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Gas Water Heater Problems

Gas water heaters are essential in a household setup as they are used for several purposes such as cooking, cleaning, bathing, space heating and so on. These gas water heaters require combustion of a fossil fuel in order to heat the water. The heat level of the water can also be controlled with the use and help of thermostats. Within a domestic setting, these appliances are simple to operate generally requiring a switch to engage and disengage. Listed below are a few commonly asked questions that have been answered by the Experts on gas water heater problems.

Why is a gas heater failing to stay lit soon after the ignition switch is released?

This is most likely an issue with the thermocouple. A thermocouple is a little bulb shaped or prong like device that senses the flame when the pilot light is lit. How it works is by a reaction occurring between the two types of metal inside the thermocouple creating a small amount of electricity which opens the magnet inside the gas valve to allow the flame to stay lit. If this device fails, the pilot light will not remain lit once the ignition dial or switch is released. Try cleaning the metal tip with sand paper or steel wool to enable it to detect the flame better. You could clean the pilot orifice to ensure the flame is adequate and blue in color. If all these actions do not help, you will need to replace this part. This is a relatively easy replacement if you are handy and mechanically inclined. The part is easily available with local plumbing suppliers or at most hardware stores in your locality.

What should an individual check when they are trying to plug in their Sears gas heater into the wall, and the ground plug sparks?

This seems to be a case of a hot wire in the appliance is grounded and sparking when plugged in. to check this, inspect all the wiring carefully and look for any burnt or pinched wire. There could be black spotting where it arcs. Until you are able to locate the wire which is grounding out the hot circuit, do not attempt to plug it in. Check the cord itself for a smashed, pinched or chewed spot. This can happen if there are pets in your home.

What are some troubleshooting solutions for an unvented gas heater to ignite when the pilot light is on low, but the stove turns off?

You can try this, after the pilot is lit use a fireplace lighter (which has a long snout that can be held into the flame area) and hold it near the pilot where it would light the burner. Turn on the burner to see if it lights. The problem could be that though the pilot lights it could be weak and when the valve opens to allow gas to the burner the initial rush of air extinguishes the pilot. To resolve this, remove the pilot and clean the orifice inside the pilot head. They may be quite small and can get clogged with carbon leading to the pilot not burning sufficiently. Some vent-less gas heaters also have oxygen sensors in the pilot line which extinguish the pilot in case they sense there is insufficient oxygen in the air to safely allow the heater to work.

What would an individual need to do to convert a Montgomery Ward’s gas heater from gas to propane?

First thing to change would be the burner orifice cap to one which is sized for propane use. This would be about half the size of the natural gas orifice. If you have a gas pressure regulator it will need to be converted for a one rated for propane. Once you replace these parts the air shutter on the burner assembly needs to be adjusted to obtain a blue flame with minimum yellow tipping. There is no requirement of removing the heat exchanger unless it leaks exhaust gases including carbon monoxide. Parts can be obtained at a local gas appliance repair shop.

What could be the problem with an Aquastar tank less gas heater to turn on gas when water is needed?

This is most probably a gas valve problem. Check the electrical gas connections to ensure they are clean and tight and whether there have voltage in them with the help of a voltmeter. If there is voltage present, the gas valve would need to be replaced.

Gas water heaters are useful appliances with a lengthy lifespan if you are able to address minor issues that you could face with it from time to time. As portrayed above, the main components to consider for gas heater troubleshooting when a problem arises are the thermocouples, pilot lights and gas valves. If there are other unfamiliar issues giving you reasons to worry, it would be wise to seek the help and assistance of Experts. Their insights and information at this juncture can help alleviate the problem effectively and reasonably.  

Ask an Appliance Technician

John
John, Home Appliance Technician
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 13453
Experience:  Appliance repair business owner for over 43 years.
12064207
Type Your Appliance Question Here...
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2 Appliance Technicians are Online Now

How JustAnswer Works:

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Appliance Technicians are online & ready to help you now

Ron
ASE Certified Technician
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23 years with Ford specializing in drivability and electrical and AC. Ford certs and ASE Certs
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I am fellowship trained specializing in general urology and reconstructive urology.
John
Home Appliance Technician
Satisfied Customers: 13453
Appliance repair business owner for over 43 years.

Recent Gas Water Heater Questions

  • My wife and I just purchased a new Whirlpool Gas Range, model

    My wife and I just purchased a new Whirlpool Gas Range, model GW397LXUS06. It was delivered two weeks ago and once hooked up all the top burners worked fine but the broiler and oven burners wouldn't light. I did find that the oven or broiler would light once the igniter was glowing only if a top burner was turned on.

    Two repair technicians have been here both had different explanations. The first thought it was a faulty gas regulator but after replacement still no go. The second said our gas pressure was too low. He measured the pressure at one of the burners and it was about 3" WCP. The specs. say that there should be 5" WCP at the inlet to the gas valve.

    Had Xcel Energy come out and they said we have 2 lbs. into the meter and 7" into the house. I have trouble believing the low pressure because we have a gas furnace, new gas water heater, gas clothes dryer and a gas pool heater. All work perfectly and have about the same pressure requirements. The pool heater requires 5.5" WCP at inlet and it is the furthest downstream with about 50' of gas pipe. The range has 3/4" rigid pipe to the flexible connection recommended for this range. It is the first appliance off the main gas line. When the gas valves are turned off for all the other appliances the oven and broilers still won't light. All four burners burn strongly and if the oven or broiler is started with all top burners going all burn very strongly.

    From reading different forums, it sounds to me that the problem could be that the signal to the gas valve to open for the oven or broiler is not being received when the igniter is drawing enough amperage. Also, sounds like by turning on a top burner it is manually opening the gas valve to the oven or broiler. If it is a gas pressure issue which I really doubt, the only thing I can think of would be the flexible connection hose which is not kinked but does have a couple of 90 degree turns. Thanks for any advice.
  • I have a state select 50 gallon gas water heater and found

    I have a state select 50 gallon gas water heater and found a puddle on the floor in the morning today. Also realized there is no hot water because the heater wasn't on due to the automatic shutoff indicator light. after an hour I attempted to turn the tank back on only to find that it will stay on for about 5 minutes before turning off. Do I have to replace something electrical there, like the valve or get a new tank like I was told by a few technicians
  • My gas water heaters burner will not come on. my pilot light

    My gas water heater's burner will not come on. my pilot light works and I've tried resetting it. What would prevent the burner from coming on?
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