Water Heater Issue: Blows Itself Out During Re-Light

Discussion in 'Plumbing Systems (The Fresh, The Blue, The Grey, &' started by PoppedUp, Aug 16, 2017.

  1. PoppedUp

    PoppedUp New Member

    26
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    Jul 31, 2015
    Morris County NJ
    When the gas valve in my hot water heater opens to make hot water, it often opens so powerfully it essentially blows out both the pilot and the main burner at least 50% of the time that it lights itself up. Due to the lack of flame, the water heater winds up shutting itself down due to a now cold thermocouple. Even when I initially light the pilot (which works fine) and have the door of the water heater open, it lights up hard often throwing a little fireball out of the side. When the heater does light, the flame looks like it has a good mixture (nice and blue). It just seems like the valve opens so hard/quickly and send too big of a burst of propane initially down the tube to the pilot and when it hits the pilot it's igniting too hard.

    I've tried taking my compressed air gun and blowing some air around in the tube hoping that a critter built a nest sometwhere and was partially blocking a tube or something but it didn't seem to help.

    Any thoughts to get this to ignite smoother?
     
  2. Douggro

    Douggro Active Member

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    Jul 26, 2017
    Seattle, WA
    You might start by checking the LP inlet pressure at the water heater with a manometer. Too high a pressure (from a failing regulator for example) could cause that. The next suspect is going to be the gas control solenoid.
    You might also want to post the model of water heater so that other users with that unit could offer advice.
     
  3. Customer

    Customer Well-Known Member

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    74
    Jun 5, 2014
    Odds are it needs a good cleaning. When did you last clean and service it like the owner's manual recommends?
     
  4. Aladin Sane

    Aladin Sane I'd rather be camping

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    Jul 3, 2008
    Iowa
    Sounds to me like a regulator problem. If you can check the pressure delivered by the regulator, do it. If you can't, just replace it.
     
  5. PoppedUp

    PoppedUp New Member

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    Jul 31, 2015
    Morris County NJ
    Thanks Douggro. It's a standard 6 gallon Suburban heater.
     
  6. PoppedUp

    PoppedUp New Member

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    4
    Jul 31, 2015
    Morris County NJ
    Thanks for all the replies!
    Out of curiosity, if the problem was a bad regulator, wouldn't I have problems with my fridge, stove, bbq, and oven? All of these are working perfectly.
     
  7. Customer

    Customer Well-Known Member

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    Jun 5, 2014
    Most likely spider web, wasp nest or dirt. Do the recommended maintenance in the manual.
     
  8. Aladin Sane

    Aladin Sane I'd rather be camping

    943
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    Jul 3, 2008
    Iowa
    None of those devices have the same kind of sensitivity to a sudden puff of higher pressure gas. They don't cycle on and off by themselves, with the possible exception of the oven.
     
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Well-Known Member

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    Jun 5, 2014
    Boston, MA
    When it is running successfully, what does the flame look like? If it's nice and strong and blue, the tube is pretty clear.
    A fireball could be a leaking regulator. When there's no flow, the regulator can't shut off completely and pressure builds in the system until there's enough to shut off the regulator.
    But, if the tube is clogged or otherwise messed up, the flame can travel back into the tube upon ignition and cause a large volume of combustion gasses to blow out the end.

    Clean it first. That's free. If it's clean, order a new regulator.
     
  10. PoppedUp

    PoppedUp New Member

    26
    4
    Jul 31, 2015
    Morris County NJ
    So after confirming everything was clean I did some more digging around on google and found if the pilot is too far from the burner tube it can cause a delayed ignition. Due to the delayed ignition, it allows excess gas to build up and once lit can cause a flameout due to the amount of gas lit. I figured I'd try this first as it was simple to try. Sure enough, I bent the pilot bracket a few degrees closer to the burner and I believe it fixed the issue. So far I have re-lit it numerous times without any issues. We'll see what happens next time I get out for a few days. Thanks for everyone's input!
     
    Popiworks likes this.
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Well-Known Member

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    Jun 5, 2014
    Boston, MA
    Wow. That's it? Good for you! Thanks for getting back with the solution. Now I'm a little wiser.
     
  12. PoppedUp

    PoppedUp New Member

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    Jul 31, 2015
    Morris County NJ
    I'm happy to report we just got back from a seven night trip. We set up, I lit the water heater when we got there and I never opened the water heater door until we left to shut it off and drain it. It ran without assistance the entire week we were there. What a relief! I'd say I'm good to go on this one now. It was so much nicer having hot water all the time whenever we needed it. Thanks again for all of the help!
     
  13. inthedirt

    inthedirt Active Member

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    Aug 28, 2012
    SW Montana
    Will try this out, too. I ran into the same problem on my last trip out (7 days). Had to re-light the pilot several times because of cold showers. Boo!
     
  14. crackerJack

    crackerJack Active Member

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    Jan 6, 2014
    Scottsville, KY
    Awesome. That's some good research. Thanks for posting the solution.
     

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