How To Replace The Gas Burner On A Water Heater That Isn't Heating

Posted on: 3 May 2016

Do you have a gas water heater that has completely stopped heating the water? First, check to make sure that the unit is plugged in, the pilot light is lit, and the thermostat is set correctly. If those aspects check out okay, the problem could be a broken or malfunctioning gas burner.

Removing and replacing the gas burner is simple with a few basic tools.

What You Need:

  • Screwdriver
  • Socket wrench
  • Wrench
  • New burner assembly

Step 1: Remove the Old Burner

Unplug the water heater's power cord. Shut off the gas supply to the heater using the shut-off valve on the supply line.

Remove the burner access cover. You might need to unscrew fasteners to remove the cover or it could pull straight off with no fasteners involved. Use a socket wrench to remove the mounting nuts on each end of the burner cover. Put the nuts up somewhere safe so you don't lose these small pieces.

Locate the control valve located above the burner assembly. Use a small wrench to unthread the nut connecting the valve and its attached burner tube. Locate the wires plugged into the underside of the valve, then unplug the wires.

Look down at the tank base in the area that was opened up when you removed the cover. Locate the vapor sensor that has a bracket that fits down over the edge of the tank base. Pull up on the bracket to pull the sensor and bracket free of the water heater.

Grab hold of the front of the burner assembly cover and pull the assembly out of the water heater. Note that the burner is fairly long, so you want to pull straight out until the full assembly has cleared the walls of the tank. Place the burner assembly on the table or flat floor for easy working.

Step 2: Install the New Burner

Pull the new burner assembly out of its package. Note that the assembly includes the burner, burner cover, burner tube, and burner wires. Prepare the assembly for installation by pressing the tube into place then tightening its gasket with a wrench.

Use pliers to remove the vapor sensor and its attached bracket from the wires on the old burner assembly. Attach the vapor sensor to the wires on the new burner assembly by snapping the appropriate wires into place on the sensor body.

Hold the assembly with the burner pointing away from you and the assembly facing right-side up. Carefully insert the burner into the water heater using the tracks inside the heater as a guide.

Step 3: Put the Furnace Back Together

Attach the mounting nuts to the burner cover to secure the assembly into place. Remove the twist-tie bundling the wires for the new assembly. Plug the wires into the appropriate terminals on the bottom of the control valve. Snap the vapor sensor bracket over the edge of the tank base.

Push the burner tube back into its hole on the control valve. Twist the nut into place and tighten with wrench if necessary. Use the twist tie to bundle the burner wires back together for neater working next time. Replace the access cover over the burner assembly and connect the fasteners, if needed.

Plug the water heater back into the electrical outlet and turn the shut-off valve on to restore the gas supply. Run the water heater and see if the problem is fixed. If not, call in a plumber like one from Dependable Plumbing for further diagnostics.

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