Water heater in attic won't stay lit in TX.


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Old 07-19-04, 07:26 AM
melinda funni
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Water heater in attic won't stay lit in TX.

My mother's water heater won't stay lit. She bought it March 03. It is a GE brand. The plumber told her that the orifice was not the right size and they are suggesting installing a larger one. Their reasoning is because of the extreme heat and humidity in her attic. They think a larger orifice will solve her problem. Have you ever heard this?
 
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Old 07-19-04, 07:24 PM
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Sounds like the thermocouple has gone bad. This is the unit that keeps the pilot light burning which is what lights the main burner.If the thermocouple does not sense heat, it shuts off the main gas supply.(or just doesn't let it flow).Have not heard of humidity effecting a burner (but I am in Arkansas)Good luck and post back.
 
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Old 07-21-04, 07:36 AM
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Hello: Melinda

Chances are the thermocouple is burned out. Replacing it solves the problem. Cleaning the pilot assembly also helps. Likely hood is the assembly can be restircted with dust and or minor corrosion due to the humidity but not as likely.

The normal amount of heat inside the firebox usually keeps it dry enough in the firebox to avoid moisture causing problems. Especially in such a short period of time.

If the pilot flame is too small or appears to be too small increasing the orifice size will cause more harm than good. Pilot cleaning required. Orifice replacement not suggested nor recommended.

Personally never heard of a plumber who works on gas water heaters suggesting orifice replacement as the solution. (Guessing here which orifice is to be replaced. (Pilot or Burner?) Not mentioned exactly which one or both.

Neither the pilot nor the burner orifice should be replaced, imo. Neither will correct any existing problem. Not the solution. Doing so will be counter productive, cause sooting, odors, Carbon Monoixdes and more problems by increasing the btu ratings of either pilot and or burner.

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Old 06-07-06, 06:11 PM
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Water Heater in attic won't stay lit in Tx

I have this same problem. Have had it for years only occurs in summer. It is a big hassle. and i cannot believe I have not found any info on it on the web, other than this post. I can say it is NOT the thermocouple. It happened again weeks after a brand new heater was installed. It occurs on very hot days with little wind, the water heater pilot will go out. It goes out only when the heater shuts off. I know this because I actually watched it happen one time. The unit shut off, the flame danced around a bit, then went off. Once the weather goes back down to the low 90's, or if we are in the mid 90's with a breeze, chances are it will stay lit. Once the weather gets cooler, it never goes out. I can pretty much predict days when it will go out.
Must be ventilation related. The attic gets real hot. i have had more ventilation done in the attic, even had the stack pipe raised 12 in. and these have helped a bit, but not a complete solution. I am ready to move the water heater to the lower part of my attic where it is not so hot.
I am open to other ideas....it gets real tiring trudging up the attic on hot days to relight pilot. i have to believe that with so many water heaters in Tx in attics, this has to be more prevalent than the web indicates.

Thanks
Jack
Tx.
 
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Old 06-09-06, 01:36 PM
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This is a common problem with attic installs during very hot weather. Anyway, the super hot air becomes too thin to support combustion with natural gas. The result is pilot outage.

Rheem has long recognized this potential problem and discusses it in detail in technical bulletin 1411 (available at the Rheem website).

The solution is reducing attic temperatures by increasing ventilation.

It seems the newer water heaters are more prone to this problem. Probably due to the smaller pilot flame used to save energy. I have experimented in the past by increasing the orifice size. The results were successful. However, you will end up with a pilot that uses considerably more gas and likely no longer meets the energy standards.
 
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Old 06-10-06, 12:18 PM
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Water heater in attic won't stay lit in TX

Jim,
thanks..The rheem bulletin confirmed my suspicions. It also noted last that the most well ventilated attics are susceptible at high outside temps. I think this is my case. I have added a ridge vent, and also some fixed turtle vents (4) in the two lower attics I have that feed up into that highest one with the hot water heater.
Do you think a takkless hot water heater (which I assume has no pilot) or a pilotless gas hot water heater (with electronic start if such a thing exists) may be an answer ?

Thanks,
Jack
 
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Old 06-11-06, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by bassman369
Do you think a takkless hot water heater (which I assume has no pilot) or a pilotless gas hot water heater (with electronic start if such a thing exists) may be an answer ?
I suggest you contact the manufacturers of the heaters you are considering.

I am not enthusiastic about attic installs. I think they are a risky proposition at best. Consider the consequences if a leak should develop. The little drain pan with the Mickey Mouse pipe attached to it can only handle very limited amounts of water.

Seriously, I would consider a better location if possible. A tankless may open some doors of opportunity.

Good luck.
 
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Old 07-12-08, 03:55 PM
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Pilot Goes Out In Hot Weather

I have the same problem as Jack except I live in San Diego Ca. and my water heater is outside. As soon as the temp gets hotter than 80-85 it goes out. I have replaced the thermo coupler 4 times and the gas regulater unit. Just recently I opened the two vents up to let in more air, no help there. I have to turn on the pilot everytime i want to have hot water, it last about 20 minutes. As soon has the water heats up and the burner shuts off I can watch the pilot go out.
 
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Old 07-12-08, 06:49 PM
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This is a well known and well documented problem...specifically in TX and AZ. It has to do with combusiton air supply. Please refer to this Rheem technical service bulletin on this issue.:http://waterheating.rheem.com/conten...eries/1411.pdf


Please DO NOT change orifice size unless an authorized manufacturer's technician does this. The problem is more complicated than just flame size, and messing with the gas is not often a good idea.

The basic solution involves providing more ventilation supply into the attic area.


San Diego: you may or may not have the same problem. If you are in a closet of any kind,, there needs to be about 100 sq. inch of vents within 12" of the floor AND the same amount witnin 12" of the ceiling of the closet. Without this, you will have combustion problems, aggravated by the hot temperature.
 

Last edited by 594tough; 07-12-08 at 06:52 PM. Reason: add
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Old 07-13-08, 01:23 PM
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You may want to check and make sure the water heater is not rated for propane on a nat gas system. Have numerous LP water heaters purchased from big box stores installed on natural gas.
 
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Old 07-23-08, 10:27 AM
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Water heater won't stay lit.

Same here.
My Reliance 606 replaced an older Galaxie WH for the same problem. Now 30 months on, the Reliance is having the same problems.
At least my Reliance 606 has an electronic lighter so I don't have to mess with lighters.
see my pictures at.
http://www.pbase.com/ihor/water_heater

Reliance has suggested a good cleaning and sent the instructions to do that. That'll be my weekend chore.
 
  #12  
Old 09-15-08, 02:30 PM
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Smile Possible solution

I struggled with this problem for several years in northern Alabama. During the summer, the first thing I do when I get home from work is to go in the attic and check the pilot. Many days I would have to relight it.

A few weeks ago, I tried something that has worked for me. It might or might not work for you though.

I had the temperature on my water heater set to the economical setting. I raised it up one notch, not a lot. Since then, I've relit my pilot once or twice at most.

My theory is that the pilot wasn't generating enough heat to cause enough updraft in the water heater to keep the pilot supplied with oxygen. In cooler weather, the attic is cooler, and it doesn't take as much heat from the pilot to have an adequate updraft.

Like I said, this has helped me, but your mileage may vary.
 
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Old 09-15-08, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by jbreed
I struggled with this problem for several years in northern Alabama. During the summer, the first thing I do when I get home from work is to go in the attic and check the pilot. Many days I would have to relight it.

A few weeks ago, I tried something that has worked for me. It might or might not work for you though.

I had the temperature on my water heater set to the economical setting. I raised it up one notch, not a lot. Since then, I've relit my pilot once or twice at most.

My theory is that the pilot wasn't generating enough heat to cause enough updraft in the water heater to keep the pilot supplied with oxygen. In cooler weather, the attic is cooler, and it doesn't take as much heat from the pilot to have an adequate updraft.

Like I said, this has helped me, but your mileage may vary.
as a licensed plumber I always set the control nob to setting b this is hot enough to sanitize dishes and have very few people call me back with problems. You might also make sure that you have a vent cap on your water heater vent this will help in preventing down drafts from blowing out the pilot. plumberjohn6868
 
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Old 07-03-09, 01:30 PM
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I live in Houston, TX and I am experiencing the same issue.
It is caused by the new water heater design. The federal government mandated a change for High Energy efficiency and they changed the design. Well the new design does not work.
I have found issues identical not just similar, they are identical so that tells me is a manufacturer issue. The pilot goes out.
I bought in Nov/2008 a GE 50 gal gas water heater from Home Depot 12 years warranty with 1 year full warranty, Home Depot even installed it in the attic and charged me more because the attic has more labor.

Well, I pursued in May/2009 a warranty claim with Home Depot and GE and both were denied. They said it is environmental not their problem, the same thing has been happening since the new design hit the markets.

They sent a GE certified technician home and he sides with me, He said that it is the equipment fault and it needs to be retro fit to change the valves with a high altitude valve. Home Depot knows it, GE knows it, Whirlpool knows it, all the tank water heater manufacturers know the problem but they don't want to do anything because it means a huge recall. The new designed hit the markets in 2003 so imagine how many potential problem are lurking in the attic of America. They could be a potential fire/explosion hazard but nobody is doing anything.
Contact your local newspaper, TV station, BBB and let them know this issue, the more noise we make, the better chance we will get to make them correct this issue.
My problem is they know the problem, they are selling the equipment for attic installation without any warning and they even install it there. If I had any warning I would never purchase it.
It is the same with your car, when you go to the gas station and open the gas tank, you see a warning "Unleaded gas only", Would you buy leaded gas? No, you could it is your choice but you were warned, in this case I didn't and neither others.

Spread the word help your fellow american fight this big corporation.
 
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Old 07-04-09, 08:07 PM
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The Rheem water heaters ( GE brand ) have NEVER had the issues that caused the Whirlpool water heaters at Lowes to be subject to a class action lawsuit. It is a completely different issue.

The issue of pilot light problems was well documented in areas which are very hot and have a lot of WH in attics. This problem predates the 2003 update. It is related to inadquate attic ventilation.
 
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Old 07-06-09, 07:04 PM
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I have a State Select 3y/o hot water heater in a newly built home of the same age. My hot water heater is not in my attic, but in my well ventilated 2-car garage. It's not in a closet, but in the corner up on a platform. I live in Northern Nevada (elevation 4800 feet). It is very dry here (no humidity). The average summer temperature is about 88. It does get hotter (especially in the garage) This same time last year my hot water pilot light would not stay lit. I called the company, who sent me a new thermocouple. By the time it arrived, for some strange reason, the problem resolved itself. (I now know it started getting cooler). Needless to say, I was thrilled, but kept the part, just in case. I am a single mother who is capable of most run-of-the-mill home repairs, but I hate doing it. So, I was thrilled to put the part on a shelf and call it good.

On Saturday, July 4th (after almost a year of not having ANY problems) the pilot light started going out during the day. Mysteriously, it stay lit over night. I got the new thermocouple out of the box and installed it yesterday. The pilot stayed lit all night, but went out while I was at work today. I am convinced that it is happening when the temperature in the garage gets hot. This does not seem right to me that all these brands of hot water heaters are having this problem. If anyone hears of a class action suit or a recall, please post the information so those of us who are having this problem with our different brands of water heaters have some recourse. I have been searching the web for a couple of hours but have not found anything.

Thanks,
Tamela
 
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Old 07-06-09, 08:29 PM
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Before going to court, try cleaning the pilot burner.
 
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Old 07-10-09, 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by fidelfs
It is caused by the new water heater design. The federal government mandated a change for High Energy efficiency and they changed the design. Well the new design does not work.

Whaddayamean " the new design doesn't work"?

It's a HIGH EFFICIENCY design! By arranging for the pilot light to shut off, you are saving money and energy.

You find it annoying to relight the pilot? Tough. Our political lords and masters want to save energy --- too bad if carrying out these national goals is inconvenient for you.
 
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Old 08-18-09, 06:00 PM
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Rheem WH in Houston attic

Much thanks for the informative thread. Reading other sites/forums, was convinced I must replace my thermocouple. But descriptions here plus Rheem tech bulletin (thanks "jbreed") made me re-think.

I'm in Houston, have 2003 attic Rheem WH, plus no ventilation. Been in home 4 yrs; no pilot light problems first 2 summers. Last summer had to re-light 4 times (but never in winter). This summer, dozens of times!

Interesting fact from NOAA,"THE SUMMER OF 2009...THUS FAR DEFINED AS JUNE AND JULY IS NOW THE
WARMEST JUNE/JULY COMBINATION IN HOUSTON WEATHER HISTORY...[URL="http://www.srh.noaa.gov/hgx/climate/reviews/080109pns.txt"].

Bottom line, I now keep garage-ceiling-mounted pull-down attic door open and garage door cracked 1-foot (attempt at some ventilation). Also turned up WH temp setting "1 notch" (thanks again "jbreed"). So far, so good, no pilot re-lights.

Thanks again to all of you for preventing a needless thermocouple replacement and further frustration.
 
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Old 08-19-09, 09:00 PM
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Question One pilot out, one good in TEXAS!

I have TWO identical Rheem WHs one year old in the attic with Ridge vents etc. 1 year old home, plenty of soffits as well. One twist I have propane not natural gas. Last summer no problems, this summer one pilot continually goes out during hot days the other is fine, NEVER goes out. Rheem's customer service guy suggested I change to a natural gas orifice (larger) and sent me one but I can't find a plumber to install it and now I know why. BAD idea also ILLEGAL He never explained why the other one was fine.

Their TSB is informative but the Charles' Law thing only applies to a sealed container most of our attics are ventilated, (not sealed). So the pressure doesn't rise. The air leaks out. Also, air is 21% oxygen, how the heck could it drop down to 4% !! I've been in a hot attic before I didn't pass out from lack of oxygen! They say combustion can't be supported. That's bull. I can re-light the pilot and the burner comes right on like gangbusters and stays on until the temperature is reached. They also say the volume of the air in the attic increases, how could it when the attic is a fixed volume. Even if it WAS a sealed attic then the pressure would increase NOT the volume! I think they're making excuses with all their double - talk. They're trying to act concerned.

I believe heat is the issue and some of their pilot assemblies can't take the heat and malfunction. So they want US to pay for it by adding attic ventilation. But that's good for our home anyway so why not do it? They just need to 'fess up.
 

Last edited by gasman55; 08-19-09 at 09:01 PM. Reason: Left out location
  #21  
Old 08-20-09, 01:17 AM
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>


While I'm an Xpert gas appliance repairman, I'm not an Xpert on this phenomena, so I'm going by the article from the manufacturer.

As I read it, Charles Law doesn't apply only to sealed containers. Instead, it's a phenomena of hot air, sealed or not. Because the air is hot, the amount of oxygen actually available to burn the pilot and manin burner gas is reduced, starving the flames for air to burn and perhaps extinguishing them altogether.

In addition to the very hot attic air, add in the heat produced by the burning pilot light and main burner --- that may be contributing to the problem as well.
 
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Old 08-20-09, 11:24 AM
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Pilot light

Hey, thanks for pointing that out but I still don't understand why the main burner itself (which must use way more oxygen than the pilot), can burn without any problem, but the itty bitty pilot doesn't have enough oxygen in the same attic. The gas is also heated so it would be "thinner" too. The ratio of oxygen molecules to gas molecules required to support combustion doesn't change. (you need 5 O2 for each propane molecule). Also, I have 2 units in the same attic, I just don't understand how one can be fine and the other messed up. Charles Law doesn't explain the whole problem, I think it contributes. How much less oxygen could there be at 160 vs 90 degrees. I don't think it's the < 4% like they claim. I did some checking on the net and I would estimate that there is around 16.17% oxygen at 160 degress and 20.9% at 32 degrees ( standard temp and pressure). Think of a gas grill, if you keep the lid closed it gets hotter and hotter it doesn't extinguish itself.
 
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Old 08-21-09, 08:49 PM
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By jove, I think I've Got It

Okay, I called Rheem and talked with Drew in tech service. Here is a plausible explanation which incorprates elements from a lot of the posts here.

1)The heat in the attic interferes with the normal updraft in the water heater ( thanks Jbreed and plumberjohn6868)

2) This reduces the air available and thus the pilot flame decreases in size and heat output

3) There is not enough HEAT generated to keep the thermocouple energized so it shuts off the gas supply and the pilot goes out!

This explains why if you restart the pilot the main burner will burn fine, there IS enough oxygen in the attic air. You just need enough updraft in the heater to draw the air in.

So the possible fixes:

Turn up the water heat a notch so the updraft increases.

Cool off the attic with more ventilation

Larger pilot orifice tube for bigger flame ( not the best idea)
 
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Old 08-22-09, 10:26 PM
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Originally Posted by gasman55
Okay, I called Rheem and talked with Drew in tech service. Here is a plausible explanation which incorprates elements from a lot of the posts here.

1)The heat in the attic interferes with the normal updraft in the water heater ( thanks Jbreed and plumberjohn6868)

2) This reduces the air available and thus the pilot flame decreases in size and heat output


Ummm. Well, maybe. But I like the Charles Law explanation better.

I doubt that the heat in the attic is affecting the draft. Were that happening, it's something an experienced repairman would observe were it happening to the main burner.

And I'd say it's unlikely to happen to the pilot burner, which drafts pretty naturally due to the hot flame which will allow the cobustion gasses to rise and be replace with fresh air, warm or not.

Cooling off the air with more ventilation would be the likely way to help solve the problem.

I wouldn't expect that turning up the thermostat is going to help ----but knock yourself out if you like.


And larger tubing for the pilot burner is pointless to try.

If you are talking about putting in a pilot orifice with a larger diameter --- I doubt you aren going to find one, for openers. Secondly, you'll burn more gas and reduce efficiency. And I'd be surprised if it did any good.

Go with adding more ventilation.
 
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Old 08-22-09, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by gasman55
Hey, thanks for pointing that out but I still don't understand why the main burner itself (which must use way more oxygen than the pilot), can burn without any problem, but the itty bitty pilot doesn't have enough oxygen in the same attic. The gas is also heated so it would be "thinner" too. The ratio of oxygen molecules to gas molecules required to support combustion doesn't change. (you need 5 O2 for each propane molecule). Also, I have 2 units in the same attic, I just don't understand how one can be fine and the other messed up. Charles Law doesn't explain the whole problem, I think it contributes. How much less oxygen could there be at 160 vs 90 degrees. I don't think it's the < 4% like they claim. I did some checking on the net and I would estimate that there is around 16.17% oxygen at 160 degress and 20.9% at 32 degrees ( standard temp and pressure). Think of a gas grill, if you keep the lid closed it gets hotter and hotter it doesn't extinguish itself.

Pilot lights are more commonly sensitive to being extinguished than main burners --- most of the time. Once the main burner lights, unless it gets snuffed out altogether due to lack of combustion air (which can happen) it will usually stay lit.

But pilot burners have to stay lit 24/7, and any little thing can cause it to fail.

And the pilot burner for a water heater usually takes all its combustion air from that surrounding the pilot flame --- so it can be sensitive to a compromised air supply.

I have never observed this Charles Law problem myself, but it appears to be plausible. An added plus is that it suggests a relatively simple fix --- improving the supply of air to the attic to reduce temperatures on very hot days. That might be as simply as leaving the cover off the attic crawl space access.

The other suggested problems seem less likely to me and the suggested remedies not worth trying.

So I'd be inclined to try improving the ventilation first and see if that solves the problem.
 
  #26  
Old 09-18-09, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by SeattlePioneer
...I wouldn't expect that turning up the thermostat is going to help ----but knock yourself out if you like....
I can speak from experience, turning up the thermostat made a dramatic difference for me.

Previously, my thermostat was set on the low side for safety with small children. I was having to relight the pilot daily during the hot part of the summer. Now it's set a notch or two hotter and I've only had to relight it a handful of times in 2009.
 
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Old 09-23-09, 11:13 PM
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Well, jbreed, I can't think of a reason why turning the thermostat up should help improve the situation, but life is full of surprises.

If it works for you, who's to argue?

Perhaps someone can think of a reason WHY that should help.
 
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Old 09-24-09, 07:43 AM
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The extra heat in the water tank will necessarily aid in the updraft and thus pull fresh air toward the pilot.

CaryMan
 
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Old 09-24-09, 09:00 AM
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Well, nice theory Cary Man. Personally, I doubt that it's true.


Hot water surrounding the flue that extends through the typical storage type water heater creates a draft going up to the draft hood. I personally doubt that a few degrees difference in water temperature would affect that much.

But perhaps you are right. It doesn't sound likely to me.
 
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Old 09-24-09, 09:05 AM
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Just a thought. Perhaps it could be part of an additive effect. They did other things to increase air flow at the same time and the sum of the parts solved it for them.
 
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Old 09-24-09, 03:34 PM
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I see this a very old post (2004) with many people jumping on.
I don't see where the combustion air opening in the heater has been addressed. The combustion air opening is called the "arrestor plate" and it is subject to lint build-up. This will cause the pilot to go out unless cleaned.
 
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Old 10-16-09, 04:28 PM
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Here's the Whirpool Water Heater Fix

I just went through this, and it cost me nothing. My faulty Whirlpool water is now running at 100%. There was a manufacturing problem with these tanks that seemed to slip through the cracks. DON'T SCRAP YOUR TANK BEFORE DOING THIS!!! There is a sticker with a toll free number stuck to the side of your tank. CALL THIS NUMBER! You will end up talking to a Whirlpool rep in India, but this works. Tell the rep you have a Whirlpool Water and want the "Piolet Burner Assembly Upgrade/Replacement"

You must have your Model, serial and product number available. These are on a decal on your tank. The phone rep will give you an "alfa" code for your model. It will be a, b, c, d, e, ect. followed with a part number. You must write this code and number down, because the conversion, repair parts are available at Lowes Home Improvement Warehouses, and are available at no charge to you. You will need to take all your tank numbers with you to Lowes as how there is a form the store associate needs to fill out and have you sign to state your water heater has been upgraded.

The instructions that come with the kit are very clear and to the point. If you're handy, like me, I installed this Whirlpool unit myself, you can do the repair in like 30 minutes. Or if you prefer, you can hold on to the kit and call a contractor to do the install. Here in Michigan, they said like $150.00.

This kit will gut out the entire inside of the burner unit of your tank. The only old parts you need to transfer will be the burner and the orifice under it.

Mine is working as fine now as the day it was new. I hope this helps some of you and if you can, pass the info along!
 
 

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