water heater pilot keeps going out


  #1  
Old 06-20-02, 12:29 AM
chuck911
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water heater pilot keeps going out

I guess what I want to know if it's time to get a new heater. I've had to re-light the pilot 3 times in the past 10 days. No, it hasn't been all that windy and I have the heater in a heater shack. I've had the heater about 10 years. Is this a sign of old age? I thought maybe I should crank up the pilot a bit but I don't see such an adjustment. Would appreciate any suggestions before I go get a new one. Thx!

Chuck
 
  #2  
Old 06-20-02, 04:54 AM
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Hello Chuck. Welcome to my Gas Appliances forum and our Do-It-Yourself Web Site.

Pilot outage can be caused by several possiblities. The most likely is a wornout thermocouple. Replacing it should resolve the problem.

Do not raise the pilot flame. A too large pilot flame does more harm then good. It puts the thermocouples tip too far into the pilot flame and the thermocouples tip will then not be as hot as it should be. It should glow a bright cherry red color.

Since I have not posted the instructions on how to accomplish the task of replacing a thermocouple recently, below is a copy.

A thermocouple is the part the pilot flame touchs and keeps hot. The end containing the element bulb is inside the water heaters firebox. Be sure the control knob is turn off prior to removing the two covers to access the inside of the firebox.

Follow the very thin tube outwards until you locate where it is connected. It will be screwed into the bottom of the main control valve. This location is usually just to the left side of the larger diameter center aluminum burner gas tube.

On some water heaters the burner assembly must be completely removed from the inside of the burner compartment to remove the element end of the thermocouple from it's holding assembly.

The end of the thermocouple has a male threaded end. This end must be carefully unscrewed out of the control housing using a small open ended wrench.

A thermocouple is generic except for it's length. Thermocouples are made in different lengths. Measure the removed part or take the one you remove to any hardware store and replace it with an exact duplicate in length. The parts cost is very nominal.

New thermocouple packages will contain complete do-it-yourself installation instructions and pictures. The package also contains additional clips of various assortments.

Not all the parts contained in the package with the thermocouple will be needed. The packages contain an assortment of holding parts and clips that are generic and designed to fit a wide variety of water heaters applications.

Once you have installed the replacement thermocouple, turn the control to the 'PILOT' position. Relite the pilot in the normal manner. Replace the inner fireboxes metal cover.

Next rotate the control knob to the 'ON" position. The burner flames should lite up and resume heating the tanks water to the preset desired thermostats temperature.

If the burner doesn't light up immediately, the water in the tank may already be hot enough. To verify this, rotate the temperature knob to a higher setting to test it. The burner flames should now lite up and resume heating the tanks water.

If you had to remove the entire burner assembly, soap test the two tubing nut fittings to the right of the thermocouple fitting while the burner is ON. If there are any leaks, tighten the hex head fittings carefully and as needed, to stop any visable leaks, as indicated by the soap bubbles.

HINTS & TIPS:
DO NOT use any pipe tape on any of the hex head nut fittings.
DO NOT use a wrench to start the male tubing nuts or the threaded end of the thermocouple.
HAND start the threads to avoid cross threading and damaging the threads. Once your sure the threads are correctly prestarted and tightened as much as possible using fingers only, use a wrench to further tighten the nut but do it carefully. DO NOT overtighten the nuts. Just firmly secured.

Disclaimer:
The information above is offered to provide basic information and instructional procedures only.
Methods and procedures apply only to tank type water heaters.

Results and methods may vary. Always read your owners manual and closely follow the advice and procedures given in the manufacturers booklet, owners manual or on the labels attached to the tank and or parts packages. Always follow all safety warnings!

Suggestions:
Read the manufacturers online web site for product information, problem possibilities, causes and solving methods, part locations, disassembly, reassembly methods, repair proceedures and instructions, pictorials and schematics, which may be available online.

An excellent source for orginal replacement parts is your local retail appliance parts store. Appliance parts dealers test and carry replacement parts for all appliances. Parts dealers are listed in the phone book under appliances.

Retail parts dealers can also help determine what the possible problem may be. Bring the make, model and serial numbers if you stop in at the store. The info will help to determine the exact parts used in the model assembly line run and possible problem causes.

Regards & Good Luck
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  #3  
Old 06-21-02, 03:32 PM
chuck911
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water heater pilot

Hi Tom,

Thanks for the very comprehensive analysis/tip. I'll try replacing the thermocouple and see what happens.
 
  #4  
Old 06-30-02, 10:58 AM
olalde2000
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Drop out test

Odds are it is the thermocouple. But.. test it.

Using a watch with a second hand, blow out the pilot and test how long it takes for the valve to close.... (you will hear it close)

If it closes in less than 60 seconds, you have a weak milivolt system - put in a new thermocouple.

Don't damage the new thermocouple by overtightening it at the valve...

Tighten by hand, and then only 1/4 turn with a wrench.

Juanita
 
  #5  
Old 07-03-02, 04:25 PM
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make sure you don't have a small leak putting your pilot out, don't laugh! I've seen a couple over the years. Check for rust on or around your pilot light location
 
  #6  
Old 07-20-02, 08:24 PM
Halcarz
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Wink Gas Water Heater Pilot Light Outage

I have a Sears(Estate) 50 Gal. Water Heater, Had pilot go out up to 3 times in one day. When it was new, i called the toll free number, they sent me a new pilot assembly, i believe it was a slightly different designed TC & Pilot. Recently, however, the same thing happened, I thoroughly vacuumed out the combustion chamber area, and found a deflector piece had also sprung loose. After cleaning, resecuring the deflector and relighting, I have been ok for 3 weeks.
 
  #7  
Old 07-21-02, 05:03 AM
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Hello Halcarz. Welcome to our web site and my gas appliances forum topic.

Based upon the fact that your water heater has a flame spreader, I have to assume it is of an older model. No mention of it's age in your posting.

Flame spreaders were used for that exact purpose. Spreading out the burner flames which meant the actual burner flame size could be reduced to obtain higher energy efficiency.

The problem you encounter with the flame spreader happened all too often. Damaged flame spreaders, which became weakened and distorted over time, broke loose from the spot weldings and in all cases, distorted the burner flames.

In every case, severely damaged flame spreaders the burner created soot, drastically altered the burner flames charactoristics to effect the pilots flame. Pilot outage resulted. That was a positive since pilot outage caused one to notice the problem.

Your attempt to correct the problem was a step in the right direction but not a permanate solution. Recheck the flame spreader often. Shortly, it will have to be totally removed or the above problems will result. Time for a replacement tank is nearing.

Regards & Good Luck
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  #8  
Old 07-21-02, 08:39 PM
Halcarz
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Water Heater Flame Spreader

The water heater in question is about 3 years old. The flame spreader is inserted with tabs trough the bottom of the chamber. No damage seems apparent. *****I do have another question about the same waer heater. I am in the midst of having a new roof installed, I will be getting a high efficiency furnace (was Janitrol, but I think I have heard enough about their problems, that I will get an Armstrong) , as a result, I told the roofers to eliminate my chimney. No problen as far as the furnace, however, I was going to get a high efficiency water heater as well, but, being that my heater is inly 3 years old, it seems a waste. I would like to powervent the existing water heater. and install at least 1 section of PVC as it goes through the wall. Is the exhaust temperature of a power vented water heater any lower than a standard exhaust? Can I use PVC at some point away from the unit. The total piping run is about 10 feet.
 
  #9  
Old 07-22-02, 05:14 AM
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Hello: Halcarz

I guess I just learned something too. A 3 year old water heater that still uses a flame spreader. Hummmm! Thanks for that tip.

Before you use PVC piping and add a power venting system to the existing water heater, I wouls highly suggest you contact the manufacturer and the local cities building and safety department.

Altering an existing venting system in any fashion both on the appliance and venting the unit from the structure may not be safe if done incorrectly. Safety codes will reveal the correct methods.

Inquiring from a licensed plumber will also provide the safest and best means to accomplish the task and complete the project.

Code violations may void warranties, subject the structure to fire hazards, produce carbon monoxides and conflict with fire insurance regulations, etc.
 
 

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