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GE Water Heater not Working? It’s Probably a Defective Thermocouple

You wake up and head to the shower expecting a hot shower to get your day started – but instead an ice cold blast of water hits you and never warms up. Your gas water heater probably stopped working, and now you’re thinking about how much it might cost to replace it on short notice. But if your gas powered water heater was made by GE, it may have failed due to a defective part that GE has known about for years.

Due in no small part to their cost, GE gas-powered water heaters manufactured by Rheem are some of the most popular water heaters sold in the United States. Sold exclusively through Home Depot, GE gas water heaters are much less expensive than competing brands and electric models. While shopping for your water heater you probably noticed that prices vary not only by the size of the heater, but also by the length of its warranty. Consumers can choose warranties lasting anywhere from two to twelve years depending on how much protection they are willing to purchase. But as many owners of GE-brand water heaters have learned, those expensive warranties mean very little when the thermocouple stops working as intended.

A thermocouple is a sensor used to measure temperature under a wide variety of temperature ranges and conditions. The thermocouple in a gas water heater stands guard over the functioning of the pilot light. It accomplishes this by continually monitoring whether the pilot light is burning and by providing an immediate “fail safe” by shutting down gas supply system when the pilot lights fails to burn. If the thermocouple goes bad, the pilot light might work, but the primary burners will not operate. It could also mean that the pilot cannot function itself, since the thermocouple switches it off automatically because it does not detect any heat. In either case, when a thermocouple goes bad your water heater will stop working.

GE gas water heaters are manufactured with a thermocouple that is likely to fail. And although there are literally hundreds of complaints on the internet about thermocouples failing, GE continues to sell water heaters that contain these defective parts.

Now, you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? I have a warranty!” But GE warranties do not cover labor. So while a replacement thermocouple only runs around $50 (and GE might even send you one for free), you will spend hundreds of dollars hiring a plumber to diagnose the issue and replace the defective part … a part that GE has known to defective for years.

This isn’t the Stone Age — water heaters are an essential part of our everyday lives. And as one of the cheapest and most widely available water heaters on the market, millions of us depend on GE gas water heaters every day. Is it really that much to ask GE to use a more reliable $50 part in a $700 water heater? We think not…

If you or someone you know owns or has owned a GE gas water heater that stopped working due to a defective thermocouple, please contact the class action specialists at Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel to discuss your potential legal claims and hold GE accountable for knowingly costing consumers thousands of dollars in repair costs.