Home Improvement Questions? Ask a Handyman for Answers
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The thermocouple is often the reason that the pilot light does not remain lit. Click here for information on how to change the thermocouple. Once the pilot light is staying lit, I would bet the problem will be solved. Many people fail to flush the water heater. This can keep it from heating the water efficiently. The video below shows how to flush the water heater.
Click here if you can not view the video.
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If the pilot is staying lit, I would suggest that the tank and the burner should be checked. If the burner has a buildup on it cleaning is recommended. If the bottom of the tank or burner has any rust or the presents of dampness or water, a leaking tank can be the reason that the flame is not staying lit. If the problem is the gas valve, replacement of the valve will often cost very close to what a new water heater will cost. I believe the water heater comes with a 2 year warrenty on the parts and to have the parts covered would require that you be the original purchaser and have proof of purchase.
If there was water present in the pan, sorry to say this is a very good indication that the water heater's tank is leaking. If that is found to be the case, replacement of the water heater is the only option. If you look at the information provided in the link, it shows how to remove the burner. Once the burner is removed it can be cleaned with a wire brush. Removal of the burner will also allow a flashlight to light up the burner area inside the water heater. Any dampness present will indicate a leak. Rust is also a good indication that there is or has been a leak. Scrub this area with a wire brush, paying attention to the bottom of the tank. Replace the water heater is any moisture is found inside the burner area.