I have a reliance model 5 30 NORS971 gas HOT WATER tank. The basement flooded a little and put out the pilot. When it would not light, I replaced the pilot tip and went ahead and replaced the thermocouple. All went well and it lit and fired the burner.

One week later, the pilot would light but go out when button released. Replaced the gas control with one from another tank and it worked for about a week. The pressure relief was then leaking a little so replaced it.

One more week and not working so bought new gas control and replaced and all lit.

Now 2 weeks later, not working and pilot will light but, goes out on release. used multimeter and get 20 mv on thermocouple.

What would be cause of gas controls burning out?

3 Answers 3


Here are a few things to consider, from a Reliance water heater Installation Instructions and Use & Care Guide.

Safety Shut-off
This water heater is designed to automatically shut-off in the event of the following:

  1. The pilot flame is extinguished for any reason.
  2. The water temperature exceeds 195°F (91°C).
  3. Excessive build up of dust on the base ring filter or flame arrestor. See Maintenance of your Water Heater Section.
  4. The ignition of flammable vapors.

A thermocouple is used to determine if a pilot flame is present, and will shut off the gas supply to the main burner and the pilot if the flame is absent. This unit is also equipped with a thermal switch, designed to shut off the gas supply in the event the water heater has been exposed to flammable vapors (e.g., spilled gasoline), poor combustion caused by a blocked vent or insufficient combustion air. If the thermal switch opens:

  1. Check the flame-arrestor for signs of high temperature (blue or black discoloration). See Figure 29.

    enter image description here
    Click for larger view

  2. If there are signs of high temperature, inspect your installation for any problems with venting, combustion air supply and for a flammable vapor event (see "Pilot Light Troubleshooting Flow Chart" section). Correct any issues prior to resetting the thermal switch. If you suspect a flammable vapor incident has occurred, do not use this appliance. Immediately call a qualified technician to inspect the appliance. Water heaters subjected to a flammable vapors ignition will require replacement of the entire water heater.

  3. Reset the thermal switch by depressing the small button in the center of the thermal switch. Follow the Lighting Instructions found on the front of your water heater

A high temperature limit switch or ECO (Energy Cut Off) in the tank is used to shut off the unit if the water temperature exceeds 195°F (91°C). The ECO is a single-use switch, which, if activated, requires complete replacement of the entire gas control valve/thermostat. If the ECO should activate, the water heater cannot be used until the gas control valve/thermostat is replaced by a qualified technician. Contact your local dealer for service information.

Also make sure you check and clean the base-ring filter.

External Inspection & Cleaning of the Base-Ring Filter

  1. At least annually check the base-ring filter (Figure 29) for any dust or debris that may have accumulated on the filter screen. NOTE: If the water heater is located in an area that is subjected to lint and dirt, it may be necessary to check the base-ring filter more frequently.
  2. Follow the Lighting Instructions to turn off the water heater and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before attempting to clean the base-ring filter.
  3. Use a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment to remove any dust or debris that may have accumulated on the filter. NOTE: If unable to inspect or clean the base-ring filter, follow the “Cleaning the Combustion Chamber and Flame-arrestor” instructions.
  4. After the base-ring filter has been cleaned, follow the Lighting Instructions to return the water heater to service.

The guide also has a pretty good troubleshooting section.

Click for larger View

Make sure the unit has plenty of combustion air. Often after a flood in the basement, folks tend to shuffle things around. If things are stacked too closely to the appliances, the combustion air to appliances can be restricted.


A thermocouple makes 30 mv power by a temperature differential across the tip of the thermocouple which contains 2 dissimilar metals. If the entire tip is hot,there is no temperature differential thus no power made or not enough power will be made.A thousand millivolts = 1 volt,so a thermocouple's 30 mv is about 1/33 of 1 volt,a AA battery has 1.5 volts which is 1,500 mv,as you can see the amount of power made is very small, consequently it does not take much to affect the ability to maintain the pilot light. Many think that putting the entire tip of the thermocouple into the pilot flame makes more power, exactly the opposite will happen. A temperature differential must exist across the tip, in other words the base will be a cold junction and the tip a hot junction and this will create a tiny bit of power (30mv), If the entire tip is hot no power or insufficient power will be made to power the tiny electromagnet in the gas valve that holds open the pilot valve after we have depressed it's button and lit it then held it closed for a minute or so.


90% of the time the thermocouple is bad.bad gas valve or negative air pressure.

  • 1
    How would you diagnose/solve these problems?
    – Tester101
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 10:56

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