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Very minimal hot water being produced from my water heater

Lately, my hot water heater is not producing very much hot water. Also, my pilot has started going out frequently. It relights w/no problem, but seems to go out. It is a 40 gal. gas hot water heater.

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  • Water Heaters Master
  • 5,089 Answers

1) Clean air intake, and do required yearly maintenance.
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-troubleshoot-gas-water-heater.html#intellivent
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-replace-thermocouple.html

2) Gas control valve thermostat could be going bad, causing disruption of gas to pilot, and uneven heating of water.
http://waterheatertimer.org/pdf/How-to-replace-water-heater-gas-valve.pdf

3) Without knowing brand and model number that shows on label on side of tank, it is difficult to add specifics.

Posted on Dec 31, 2012

6 Suggested Answers

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Posted on Jan 02, 2017

  • 297 Answers

SOURCE: I have a 6 gal Atwood hot water heater. I can

Kenny did you change the thermo coupler?

Posted on Jul 14, 2009

  • 2 Answers

SOURCE: Rheem 40 gallon gas hot water heater, pilot light

To make a short story long (I need to include all details, sry)…

I got up one morning and realized that we did not have hot water. I re-lit the pilot light and as soon as the burner went out from heating the water up, the pilot light would go out. After reading several posts regarding this issue, it seemed apparent that the thermo-coupler was the problem. Since I am a little bit handy around the house and very tight when it comes to opening my wallet, I bought the device from Lowe’s ($8.98) that was recommended by my online advisors and after a few googles, figured out how to change it. No help. The pilot light still goes out.

I gave up and went to Home Depot to purchase and schedule the installation of a new hot water heater.

STICKER SHOCK

A new Direct Vent type water heater costs around $800 with an additional $450 for “special” installation. Add a few fees to that and the grand total came to about $1450.

I felt like I had no choice since my wife and 2 daughters refused to live their life without hot water and I had no clue about how to fix the dam thing.

The plumber assigned to the installation stopped by to evaluate the site conditions and quickly noted to me that the 8 year old water heater tank was in good condition and that the gas controller was probably faulty, which could be purchased online from the manufacturer. I quickly cancelled the Home Depot order and purchased the controller for about $120 after shipping and tax. Immediately after the installation it seemed that the problem had been solved. A few days later the pilot light went out.

I called the plumber and explained the situation and he recommended that I purchase another controller because the one that was shipped to me was probably bad. I searched around town and found a plumbing supply company that had the correct model in stock. Two days later the pilot light was out. I cleaned up the controller and returned it to the store and asked the plumber to please schedule a visit to repair this dam thing.

When the plumber arrived, he hooked up a gauge in several locations and confirmed that the correct amount of gas (cfm) was being delivered to the controller, pilot light and burner. He then proceeded to remove the fire box to make sure that the igniter, thermo-coupler and pilot tip were set properly. He inspected the pilot light tip and said that he found the problem. Using about a 1/64” tip drill (can be purchased at a welding supply store), he cleaned the tiny hole that releases gas to the pilot light. I felt a sigh of relief because I was certain that the problem had been solved. $65 dollars (plumber’s fee for an hour of work) and 4 days later the pilot light went out.

I called the plumber and he said that the controller that I purchased online must be bad. Too embarrassed to return to the first plumbing supply store, I found another one in a different town that had the correct model in stock. Three days after changing the controller the pilot light went out. I returned the controller and a six pack later I decided to do some extensive googling.

The key term here is “DIRECT VENT”. This seems to be a very common problem with direct vent water heaters and I was about to find out the reason for this phenomenon. I read a post by an individual who wrote that if the vent becomes detached that the inflow of air can become contaminated and extinguish the pilot light. I decided that before I spent any more money on a plumber that I was going to take the vent apart and find out what makes it tick.

My direct vent system has 2 parts to the venting, an inner pipe (3” nominal diameter) that serves as the exhaust and the outer pipe (5” nominal diameter) that serves as the internal flow of air which supplies the pilot light and burner with oxygen. On the outside of the house a vent hood helps to segregate the two by extending the exhaust about 3” beyond the intake. I looked into the hood at the end of the pipes and discovered that the internal pipe which consisted of a 2 piece slip joint had come loose from the elbow that sets on top of the water heater. This slip joint pipe was not attached at any point with screws or clamps and was loosely setting over the elbow on one end and into the hood on the other end, allowing it to detach. Apparently, when atmospheric conditions were right, the burner idled down from heating up the water and extinguished the pilot light because the intake was saturated with CO2 from the connection failure.

I purchased a section of 3” pipe that was long enough to be installed in one piece. I connected it to the elbow using a stainless steel hose clamp. I had to disassemble the pipe 3 times to make adjustments to the length and position before I got it right, but I should not have any more problems with the pilot light.

The problem here is time. It takes a lot of time to get this right. When the plumbing contractors installed this unit during the construction of the house, there was no one around to make sure that they got it right. It is probably common to use a 2 piece slip joint type connection, but I feel like it should be attached with screws or clamps. In my opinion it is not rigid enough and can detach easily, especially if it is not installed properly. A one piece connection that is attached at one end with a hose clamp and then held in place at the other end by the hood is fool proof.

Posted on Sep 27, 2009

  • 744 Answers

SOURCE: pilot light on water heater goes out frequently

Check the following:

See if your heater has a pilot gas adjustment valve. It should be on the gas control valve somewhere. Not all heaters have these. It will be a screw on the valve that can be turned.

Make sure the thermocouple sensing bulb is squarely in the pilot flame and also check that the fitting where the other end of the thermocouple connects to the main gas valve is tight.

Check the pilot gas orifice (where the pilot gas comes out) for carbon build up - you may need to remove the pilot gas line and thermocouple assembly to get to this. This problem is pretty common.

Check the gas pressure to the heater. Run the hot water in the dwelling until the hot water heater starts. Check the flame on the main burner and see what color it is - it should be blue with possibly some yellow-tipped flames. If not, there could be a problem with the gas pressure at the heater or venting. If the heater has a gas pressure regulator, it may be out of adjustment or defective.

Finally, and this isn't very common, the pilot light can be extinguished if there is a draft problem, usually associated with an issue with the flue pipe venting system for the heater or another nearby gas consuming appliance.

Posted on Dec 31, 2009

Testimonial: "thank you. will try these suggestions tomorrow. really appreciate it."

kel1guy2002
  • 3740 Answers

SOURCE: pilot light on water heater wont stay lit

The thermocouple has failed. It is the temp probe that goes from the pilot lite burner area to the control valve. Go to your local plumbng repair shop and buy one. Most appliance parts stores have them also. Take the old one with you and they will hook you up with an exact replacement. They are not that hard to change. Usually a nut or 2 screws in the temp bulb area at the burner end and a nut that threads into the control valve.
Make sure before you install the new one that the area where it mates to the gas valve is clean. Should be about a 20 min job including clean up with replacement parts in hand.

Posted on Jan 23, 2010

Testimonial: "exactly what I wanted yo know. thank you"

heatman101
  • 43501 Answers

SOURCE: Pilot will not relight properly

Hi,
The thermocouple needs to be replaced. That is what keeps the pilot light lit. The thermocouple is the little metal probe that sticks up into the pilot flame. Very easy to replace.

heatman101

Posted on Mar 26, 2010

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1 Answer

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Near the pilot there should be a small metal bulb at the end of what looks like a wire which leads back to the control valve. It's called a thermocouple and it produces a small electrical current when heated. Non-electric heating units have a similar device which does the same job using pressure produced by heating a fluid within the bulb but for our purposes here the difference between the two doesn't matter. The function of the thermocouple is to hold the gas valve open for normal operation of the pilot. If the pilot flame goes out the thermocouple cools and disables the valve so that when the thermostat calls for heat, the gas will not be released if there is no pilot to light the burner. Check to make sure the bulb is being heated by the pilot flame, it may need to be repositioned or the pilot may need to be cleaned of carbon buildup to make it produce an adequate flame. If the thermocouple is close enough to an adequate pilot flame and still you cannot sustain the pilot flame when going from "pilot" to "on" position, the thermocouple is probably the problem so replace it. If the problem still exists, assuming you have already made certain that you have an adequate fuel supply, the problem is in the burner control valve. Changing that is something you should consider leaving to a qualified service person.

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