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if unit runs ok for 3 to five minutes then completely shuts all power lamps off , then its hi temp limit sensor (safety) has been tripped , this usually goes out due to failure of main temp control , in point of fact contacts in temp switch literally weld them self's together and cant separate to allow heater to control temp
? doesn't this control On/off on a thermostat ?? the button your referring to is it the piliot test button ? if so I guess you've found a loophole in there test strategy by holding it down for five minutes to get it too stay on ,
what does this heater do when it shuts off on seeing a heated water temp to setpoint (or doesn't it ?) as if the test button is the only way to light it , this button bypasses a few normal safety switches (allthogh I didn't know about the five minute thing) one of the most common safetys that goes on these heaters is the heat exchanger over temp switch , seems the wires get hot and the little connectors fall off it
Sounds like a dirty flame sensor.
Also 9 degrees is a large swing to recover. Most specialist will advise no more than a 5 degree set back, otherwise recovery time eliminates any savings you may achieve.
The 4 flashes is a high limit or roll out switch is open. There are 2 or 3 little brown or black button looking switches with a little button on the top and a wire attached to each side. Press the button on each, you may hear a slight "click". If you do, that is the one that was open. Hope this helps.
After troubleshooting like mad, I found that the flame sensor (rod that sits within the flame) was fouled with carbon on the surface. I believe this shields the rod from proper heat detection and the sensor reports that there is no flame and to shut off the gas valve to avoid explosion. Once I pulled out the rod and cleaned it with a wire brush, I have no problem whatsoever--fixed.