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Gas water heater pilot goes out only on very hot days

I have a 13 year old 50 gal gas water heater in the attic (I'm in Texas). I drain the tank annually. Only during very hot summer days (100+ temp) the pilot goes off by itself. It does not goes off unless attic temperature is very high. I changed the thermocouple but the problem remains. The vent goes straight out to the roof and it has a vent draft installed on top of the tank. The vent pipe sticks out of the roof about 2 ft. I was told perhaps the vent cap out in the roof was too small. Is there a recommended vent cap size for a 3" or 4" vent? what else could be happening? Thank you!

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  • Alejandro
    Alejandro Jun 18, 2009

    I'll do the check as recommended but I doubt the problem is drafting. Unless the drafting is caused by the attic getting really hot.

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  • Master
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It sounds more like the pilot is being blown out by drafting.If there is any open shielding at or below the pilot light line , it is very possible for it to blow out.Hold a tissue between your fingers and ck for drafts around the burner and pilot area. If it's the case, The drafting needs blocking.the exhaust will still exhaust because of the heat it generates and confined location in the combustion chamber. Good Luck.

Posted on Jun 18, 2009

  • Ned C Cook
    Ned C Cook Jun 18, 2009

    Hello, How is it going with the pilot? I've never seen a water heater installed in an attic. But of course there's alot I haven't seen. What type of venting do you have for the attic to deal with rhe heat?I'm in California and gable vents along with slope vents really get the air moving when it gets hot.It's really noticeable with those turbine vents.. I'm trying to picture the installation.You would be the better judge of probabilities I can only think of possibilities and the need for heat to escape and a vertical aperature will naturally generate movement if the heat is low enough to find it. I have more questions than you do. Is the pilot access covered? I'm still fascinated at having that much weight in an attic. May I ask your geographical location?

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Rheem 22V50F1 pilot won't stay lit. Changed thermo couple & it lit, ran then went out. Let it sit overnight & it lit, ran then went out. What next? p.s. The unit is 5 years old. Thanks


If pilot lights and flame is robust and clear blue, and pilot goes out later, then some suspects can be excluded: air in gas line, low gas pressure, thermocouple is overtightened (finger-tight + 1/4 turn), thermocouple not positioned correctly in the flame, dirty pilot tube.
If flame is yellowish and small: then clean pilot tube and combustion parts.
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-install-gas-water-heater.html#clean
Remaining suspects can include: air in gas line, low gas pressure, bad gas control valve, tight house so household vent fans pull air down water heater vent that blows out pilot, hot attic with inadequate ventilation, water dripping down vent.

Open following links to read troubleshoot resources.
http://waterheatertimer.org/pdf/Pilot-light-will-not-stay-lit.pdf
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-install-gas-water-heater.html#troubleshoot

Aug 16, 2011 | Rheem 50 Gallon FVR NATGAS Water Heater...

1 Answer

Reliance 606 natural gas water heater - model #640YORT - water does not stay hot. pilot has to be clicked to heat and then u can use hot water til tank empty and it will not continue to heat water.


If I understand correctly, the pilot light is not staying lit.
You light the pilot and water in the tank reaches temperature.
Once hot water is gone, then pilot light has to be lit again.

Gas pressure is good, and gas is flowing.
Thermostat is working at high end because it cuts off heating.
Vent is working because tank heats up.
Air intake is working.

Gas control thermostat might not be reading low temperature. Replace gas control valve.
Pilot tube might be dirty. Clean burner parts and combustion chamber, and air intake, and vent.
Backdraft might be blowing out pilot. Check for constant updraft by running water heater 5 minutes, and then light match under vent hood and see if smoke goes up.
Very hot air can put out pilot, especially when water heater located in attic. Add ventilation.
Improper vent might have water dripping back down into combustion chamber and putting out pilot light and rusting out the parts. Inspect for rusted parts and water.
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-install-gas-water-heater.html#troubleshoot
http://waterheatertimer.org/pdf/Pilot-light-will-not-stay-lit.pdf

Aug 09, 2011 | Reliance Natural Gas Water Heater Control

1 Answer

Pilot light will not stay lit on GE 40 gal. gas water heater tank


You have tank-type gas water heater:
Gas water heaters need working thermocouple, adequate incoming fresh combustion air with no trace amounts of chemical, open vent to outside that drafts poison combustion product upward, clean burner tubes and combustion parts, correct gas pressure with no air in line, working gas control valve thermostat, no lockout condition such as tripped ECO caused by runaway heating and dirty combustion parts, and no lockout condition such as exposure to flammable vapors.
Open following links for troubleshoot resources:
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-install-gas-water-heater.html#troubleshoot

http://waterheatertimer.org/pdf/Pilot-light-will-not-stay-lit.pdf
http://waterheatertimer.org/pdf/Attic-Ventilation-and-Pilot-Outage-in-Gas%20Water-Heaters.pdf

http://waterheatertimer.org/images/Water-heater-in-attic-800.jpg
http://waterheatertimer.org/images/Test-water-heater-vent-1400.jpg

Jul 30, 2011 | General Electric Water Heaters

1 Answer

Hot water heater pilot is off. It's not gas,


You have tank-type gas water heater:
Open following link to watch thermocouple replacement.
Make sure new thermocouple sits into pilot flame. Instructions for relighting water heater are usually printed on side of tank.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0aBPsNg6vo

Gas water heaters need working thermocouple, adequate incoming fresh combustion air with no trace amounts of chemical, open vent to outside that drafts poison combustion product upward, clean burner tubes and combustion parts, correct gas pressure with no air in line, working gas control valve thermostat, no lockout condition such as tripped ECO caused by runaway heating and dirty combustion parts, and no lockout condition such as exposure to flammable vapors.
Open following links for troubleshoot resources:
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-install-gas-water-heater.html#troubleshoot

http://waterheatertimer.org/pdf/Pilot-light-will-not-stay-lit.pdf
http://waterheatertimer.org/pdf/Attic-Ventilation-and-Pilot-Outage-in-Gas%20Water-Heaters.pdf

http://waterheatertimer.org/images/Water-heater-in-attic-800.jpg
http://waterheatertimer.org/images/Test-water-heater-vent-1400.jpg

Jul 29, 2011 | Whirlpool Water Heaters

1 Answer

Had three 50-gal American Standard water heaters installed Dec. 2009 Two upstairs in attic, one downstairs at ground level. Attic location used because heaters being replaced were up there. Upstairs...


Plumber is right.
Problem is not amount of air in attic. Problem is how hot the air is.
Oxygen molecules separate apart in very hot air and pilot light goes out since there is not enough oxygen density to support combustion.
http://waterheatertimer.org/images/Water-heater-in-attic-800.jpg
http://waterheatertimer.org/pdf/Attic-Ventilation-and-Pilot-Outage-in-Gas%20Water-Heaters.pdf

More ventilation is needed.
Plumber is not ventilating expert, and not responsible for attic ventilation that builder failed to install. Plumber should do a survey of location before installation to make sure gasoline vapors are not stored nearby, but summer attic ventilation is gray area until more general-public folks become aware of problem. Hotter summers temperatures will spread that information.

Hire local home center to install roof vents AND soffit vents.
Note: You also need soffit vents.
Remember a vent on the roof is like sucking air out of a coke bottle. The roof vent is no good unless air can also enter the attic from another vent located in the soffit.

Another solution is electric water heater for very hot locations.
Or install solar-assisted water heater.
http://www.hotwater.com/products/residential/cirrex_solar.html

Jul 28, 2011 | American Standard 40 G Natural Gas Water...

1 Answer

Pilot light keeps going out during hot days


Solution is probably better ventilation to gas water heater.
On hot days, heat and lack of ventilation can cause pilot outage.
Hot air causes oxygen molecules to move farther apart, and combustion is no longer supported so pilot goes out.

Open following links:
http://waterheatertimer.org/pdf/Attic-Ventilation-and-Pilot-Outage-in-Gas%20Water-Heaters.pdf
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-install-gas-water-heater.html#troubleshoot

Jul 04, 2011 | Rheem Water Heaters

1 Answer

No Hot Water in morning


Remove the cover then the access cover, then you can see inside,
the pilot light is probably out.

If out turn the gas off, then get a long match, grill lighter,or piece of paper ready to light, you should be able to see the little thin
gas line that runs inside the tank and see where it connects to,that is where you need to light, now that you see where to light, turn gas knob to pilot, and press down and at the same time light the pilot.
( blow into the pilot area before putting match inside to make sure no gas has built up inside) Hold down the knob for a minute then release, if pilot goes out try again and hold down longer, if you hold it for 3mins and it does not stay lite, the thermocouple is bad and you will have to replace it.

Apr 14, 2009 | Rheem 40 Gallon FVR NATGAS Low WATER...

1 Answer

Rheem 50 Gal Hot Water Heater will not stay lit


On the back of the gas valve (where you turn the temp up) there is a stem that actually goes into the tank that senses the temprature of the water it could be dirty or buried in sediment depending on how old the tank is, or just bad. if the tank is over 10 years old i wouldn't bother replacing the gas valve, the tank is probably not far behind. A new valve will run around $100.00 maybe a little less. You wont find it at menards or home depot in stock but they may be able to order it for you. Menards sells rheem products or try you local plumbing supply house. REMEMBER TO RELIEVE THE PRESSURE ON THE TANK BEFORE YOU WORK ON IT. IF YOU CHANGE THE VALVE DRAIN IT FIRST!

Feb 10, 2009 | Rheem 50 Gallon FVR NATGAS Water Heater...

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