the new thermocouple, converter, and manifold face plate).
I had 2 questions that I hope someone here could answer.
1) I have the pilot/thermocouple/burner unit out of the water tank. How can I test the thermocouple so that I can be absolutely sure the problem is the thermocouple, and not the gas valve?
2) Since I have to wait until Wednesday, or even Thursday, for the kit to arrive (it's Monday today) - I was wondering if I could try and fire up the main burner just long enough to heat the water tank tomorrow (for a shower and to do the dishes). I was thinking that I could just manually light the main burner with a long match, that I'd insert through the 'peep' hole, after removing the glass cover? Would this be safe to do?

I'm no expert on this, but I think the main burner will not light without the thermocouple doing its job properly (i.e., sending a signal to the gas valve that there is a pilot flame available for burner ignition); and I'd recommend against trying to bypass the safety features... a hot shower isn't worth a possible explosion. You might try getting a (properly threaded) thermocouple and installing it now, they're usually less than $10. And it should take only about an hour to install it (much less if you've done it before); mine came with fairly decent instructions.
A couple things to check on the existing thermocouple (and the new one): make sure the thermocouple connection is tight at the gas valve; make sure the thermocouple tip is all the way in the pilot flame.

I'v tested the thermocouple on my bench, and need help understanding the results:
- I put a multimeter on the aluminum tip and on the TC line near the pilot flame site. I heated the TC for 2 minutes, and did not get any milliamps reading on my voltmeter, which was set at 200mA DC (Is is DC, right?) I thinks that is saying the TC is not sending any power to the Valve to tell the valve the pilot is staying lit?
- I then set my meter to the 20 Ohms scale and tested again. This time with the TC hot from previous 2 minutes of heating the meter read 0.0 Ohms. After the TC cooled down for 5 minutes, the meter read 0.3 Ohms. So I interpret this as when the TC is heated it has 0 ohms resistance - which is impossible for any metal to be that low? So the TC is bad.
- But why would it show 0.3 Ohms resistance when the TC is cold? That indicates a small amount of resistance, which might mean the TC is ok?
PS: How do you edit an existing post to update it?

hi 42ford,
I can't locate a TC locally that has the 'left handed thread'. I've tried plumbing supply's and ACE, and HD and Lowes. No luck. I guess I'll have to wait until tomorrow for the hot shower.
I was just thinking that burner in the hot water tank was like a stove top burner, except the tank has the pilot flame. So, light teh tanks burner once, I'd get a tankful of how water, and it would shut itself off. I just was unsure if I also needed the signal on the TC lead to allow the main gas burner to open up? I would assume so, but I'm no electrician/plumber.
Thanks for your reply.

One more question...Has anyone considered pulling the left hand thread nut off the existing thermocouple, and using it to replace the right hand threaded nut on a new thermocouple?
The old TC could be cut to get the LH thread off easily enough.
And it looks as if the aluminum? tip is clamped on to the copper TC line, and maybe could be pried off and then back on a new TC line? If the tip cannot be wrenched off, could the new TC line be cut, the nuts exchanged, and then the line soldered back together?

I received the 'kit'. I am going to go install it in the next hour. I hope it works.
I have a bit of doubt however, I test the old and new Thermocouple(TC) with the multimeter, and the old one hit around 22Mv faster than the new one did (in about 1 minute)! I heated the tip of the TC by applying a flame from a BBQ lighter. They both ohmed at around 0.3ohms!
I have been tricked by mulitmeter tests, in the past, into thinking something was good, and found after buying a new part that the old one was indeed bad (even though it tested good) - for example a coil pack on my car.
I don't want to have to order a valve, and wait for that to be shipped, before I can get hot water again!

So I installed the upgrade 'kit' with the new thermocouple, and so far so good, the pilot stays lit, and I have hot water.
I was surprised how far I had to screw the pilot line into the thermostat/valve.
I still do not understand how I could get about the same voltage and ohm readings on both the old and the new thermocouple, and one works and the other does not?

Looks like I'm in the Whirlpool Flame-Lock Haters Club.
We replaced one thermocouple on our 2 year-old unit and six months later the replacement went out, too.
I'm gonna check the possibility of a clog or debris first as we had a simultaneous failure in our gas meter and just got that replaced. I'm curious if it's the first time the dang thing has been off since being installed.

RE: Use old LH nut on universal TC:
This might work: [URL=] (read the whole thread)

Whirlpool Flame Lock water heaters, reviews, troubleshooting, repair and support. - Terry Love's Plumbing Remodel DIY forum
Not meaning to disrupt things by bringing in another website... I got a free replacement kit (had to check with three different Lowes to get one).
Having the same major hitch with this one as with the last replacement... You have to re-use a small brass nipple from the old burner and screw it into the new one.
It's brass.... very soft brass. ... and it tends to get welded into the old burner.
I trashed the old one the first time I went through this and had to spend two more days tracking down a replacement piece.
Back to the link at the top of my post.... The replacement kit has a Reset switch. I didn't know that until AFTER I had removed the old burner... Sure enough, the reset switch needed to be - um - reset.
I'm going to try re-installing the old unit and I'll go on search of a new nipple. ... It could be difficult... I live in Indy-nipple-less, Indiana .... ahem. ... sorry about that.
I'm also leaving the window out this time. I'll cover the hole AFTER I've re-installed everything, if nothing else I'll be bringing out the old match-on-a-stick tool.

Okay. Disregard the crap about using the old stuff but with the window broke out.
When I tried to put the old unit back in I discovered that the ingenious Pilot tube attachments don't work well the second time around.
A thorough search through a lot of old sockets found one that fit perfectly and snugly on the old nipple... It came off with some steady pressure.
The cover was a bear as it was not curved to fit the tank properly but I used a bit of coat hanger to line up the holes.
I got the thing to light on the second try and will see if I have hot water soon.
I will NOT ever buy another Whirlpool water heater.

12 hours after replacement and I've still got hot water and pilot light... I'll keep hoping .... and saving up for a new water heater. ....... it will NOT be a Whirlpool product.

I also got the free replacement kit, but all I had to do was call that 1-877 number, and give them the serial number of my unit.
I had the same problems as you, it was tough to get the new manifold cover to line up on the tank. Also had a little difficulty getting the burners brass 'orifice' removed from the old burner assembly and reinstalled on the new burner assembly. I kept thinking to myself - what would if have cost Whirlpool to include that orifice on the replacement kit - 0.25 cents!
But the new kit is working well so far, 5 days. Good to have hot water again.

Thank you for that link.
I wanted to look at the picture of that modified thermocouple, but could not see them without registering, and the site won't let me register. The site says ever user name I try and pick to use is already in use! Not possible as after several attempts picking really unique user names that were all rejected!
Are you registered there?
If so, would you contact the admins, and ask them to write to me at *****about registering?

Originally Posted by mnalep
Thank you for that link.
I wanted to look at the picture of that modified thermocouple, but could not see them without registering, and the site won't let me register. The site says ever user name I try and pick to use is already in use! Not possible as after several attempts picking really unique user names that were all rejected!
Are you registered there?
If so, would you contact the admins, and ask them to write to me at ******about registering?
You may have just hit a bump in the internet highway. Try again during the week when the site's traffic may be less.
That thread was wtarted several years ago and has been a handy source ... of more frustration... The posters on that thread had been following the history of foul-ups with the Whirlpool FlameLock design and it is amazing. The class action suits have come and gone and more are in the works.
What further amazes me is that Whirlpool and Lowes continue to peddle the product. Wen I went into the Lowes for the most recent replacement kit I saw the units still on sale on the racks.
A reminder to folks: You have to specifically request the Recall Replacement Kit for your system. Take in your model and serial number. If they try to sell you anything you must keep demanding the RECALL REPLACEMENT KIT. If they insist they do not have it then demand they contact other stores. Keep on them, several of the employees do not know of this recall and will try to sell you a new $7-$25 thermocouple. The entire kit comes in a box that will be marked Not for resale. It includes a new door plate, miscellaneous gas lines attached to the door plate and new wires and the new thermocouple adapter.

Originally Posted by Torry
12 hours after replacement and I've still got hot water and pilot light... I'll keep hoping .... and saving up for a new water heater. ....... it will NOT be a Whirlpool product.
The Whirlpool Corporation does NOT build these water heaters for Lowes! The heaters are built by the American Water Heater Division of the A.O. Smith Company, one of the country's major water heater manufacturers. Lowe's pays to use the Whirlpool name for its private label line of water heaters, just as Home Depot pays to use the GE name on Rheem-manufactured water heaters. Do not confuse Whirlpool branded water heaters from Lowe's with the appliances manufactured by the Whirlpool Corporation. Two entirely different manufacturers.

Originally Posted by mnalep
Thank you for that link.
I wanted to look at the picture of that modified thermocouple, but could not see them without registering, and the site won't let me register. The site says ever user name I try and pick to use is already in use! Not possible as after several attempts picking really unique user names that were all rejected!
Are you registered there?
If so, would you contact the admins, and ask them to write to me at ******about registering?
When I just now tried to register in order to see the pictures, I had the same problem as you. Since I already had a replacement kit, I hadn't bothered earlier to try to see the pictures.

I am having the same problem with my water heater pilot lighting but not staying lit. I replaced the thermocouple with a universal one, but still same result. Tried to adjust it so it was closer to the flame but still same result. Called the 800 number but since we are not the original purchasers of the water heater, previous homeowner installed it, that there is no warranty. So my question is what parts do i need to get to get it working again?
Update- went to lowes got replacement kit G for the water heater, looks like it was set up for natural gas, and i use propane, so i am missing the burner assembly for the replacement kit cause looking at the instructions u are suppose to use the original burner which i don't have. What can i do?

you must have the original burner in the tank, if you put the replacement thermocouple in before you got the kit?
If not, what happened to the original burner? I would look for another propane burner at an appliance parts place.
Have you made any progress?
PS: Mine is still working well, from the Jan 6 install date, to today - 14 days.

Still running here. I'm having trouble securing another Recall Replacement Kit from Lowes. I may have to call and have one sent ... too bad for them.

Tags: whirlpool, water, heater, pilot, stay, pilot light, water heater, water heaters, manifold assembly, pilot flame, burner assembly, Home Depot, main burner, same problem