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Ask Craig Your Own Question

Craig
Craig, Electrical Technician
Category: Appliance
Satisfied Customers: 4529
Experience:  33 years experience electrical troubleshooting industrial equipment and control systems.
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The flame on my gas hot water heater burner (not pilot light)

Resolved Question:

The flame on my gas hot water heater burner (not pilot light) blows out. Is this a venting issue?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Appliance
Expert:  Craig replied 3 years ago.

Craig :

If the burner actually goes out while it's on and running, it's the thermostat shutting it off. How long does it run before going off? It could also be the thermocouple loosing signal to the gas valve. Make sure the thermocouple is tight on the side of the gas valve. It's the 'copper wire' looking thing that comes out of the side of the gas vavle and goes into the pilot flame inside.

Craig :

I suspect it's the thermocouple that is causing this burner flame out

Customer:

It's not shutting off, it's blowing off.

Customer:

It starts acting like an acetelene flame only it goes out.

Craig :

How old is the heater?

Craig :

It sounds like the burner has a hole in it

Customer:

It's 20 years old.

Craig :

I see this a lot with outdoor grill burners, they get a hole from age and the gas 'blows' out the hole

Craig :

Yes, it sounds like it's got a hole, especially if it's 20 years old

Customer:

But there are times when it runs great. Wouldn't a hole cause it to blow out every time?

Craig :

Does it seem like air is coming down the exhaust pipe? When it's windy?

Customer:

Yes

Craig :

Look at the vent pipe on the roof for the water heater. The 'rain cap' may be off...

Craig :

The pipe for the heater is coming out on the roof and could have lost the cap that prevents water and wind from going in

Customer:

It's on the side of the house and it looks good. There are no weeds covering it (the heater is in the basement).

Craig :

Is this a new development?

Craig :

Nothing has changed but this just started?

Customer:

In the last 3 months.

Craig :

I want you to go look closely and see if there are nay signs of debris or grass inside the end of the pipe or something.

Craig :

I can't see why the flame would start acting like this from the pipe though

Craig :

It seems like it would be caused from a burner or gas valve issue

Craig :

but it only does it occasionally right? Is it just when it's windy out?

Customer:

I does appear to only do this when it's windy. There is nothing that appears to be blocking the pipe. I did just replace the gas valve because I thought that might be what it was but it's still doing it.

Craig :

Let me ask you, is the cover for the burner access opening on? Is it in place covering the opening into the burner?

Customer:

Not at this time because when the burner blows out, it blows out the pilot also and I need to be able to re-light it. I do put it back on though and it still blows out.

Craig :

ok, that's what I was wondering

Craig :

I am wondering why the wind never affected it before now?

Craig :

Can you think of anything that has changed?

Customer:

I don't know because nothing has changed in the backyard as far as landscaping is concerned.

Craig :

How far up the side of the house does the pipe go after exiting the basement?

Customer:

About 18 inches.

Craig :

and it's always been like this ?

Customer:

Yes.

Craig :

So it's very close to the ground

Craig :

you never had these issue at all?

Customer:

Yes, about 18 inches above ground.

Craig :

Is there snow there around it?

Customer:

No

Craig :

hummm...

Craig :

Well something has changed to make this start doing this...

Craig :

I am trying to figure what it could be

Craig :

You changed the gas valve

Craig :

just all of a sudden windy days blow it out

Customer:

Is there a baffle valve for incoming air? Could it be staying open?

Craig :

the chimney is open all the way out, the gas goes up and out. The air is supplied from inside the house air

Customer:

But there is a draft coming into the tank because it sometime blows out the lighter when I'm trying to re-light the pilot.

Craig :

That's normal air flow due to the air pressure difference when you have the cover off. Close the door to the water heater area to help this

Craig :

Once the heater lights, it creates 'draw' going up and out

Craig :

I am going to have to recommend extending the outside vent pipe to the roof line to help this

Craig :

It should actually be vented out the roof by today's codes

Craig :

I would really like to see it go up much farther to the roof

Craig :

I think this would really help the problem

Craig :

The installation you now have is not recommended

Craig :

I has to go to the roof

Craig :

I am not saying it's not safe

Craig :

I am just saying it would not be passed by any kind of inspection today

Craig :

It's too low

Craig :

A longer pipe would help

Craig :

and it's not expensive or difficult to do

Craig :

Hardware stores have everything you need

Customer:

It is 20 years old so it must have been installed up to code in 91.

Craig :

A lot has changed since then..

Craig :

I really thinnk it would help

Craig :

The 'draw' or suction is very low with that install and it's letting air come in backwards

Craig :

Normally the air would be going up and out

Craig :

Especially when it's on, it would never blow out

Craig :

if the air draw was right

Craig :

The longer pipe would provide this

Craig :

Normally the pipe should extend above the roof line

Craig :

Any chimney you see is this way

Craig :

A water heater is not quite the same but they are never that low

Customer:

Well, maybe that is what I'll do then.

Customer:

Thanks

Craig :

Yes, I think it is what you need to do

Craig, Electrical Technician
Category: Appliance
Satisfied Customers: 4529
Experience: 33 years experience electrical troubleshooting industrial equipment and control systems.
Craig and 5 other Appliance Specialists are ready to help you

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