The first symptom of having Richmond water heater gas valve problems is the pilot light not staying lit. But it can also point out many other issues. So, you’ll have to properly diagnose that you have a bad gas valve first.
Don’t worry, this guide will teach you how you can do just that and rule out the other issues like pilot light assembly and thermocouple. We’ll also discuss how you can replace a faulty gas control valve. So, let’s dive right in!
How To Diagnose A Bad Richmond Water Heater Gas Valve Problems [Why + How To Fix]
If your pilot light comes on but doesn’t stay on as soon as you release the pilot button, it points to a bad thermocouple or gas control valve. It’s not likely that there are issues with the pilot supply tube in this case.
That’s because the pilot light won’t have lit up in the first place if there were issues with the gas supply. Nevertheless, check the pilot supply and make sure there’s no dirt and debris in there. Inspect the gas orifice as well and ensure that it’s not clogged.
If these things are fine, the next thing we have to move on to check is the thermocouple. There are many possible issues with the thermocouple that can keep the pilot light from staying lit.
It can be dirty, bent, or damaged. The ideal way to test a thermocouple is to use a multimeter. Remove its connection from the gas control valve and turn on the pilot light and keep holding it for at least a minute. That’ll make sure that the thermocouple has had enough heat to get hot.
Now, set the range of the multimeter to millivolts. Place the positive lead on the copper wire and the negative lead on the silver knob. Now, it’s time to check the results.
If the thermocouple is fine, you’ll get a reading in the range of 20-30 millivolts. It means that nothing is wrong with the thermocouple and you’ll have to inspect the gas valve next.
But if the reading is out of this range, start by visually checking if the thermocouple is bent. If it’s too far from the pilot light, it won’t get as hot as it’s supposed to and it’ll produce fewer millivolts in the multimeter. Adjust its position to fix this issue and try again.
It can also be dirty. In that case, you can clean it with sandpaper and see if that solves the problem. Finally, it can get damaged. You’ll have to replace it in that case. We’ve covered how to replace the thermocouple in detail in our Richmond water heater pilot light won’t stay lit guide. Check it out.
At this point, there’s nothing else but the gas control valve to blame. And if it has gone bad, you’ll have to replace it. But sometimes, you can get away with doing a little trick before you actually need to replace it.
How To Repair A Bad Richmond Gas Valve
This trick will only work if the ECO or the electrical Cut Off has tripped in your Richmond water heater. It can act as a temporary solution before you replace your gas valve.
The thing is that Richmond won’t give you the gas valve immediately after you let them know that you have a bad gas valve. Even if you’re covered by warranty, it’ll take weeks for the gas valve to get to you.
But you still need hot water at the time. And that’s where this trick comes in handy. It works most of the time since the ECO in the recently manufactured Richmond heaters is bad. That’s why so many are facing issues with their gas control valve. Here’s how you can do it:
- Locate the white sensor located on the connection of the thermocouple to the gas valve. It gets in the way of the thermocouple touching the solenoid. This is the faulty part that we’ve been talking about.
- Cut the wires and remove them from the connection to the gas valve.
- Extend the thermocouple so that it directly touches the solenoid. If you’re unable to do that, find a small nail or aluminum pop rivet and put it in place of the sensor.
- Reconnect the thermocouple and make sure it has a good connection.
If the ECO sensor was causing the issue, that’s how you can fix it. Your pilot light should stay lit now. It’s a good solution to have hot water while you’re waiting on the replacement gas valve. But if it doesn’t work, your only option is to replace the gas valve.
Remember that it’s not a permanent fix. Bypassing the thermocouple isn’t a good idea in the long run. The absence of the ECO should make you extra cautious that you don’t set the temperature too high in the water heater. You’ll have to replace the gas valve if you want a long-term solution.
How To Replace A Faulty Richmond Gas Valve
Now that you’ve diagnosed and made sure that you have a bad gas valve, it’s time to replace it. You won’t find it difficult to replace the gas valve as we’ll break it down to easy steps. Here’s how you can do it:
Step 01 – Shut Off The Gas Supply
Shut off the gas valve that’s sending gas to the water heater. It should be located right next to your unit. It’s on when it’s parallel to the pipe. Turn it in a perpendicular direction to turn it off.
If you can’t find it, you’ll have to shut off the main gas valve that supplies gas to your entire house.
Step 02 – Disconnect The Gas Valve Connections
Disconnect the pilot light gas tube, the thermocouple, and the main burner gas tube from the gas control valve. The gas inlet pipe also disconnects with care.
Step 03 – Drain The Tank
Before taking off the gas valve, you need to drain the water heater. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a mess on your hands. The hot water can also cause scalding. Turn off the cold water shutoff valve if you can locate it or shut off the water supply to your entire house.
Then take a garden hose, connect it to the drain output of the tank, and open the drain valve to get rid of the water inside the tank. Also, open the hot water faucets in your home if you want to drain the tank quicker.
Step 04 – Take Out The Old Gas Valve
Once the tank is completely empty, disconnect the hose and close the drain valve. Rotate the gas valve counterclockwise to free it from the unit. But they often get tight and you’ll require an additional tool to do it.
If you can’t do it by hand, you can use a pipe wrench to do it. Once it’s free, you can keep on rotating it by hand until it comes out.
Step 05 – Install The New Gas Valve
Apply teflon tape to the threads of the new gas valve if it already doesn’t have it. Clean the threads inside the tank using a dry towel or piece of cloth to remove the magnesium build-up created by the anode rod.
Start threading the new valve to the new gas tank. You should get at least 2-3 full turns before it gets tight. If not, you may be cross-threaded. In that case, pull it out and start over again.
Connect it with the gas line, the main gas burner tube, the pilot tube, the thermocouple, and the electrical igniter wire.
That’s it. That’s how you can replace the gas valve on your own. Remember that you must fill the tank with water before you turn the gas supply back on. Turn on a hot water faucet and then, turn on the cold water supply.
This is a good time to observe any leaks, especially, around the gas valve area that you just replaced. You’ll hear air coming out of the hot water faucet. When the tank is filled, eventually you’ll notice water coming out of it.
Shut off all the faucets in the house when that happens and turn on the gas supply to the heater. Spray some soapy water on each connection of the feed pipe to check for leaks. If there are leaks, air bubbles will form.
If you notice leaks, you’ll have to shut off the gas supply. At this stage, you can either recheck everything or call in an expert to help you out. Don’t light the unit if there are leaks. But if there are no leaks, you can go on to light the pilot and enjoy warm water from the heater.
How to fix a bad Rheem water heater bad gas valve?
The heaters are made by the same company and they are known to have the same defects in gas valves. Everything suggested here for Richmond heaters also applies to Rheem heaters.
How to reset the Richmond water heater gas valve?
Turn off the gas valve, unplug the heater for a minute, and plug it back in. Then, turn the gas valve on and switch it from the high to the low position 7 times in 30 seconds. That’ll reset it.
How long does it take to replace a bad water heater gas valve?
If you know what you’re doing and you have experience working with heaters, it shouldn’t take you more than half an hour to 45 minutes. But draining the heater takes additional time and make sure you have a clear schedule so that you can work without rushing it.
Why does the pilot light go out when I try to turn the burner on?
It’s common in both Richmond and Rheem water heaters and it points out the false ECO sensor that we talked about it earlier. Take it out and have the thermocouple make direct contact with the solenoid to fix this issue.
What does it cost to replace a bad water heater gas valve?
You’ll get the replacement gas valve for free if you’re covered under warranty and it won’t cost anything. But if you’re not under warranty and you can replace it yourself, the part will cost only $70-$100. But if you hire an expert to do it, the cost can go as high as $700.
Hopefully, now you know exactly what to do if you’re facing Richmond water heater gas valve problems. Remember that this is a common problem in their heaters and you’re not the only one going through it.
Be patient and take your time in diagnosing and fixing the issue properly. Let us know how the gas valve replacement turned out. Comment below if you have any more questions about Richmond water heaters.