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Thread: Hot water tank issues

  1. #1
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    Default Hot water tank issues

    I have a 6 yrs old water tank and the pilot keep going out. This is almost an everyday occurrence now.

    Anyone on here in this business or advice on what the issues might be?

    Thanks
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    Check the Thermocouple.

    If its got a ton of crap on it, you can wipe it off and see if it still turns off.

    If so, replace it, its a $15 part and 99% the first part replaced.

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    Yeah, clean up the thermocouple - I think there was a special technique for it... But a scuff with a 3m/scotchbrite used to get us by until a replacement could be found (But then use gloves when handling, skin oils was part of the problem if I recall)

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    Bump, I woke this morning to no hot water. Went down and looked and it appears the pilot won't even light. My understanding of the situation is that you need the pilot lit before the thermocouple matters. That sound right?

    Suggestions before I got to replacement?
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    Not sure of the expected life on your current unit - mine was 7-10 years. I was just before year 7 and it started leaking. Rather than F around with it (given the age), I had a new one chucked in by Pete the Plumber for $750. No regrets. I had leaking issues though, not lighting issues. Lighting = inconvenience, Leaking = potential huge bills.

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    Originally posted by Env-Consultant
    Not sure of the expected life on your current unit - mine was 7-10 years. I was just before year 7 and it started leaking. Rather than F around with it (given the age), I had a new one chucked in by Pete the Plumber for $750. No regrets. I had leaking issues though, not lighting issues. Lighting = inconvenience, Leaking = potential huge bills.
    I replaced both of ours at the same time when we bought a new house even though they weren't leaking (they were 15 years old) We put these trays under them and piped them down to the drain so hopefully if/when they leak the water will go to the drain.


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    So the spark igniter doesn't light the pilot anymore? Replacing a thermocouple is usually pretty easy but the John Wood you have is a little harder than some as you have to disconnect and remove the burner assembly to remove the thermocouple.

    Personally I would replace the tank (I prefer Bradford White) as those Flame Guards are typically shit. If you want to keep it going you can probably throw a 24" thermocouple in and check to see if the flame roll out switch was tripped (on the right side opposite the sight glass, it has two wires going to it, you can push a small tab on it, if it makes an audible click sound it's been tripped, check the flame, is it yellow and noisy?)

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    Originally posted by StreetRacerX
    So the spark igniter doesn't light the pilot anymore? Replacing a thermocouple is usually pretty easy but the John Wood you have is a little harder than some as you have to disconnect and remove the burner assembly to remove the thermocouple.

    Personally I would replace the tank (I prefer Bradford White) as those Flame Guards are typically shit. If you want to keep it going you can probably throw a 24" thermocouple in and check to see if the flame roll out switch was tripped (on the right side opposite the sight glass, it has two wires going to it, you can push a small tab on it, if it makes an audible click sound it's been tripped, check the flame, is it yellow and noisy?)
    Yes, I cannot light the pilot. It went out on it's own overnight, and I canot get it relit. I'm not an expert, but that doesn't sound like a thermocouple problem to me.
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    Pete the plumber is fully booked until monday unless I pay for emergency service. Other reccomendations?
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    Originally posted by ExtraSlow

    Yes, I cannot light the pilot. It went out on it's own overnight, and I canot get it relit. I'm not an expert, but that doesn't sound like a thermocouple problem to me.
    There is conflicting information in this thread. First off you need to know what kind of system your HWT is.

    the 3 basic kinds are

    -standing pilot (pilot is always lit and is kept lit by the flame heating the thermocouple)(these are the ones you have to manually light)

    -intermittent pilot (the pilot only lights when there is a call for heat. the pilot is prooved with a flame rod which then allows the main gas valve to open.

    -direct ingnition (no pilot at all the whole main burner is lit with a ignitor or hot surface ignitor and is prooved with a flame rod on the opposite end of the burner as the ignition source)

    reading the OP sounds like its a standing pilot but some people are advising on intermintetent ignition type.

    In a standing pilot system you should still be able to light the pilot even if the thermocouple is defective it just wont stay lit. which leads to a gas supply problem(valve,air lock, cracked pilot line, or gas is shutoff to the unit completely)

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    Originally posted by ExtraSlow
    Bump, I woke this morning to no hot water. Went down and looked and it appears the pilot won't even light. My understanding of the situation is that you need the pilot lit before the thermocouple matters. That sound right?

    Suggestions before I got to replacement?



    You likely already watched this (and your brand likely differs), but this guy does a pretty good walkthrough/troubleshooting video.

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    Originally posted by ExtraSlow

    Yes, I cannot light the pilot. It went out on it's own overnight, and I canot get it relit. I'm not an expert, but that doesn't sound like a thermocouple problem to me.
    If your tank is an older style that does not have an ignitor in it then yes you should always have the pilot light on.

    If you turn it off for a minute, then to pilot and push down on the valve or hold the red button (depending on style) you should be able to light it with a lighter.

    If you can't do that chances are your valve is no good.
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    Assuming that picture is of OPs HWT, he has a manual spark igniter which is located on the right side of the gas valve. He will have to set the temp dial to pilot which will allow him to push the red button on the left side down. With that red button depressed push the igniter button down repeatedly until the pilot ignites. If it fails to ignite, the igniter is faulty or the pilot valve is failing to open wit the red button depressed, beat the dead horse or have a new tank put in.


    That tank is standing pilot with a manual spark igniter, it would be kindifficult of a pain in the ass to light it with a match orlightas the only way into the combustion chamber would be to remove the burner assembly which also means disconnecting the gas line and pilot line going from gas valve to burner assembly.
    Last edited by StreetRacerX; 11-21-2014 at 12:47 PM.

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    I think there's some confusion since I didn't start this thread, I just took it over.
    To clarify, my tank is identical to the one in the first post, John Wood Flameguard pro. So yes, it's manual spark igniter.
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    Originally posted by ExtraSlow
    I think there's some confusion since I didn't start this thread, I just took it over.
    To clarify, my tank is identical to the one in the first post, John Wood Flameguard pro. So yes, it's manual spark igniter.
    When you hit the spark igniter do you see it sparking through the sight window?

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    Fun update 1: Got a quote from Clearview plumbing. They don't do phone quotes, so I met the guy at my home, he looked at things, we talked for a bit, and he seemed pretty helpful. Then he taps away on his fancy ipad quoting software for a bit, and shows me some options. First option, $4200. Errrrm, NO. second option $3800. . . . . Sixth option, $1800. And that was the cheapest. Was for a nice 50 Gallon Rheem unit, but Jaysus, just doesn't seem reasonable. Basically, that unit retails around $800, so they are charging about a thousand dollars for install.

    I sent that nice man away.
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    Fun Update 2: I was so annoyed about the concept of spending nearly two thousand dollars unexpectedly, that I went down to the tank and restarted my diagnostic process.

    1) SPark, works, as it did earlier today.
    2) pilot, lights up just fine, this is new.
    3) pilot stays lit when I let go of the button
    4) burner fires up fine!

    I'm pretty fucking happy right now. I assume that gas valve is flaky and will fail soon, but for today, I have hot water.

    A buddy of mine suggested somehow there could have been an air bubble in the gas supply line. Seems unlikely since the pilot lights in my two fireplaces are both lit and didn't go out.

    Any thoughts on how this can happen? Is a flaky gas valve pretty much the only possibility here?
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    Thousand bucks for an install - shit, I had my old one out and the new one going in 90 minutes and that included me moving some copper pipes and messing around with the natural gas piping as well. If you know your way around some basic soldering skills and pipe cutting, then it's quite an easy task - good Saturday morning job.
    Last edited by speedog; 11-21-2014 at 01:38 PM.

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    Originally posted by speedog
    Thousand bucks for an install - shit, I had my old one out and the new one going in 90 minutes and that included me moving some copper pipes and messing around with the natural gas piping as well. If you know your way around some basic soldering skills and pipe cutting, then it's quite an easy task - good Saturday morning job.
    Not entirely legal (assuming it's gas), but it's pretty easy to replace a water tank. Especially if you buy the exact model you're replacing.

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    ~$1000 for install, last water tank install costed me $120

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