I have a gas one and it is giving me fits! Our old one began leaking on New
Year's Eve perhaps 3 years ago. I can't remember for sure. Had problems
ever since with it. Would not stay lit. I called repair once and he
replaced the thermocoupler which I've been told is the most common reason
why they won't stay lit.
That wasn't the problem and I found myself lighting it over and over again
to the point where I had to light it 6 times in one day. I gave up and
called the plumber again. I had been putting this off as they charge $250
just to come out, then parts, then of course their service fee.
This time they worked on it for a series of about 2 days, replacing one
thing and another. The guy said there was some sort of updraft problem and
that the only thing they didn't replace was the roof vent.
They had one more part coming but they were sent the wrong thing so they
decided to just give me a new water heater.
Then I noticed that the older new one had dents all over it in places I
couldn't see where it was installed. The guy had a problem getting it in
the small space as the models they make these days are a lot wider. I
thought perhaps he might have damaged it in some way in installing it.
So now I have the new one. But... It too has problems staying lit! It was
going out about every 2-3 weeks. Then the last time I had extreme trouble
getting it lit. Someone (perhaps here?) suggested a website which I went to
and also ordered a book from. In the book and also on the internet, it says
to light these, you need to depress the pilot light button and then the
igniter switch 10-15 times while still holding the pilot light button down.
This after shutting it off for 5 minutes to clear out the gas.
Well, I did that and it stayed light for a long time. Several months. But
now it went out again! It's very annoying as it only seems to happen right
when someone needs to take a shower.
I just had a new roof put on, explained the problem to the roofer and asked
him to put on a new vent. Which he did. So...
Why is it doing this? I did have the garage door open yesterday for many
hours because I was doing a big clean out. But... We had hot water through
the night and early this morning. Not sure when it did go out as I didn't
get into the shower until afternoon and I could tell by the lukewarm water
that it was out again.
Do you think it could just be the way that my house sits? That somehow the
wind, even if not strong could be putting it out? Weird thing is, we lived
in this house for several years with the old water heater and it never went
out. Not sure what that one was. Never really needed to look at it until
it did have a problem.
On Thursday, June 19, 2014 6:37:50 PM UTC-5, Julie Bove wrote:
Many newer units have thermopiles rather than thermo-couples...and some, usually commercial units, have 2 thermopiles to operate a motorized flue damper. The most important thing for both is "flame spread" on the thermo-couple/pile.
Some gas valves have pilot flame adj. screw under a cap. Check it out.
Try adfjusting the position of flame nozzle. Your heater is new and it
has pilot??? Once I read an article if all the pilots are off in every
residence in U.S. The saved amount of NG could heat entire NYC.
Think about that.
Leaking? Where from? How old is the heater? Leaking water drops can
douse pilot. I think that's what is going on. New ones don't even have
pilot. They are trying to fix it? Told you what is wrong other than
This one is not leaking. Our old one that was in here when we bought the
house. We had it replaced. We had nothing but trouble with the replacement
unit so they replaced that. No fee for the replacement one but a helluva
lot of money to have it installed. I am just annoyed that I have to keep
relighting it so often.
Quoting Julie Bove: In the book and also on the internet, it says to
light these, you need to depress the pilot light button and then the
igniter switch 10-15 times while still holding the pilot light button
down. This after shutting it off for 5 minutes to clear out the gas.
On Thursday, June 19, 2014 7:37:50 PM UTC-4, Julie Bove wrote:
If it's not the thermocouple, the things left that I see are:
A - the pilot nozzle. But if that were a problem then when it's
lit you should see an abnormal flame, too small, etc
B - Somehow an excessive draft is blowing it out.
I gave up and
You need to find a different plumber. $250 just to come out and then
a service fee too?
I'd read the manual for the unit you actually have, not some book
you have to order. I've never heard of pressing an igniter switch
10 -15 times, but who knows.
Without knowing how air gets into the WH area, what blowers,
eg furnace blower sucking air?, how the venting is done, etc,
impossible to say.
I did have the garage door open yesterday for many
Is the WH in the garage?
But... We had hot water through
If it went out the prior day, it would be normal to still have
hot water until the next morning, depending on the usage.
Not sure when it did go out as I didn't
This kind of thing is hard to diagnose without seeing it or at least
more info. One thing does come to mind though. Idiots were blowing themselves
up with WHs by using things like gasoline to clean the basement floor
or pouring paint thinner all over the place. To protect idiots from
themselves, the govt passed new rqts for WHs maybe 5 years ago. They
are required to have a design where the flames or pilot light, etc
can't ignite volatile fumes that you fill the basement with. It's
possible something to do with that makes new ones more susceptible to
having the pilot light blow out. Or it could just be that the make and
model you have is more sensitive to it.
Did you call the WH manufacturer and ask them?
That's the going rate here in WA. This is the third company I've called.
They're all the same.
The manual was no help.
Furnace? We have no furnace or any blowers that I know of. But... There
is a fan in the garage. I am not sure where it is or what it does. I only
know where the switch is. It works sometimes, sometimes not. Just for the
heck of it, I did have it on for several hours to see if it made a
difference in the dampness in there. It didn't seem to. And then it quit
My husband gets up early and takes at least an hour long shower. So I know
it had to have been lit then or he would have hollered.
The water for my shower started out hot but rapidly cooled to barely warm.
Nope. Every person I ask about this just tells me to replace the
thermocoupler. I guess I could see if I could find a way to contact them.
On Friday, June 20, 2014 12:45:41 AM UTC-4, Julie Bove wrote:
That sounds pretty bad. I'm in NJ, so I'm used to high prices, but
$250 just to show up sounds very high to me. And that doesn't even
include the first hour of labor?
If you're dealing with those rates, it changes the equation. Maybe
it's time to just get a new WH and cut your losses. If you do get a
new one, I'd get one that doesn't have a standing pilot light. They
have newer, higher efficiency etc ones that light using electronic
ignition. They do need to be plugged in to AC and I'm not sure if
there are tradtional vent ones or if they are all direct vent, but
if it comes to that, it's one solution.
You're telling us the manual for your water heater doesn't
tell you how to light it? That you had to buy some kind
of book or rely on online information from other than
the manufacturer? That would be a first.
Not that it matter in terms of the pilot going out,
because once it's lit, it doesn't matter how it got lit.
What does the manual say about venting, size of vent,
length of vent, etc? If you can post some pics of what
you have there, we could at least get an idea of how
You don't say what kind of fan this is, but if you're 100% certain it
wasn't turned on, working etc when the pilot goes out, we can rule
Garage door open for hours, hot water is gone next AM. Was
There's your problem. He wore the poor thing out.....
I'd say it's still very possible that the WH pilot actually
went out the day before. They don't create hot water on
demand, that's why they have a 40 or 50 gallon tank.
Taking a shower, even a long one, you're still mixing hot
with cold, greatly reducing how much hot you actually pull.
Your husband could have used most of it up, then it ran
out with your shower. I could take a couple of my typical
morning showers with it off before running out the hot water.
That would be the most common cause of a pilot light going out.
But you say the thermocouple has been replaced at least once and
it still goes out. The other possible causes would be:
partially obstructed pilot orifice
bad gas valve
problem with draft/ backdraft blowing it out
leaking water dripping on it and putting it out
I think we can rule out the last one, because if it were leaking
there should be evidence of that by now with all the service calls, etc
You would think the obstructed orifice would have been easily seen
by now too. It's easy to observe the pilot light, at least in all
the older ones I've seen. You just have to take off the small outside
cover and remove an inner metal shield. If it were me, that's what
I would do or get your husband to do. Someone needs to take a good
look at what the pilot light flame looks like when it's lit. It
should be uniform and covering the end of the thermocouple to heat
it. If the thermocouple cools, the gas gets shut off.
And the flame should be relatively steady, not wildly dancing around.
If it's behaving erratically, I would look for drafting problems. That
would be my first suspicion, especially since it's in a garage and you
said that the day before you lost hot water, you had the garage door
open for a long period. I've never had a WH in a garage, but it would
seem to me it could be more prone to the wind blowing it out. If
you have a big garage door open, wind blows into that end, WH is
at the other end, the air pressure is going to try to drive a lot
more air up the vent. I would think that might be able to put it out.
And some WHs may be more sensitive than others. Plus we have no idea
how it's vented.
I'd be looking at that pilot flame with the garage door open and closed,
on days with and without wind, especially on any days when wind is
oriented in the direction of the garage door. Is the door in the
direction of the prevailing winds?
The only thing we haven't talked about is the gas valve. It's the
other part of the thermocouple system. If it's marginal for some
reason, it could be the cause. You say they replaced many parts,
did they replace the gas valve?
My kids have tried that. After fifteen minutes I turn the hot water
off. They now shower in less than 10 minutes. Waste of water and fuel.
Cost a lot of $$$ too.
That is the most common problem. They are cheap and easily replaced.
Rather than pay $250, try to find a local handy person or a friend that
likes to tinker. Ten minute job. Ask for a recommendation at the
CY: Wonder if some thing like furnace is creating a
negative pressure, the resulting down draft may be
blowing it out? Might be the WH needs its own outdoor
air supply, and enclosed in its own cabinet?
CY: That does sound a bit high.
CY: Makes me wonder if there is a problem with the natural gas supply
for the house. Maybe low gas pressure. Sometimes the utility company
will check that, no charge.
CY: When I did heating and AC work, we got the occasional
moment to install a water heater. Since the WH uses gas,
venting, etc, there is a lot in common with heating and
AC. Please consider calling a couple heating and AC
companies, ask them if they wish to come out and help with
the diagnosis. A new guy with a fresh perspective may
be the answer.
I agree with Trader on this one.
Have a helper watch the pilot light flame while you turn on your clothes
dryer (and maybe both your kitchen and bathroom ceiling fans).
Nowadays, houses are built so air tight that in order for a dryer to
work properly, there has to be an open window or something to allow
sufficient make up air into the house to make up for the air the dryer
is blowing out of the house. If none of your windows are open, the
make-up air ends up being sucked down through your ceiling or bathroom
fan vents. But if those won't work because the fan is blowing air up
those vents, the only remaining hole is the chimney, and that might
cause enough of a down draft through the water heater to blow the pilot
Otherwise, if this is a new heater, you should turn this into an SEP
(Somebody Else's Problem) by claiming the heater is defective and having
it repaired under warranty.
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