Sunday, March 24, 2013

Another Reason for my bad mood! Will it never end?

      I hate home ownership! I used to be so happy when I was renting my little apartment.

      But everyone would bug me and tell me that I was throwing my money away and that home ownership was the way to go.

      I remember taking off on weekends and not worrying about the lawn or weeds or tree trimming or repair and maintenance of coolers, air conditioners and heaters. No buying of filters or weed and kill. Ahhh, life was grand then. 

     But I listened to all those people that told me I was throwing my money away, that I needed to make an investment and buy my own home. So I did...and here I sit, on a Sunday afternoon wondering where I am going to take a shower tomorrow.

Millivolt System Thermo Coupler water heater died. It has an "inoperative Millivolt System Thermo Couple". The man from the gas company said so and told me to call the manufacturer, Whirlpool. So I did and their representative told me she was going to send me an email to do a check and reset and if that doesn't work then to call them back and they would send me the part that is broken, the Thermo Coupler. That little do-hickey pictured here, which is roughly only about $8.00. It may as well be $8,000 because I don't know how to fix this so I will have to call a plumber!

     And in order to check to give them the Mulimeter reading so they know if it is the Thermo Coupler I have to buy a Multimeter reader *sigh*.

      I was so happy having a landlord...



  1. Oh, Alicia, this is too frustrating, I'm sure. Do you have a neighbour who might have that reader? I hope so!

    1. I got really lucky in that my brother stopped by and he had just replaced the thermo thingy in his water heater a couple of weeks ago and he said, "I can fix it" and he did. Thank goodness for little brothers!

  2. What the hell is wrong with you? Dontcha know nothin? That's a thermocouple, not a thermocoupler. What it does is creates a small voltage when the pilot light is on. The pilot light heats a thermocouple junction that creates a small voltage and current flow. That voltage is used by the main gas valve as a safety. No voltage means no pilot light and the main gas valve won't open keeping the gas from flowing when there is no pilot light to ignite it.

    But a better question is why can't your plumber do all this. He may even have the part. I don't see why you should be doing half the plumber's work for him. You might get the part a little cheaper but then you have to buy the stupid meter.

    But assuming you are going to bull through yourself...

    Is the pilot light burning? If not you will not get a voltage out of the thermocouple. Someone you know ought to have a meter that you can borrow. It has to have millivolt DC scale and my guess is that you would read somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 to 70 mv DC. Assuming a type j thermocouple. This is a very low voltage and you won't have to worry about getting shocked. An AA battery has a voltage of 1,500 millivolts. 1 Millivolt is 1/1000 of a volt. Their email should tell you the correct voltage.

    You can buy a meter at Home Depot for $22.

    The scale you would use on this meter is at the bottom just about 6 o'clock
    It is V with some dashes after it and 200m. What that means is that it is in VDC and will read 200 millivolts max. You can start on the 2 scale which would read 2 volts max. On the 200 m scale you should read 50 to 70. Depending on the meter, that may not show up on the 2 scale. If you can see it, it would probably be .050 to .070 on the 2 scale.

    The red lead will connect to the right port (V ohm diode mA uA) the black lead will connect to the center port COM (common). Do NOT connect to the 10 A port. If you get a zero reading try reversing the leads. The meter should read negative voltages but some less sophisticated meters may not read backwards. Just reverse the leads on the contacts on the thermocouple. The email should tell you where to place the leads on the contacts, below that threaded nut.

    Remember the pilot light has to be on. You will only get about .75 to 1.28 mv at room temperature. You may not see that on a cheap meter.

    I have never had one of those go. Usually the water tank just pees all over the floor.

    1. had me rolling on the floor laughing with that "dontcha know nothing"! I don't know nothing or is it I do know nothing. Anyway, my baby brother came by to see my mom and he had just replaced his a couple of weeks ago and he volunteered to remove it, go by a new THERMO COUPLE and replaced it and we are good to go and I took a hot shower! Yay!

      But thank you for your instructions, it's just that I live in a little podunk(?) town about 20 miles from Bakersfield and there was no where to get the meter reader thingy, but he didn't need it so all's well that ends well!

    2. Well I am glad you were spared the horror of the meter reader thingy, not to mention the price of a plumber to install it. Three cheers for the little brother. THERMO COUPLE is still wrong, it is one word--dontchano.

      I can't believe that in taking care of three homes, that I have never had the joy of replacing this device. I know about them generically from work, some of our projects had bundles of TCs on them. It is probably all the mine acid in our water eats through the tank before the TC ever has a chance to go bad.

    3. I think I would rather have to replace the TC than to have acid in my bath water!!! Yikes!

    4. Well it is the price of coal mining. When I was a kid one of the main tributaries of the Allegheny River ran orange with mine acid. They have cleaned it up a lot but as the photo at site below shows they still have a lot to do. Fish have returned to the Allegheny, but the river still has a low pH, acidic. It makes for tasty water though! Our water is hard, but it doesn't strip the hide off you!

      Note the orange embankments.

      When I lived in the Mojave, water was beginning to become an issue. They called it fossil water because it was put down in ancient geological times and not replaced. They were draining the water table at an alarming rate...watering lawns and creating man made lakes for gated golf course communities. That was 40 years ago and the population in that area was probably 20% of what it is now.

      In Pennsylvania now, we have concerns with hydraulic fracturing used in the Marcellus shale natural gas wells.

      Everyone has water problems. Ours might be a little orange, but we have a lot of it!


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