Where to find model numbers for replacement parts

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by NFLMVP, Mar 4, 2021.

  1. NFLMVP

    NFLMVP New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2021
    Location:
    WI
    I've got two 11 year old Whirlpool Natural Gas water heaters that have both started exhibiting the same problem within a couple of months of each other.

    The pilot lights have been going out. When I relight them, there's some orange in the flame. One of these units has stayed lit, after resetting it but the other seems to be going out, every other day. I've got limited troubleshooting capabilities but I assume I should be looking at a cleaning at the very least and possibly a replacement of the thermopile and maybe even the pilot.

    I have the model number, serial number and product number for both units but I have not been able to verify that the parts I'm looking at are compatible.

    Can someone direct me to a resource were I can check compatibility?

    Whirlpool 50 gallon Model # N5OT61-403 Serial # 1114T459519 Product # 0733318
    Whirlpool 40 gallon Model # N40T61-343 Serial # 1123T452063 Product # 0733317

    In the meantime, am I on the right path? Should I be considering more of a "repair kit" than just these couple of parts? Am I not finding compatibility because these are generally universal?

    Any advice would be appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2021
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

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    Occupation:
    Plumber
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2021
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  4. NFLMVP

    NFLMVP New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2021
    Location:
    WI
    Understood. I have leak trays under each of these units, with overflow piped directly into the floor drain.

    Not in a position to replace either one at this point but I can afford to repair them myself if I can verify the parts compatibility.

    In the meantime, I just realized that the gas control valve would be telling me if the thermopile was bad. I've adjusted my thinking to the Thermal Switch....maybe? I found some full burner assemblies online, including the parts numbers but I think that's overkill, unless I have no other way to replace the thermal switch.

    Thoughts?
     
  5. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Remove the thermocouple to clean the connection to the gas valve. A pencil eraser will usually work great.

    Disconnect and remove the pilot burner and supply tube. In one end of the tube will be a flow restrictor with a very small orifice that maybe partially blocked. A short length of fine wire (from wire brush?) may be pushed through to dislodge any debris followed by a blast of compressed air or suction from a vacuum cleaner.

    Wash out the pilot burner of accumulated dust and blast with air to dry afterward. Once reassembled, determine if the pilot will burn cleaner and more reliably.
     
  6. NFLMVP

    NFLMVP New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2021
    Location:
    WI
    After removing the burner assembly, I discovered that one of the burners was pretty rust covered but the other looked much better. I cleaned them both up, put them back in and both units are operational. Both pilots and thermopiles were coated in white residue so I cleaned them up as well. I'm not sure that any of this will actually solve my problem permanently and after looking at the two burner assemblies, I think I am going to replace them, anyway. So far, my total repair cost is zero and after replacement of both burner assemblies, it looks like I will likely end up with a total repair cost of under $200 for the pair. Even if I only get a couple of more years out of these units, it will have been well worth my time. The peace of mind of replacing those burner units will be worth it in the long run, assuming no other issues develop.

    @Bannerman, I stripped a twist-tie for my wire and it worked out well. It doesn't appear as if there's any blockage and the pilots both look better to me. Thanks for the info.
     
  7. dj2

    dj2 In the Trades

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2013
    Location:
    California
    Try it.
    I wouldn't spend the money on 11 year old WHs.
     
  8. NFLMVP

    NFLMVP New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2021
    Location:
    WI
    It's a cost to benefit thing and since the cost is low and the potential benefits high, it's very low risk.

    File this under: Use it twice and it's half the price.

    If the cost of one of these units, plus installation was $1000 in 201o, our annual cost of ownership is under $100. For $100 apiece, all I need is to get another year out of them for a break even proposition. Anything beyond that is gravy. Assuming the tanks don't begin to fail, there's the potential that this ends up being the equivalent of a windfall with many years of reliable use, all for far less than the cost of new.

    Assessment: Totally worth the effort. Minimum cost for two equivalent water heaters, today......$1800. $200 vs $1800. I'll take that gamble, every time.
     
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