Water heater, pilot light

QUESTION: The pilot light on the 40-gallon water heater I bought about three years ago keeps going out. I usually have to relight it after taking a shower, turning on the dishwasher or washing a load of laundry. I had the thermocouple and burner replaced, and I had PG&E come out to make sure there is no gas leak that might cause the safety valve to turn itself off. Since both the utility company and the plumbers agree that I have already replaced the only two parts that go bad and have to be changed when a hot water heater goes on the blink, I called the manufacturer, but they are adamant about not replacing the heater. What can I do? I have spent so much money already on the replacement parts and plumbers’ visits.
Rose Wagner, via email
ANSWER: “It is difficult to properly diagnose your water heater without visiting the site and running some tests,” says Vince McDonald of McDonald Plumbing, Heater and Air Conditioning in Sacramento. The first and most likely component of any gas water heater failure is the thermocouple. Now that you have had it changed, a possible next step is to check the thermostat. Occasionally, the high-limit switch in the thermostat will fail,” he says. This can be hard to diagnose, because shortly after shutting the pilot off, it will usually reset itself. If this turns out to be the problem, you will have to replace the thermostat. However, there are several other possible causes that are equipment as well as installation related,” says McDonald. “If the company you are calling is unable to make the repairs, it may be time to call a new one.”

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