Propane Water Heater Help.

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by Carol K, May 17, 2006.

  1. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Propane water heater would not re light after an electric outage (not sure that has anything to do with it but thought I should mention it). The pilot would not stay lit, so I plucked up courage to do the job myself, bought a new Thermo Coupler and after a 30 minute puzzled stare at it got it changed! I was so proud of myself, BUT it still won't stay lit.
    So any ideas that I can check (please explain in female language :) I would appreciate it,

    Carol
     
  2. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    I assume it lights, but does not stay lit....right? Are you keeping the control knob pressed for at least one minute while the pilot light heats the thermocouple?
     

  3. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    She said female language CF! There is a safety switch built in the controls, it works by heating mercury so it will move to open an internal valve (hole for the gas to come through inside). There is a springy button that must be held in for 30 seconds up to a minute before you can turn loose of it and it stay lit.

    If a draft puts out the pilot flame, the unit will shut down by cutting off the gas, there is also an adjustment of the flame height and color. If I remember correctly here, it is to be blue with a hint of orange at the tip of the flame. Others more knowledgeable about this adjustment please chime in now. Do not make any changes until you get solid knowledge about the adjustment's appearance.

    Also use soap bubbles applied to all connections that you made to check for leaks, the bubbles will enlarge or multiply if there is a leak.
     
  4. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    LOL "springy button" thanks Moo. Yes it lights fine, the old one did to. I've held the pilot light button down for well over a minute, but it goes out as soon as button is released.
    I should say that there is a power venter hooked to the hot water tank that exhausts any gasses etc for the water heater and a propane furnace. Not sure if it's relevant at all.
    Tank is 8 years old, could it be just plain "old" ??

    Carol
     
  5. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    Describe the appearance of the pilot flame for us.
     
  6. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Ok just ran down and re lit it, and flame is all blue. I also didn't see anywher on there to alter the flame, and of course it went out as soon as I released the button.

    Carol
     
  7. morrowsmowers

    morrowsmowers Well-Known Member

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    If you have a power vent system on it then it is connected to your electric system in your house, correct? Make sure that the power is on to the tank - check for a switch that may be off, etc. You may find a reset button on the electrical controls for the tank that must be reset -- look for a push button type thing sticking out and push it in -- if it resets it will stay in. I've seen power vent units in commercial usage but not to often in homes, and the one I did see in a home had so many little circuits to control it I referred it to a contractor for service.

    Ken in Glassboro, NJ
     
  8. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Ken thanks I'll go and look. I must admit our basement looks like a submarine with all the infloor heat pipes. Guess I should have learned more before "the split with hubby" LOL

    Carol
     
  9. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Don't see any switches of any kind that could be re set. The Power vent won't come on unless the water heater is running, so I have no clue if it is working or not.
    This sort of stuff makes me feel so helpless, now I don't know if I should call a plumber or electrician?
    Right now I have hot water as my outdoor boiler is being used and water passes through a water to water heat exchanger and then dumps into the propane hot water tank, so that's one good thing. I just didn't want to burn wood all year to just get water.
    Any other thoughts or ideas appreciated, will check in tomorrow after work

    Carol
     
  10. jadedhkr

    jadedhkr Well-Known Member

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    try the thermocoupler, that would be the copper wire from the control box to an area down by the pilot, if its bad the pilot won't stay lit. they cost about $4-8 depending on length.
     
  11. jadedhkr

    jadedhkr Well-Known Member

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    sorry didn't read your entire post, is the flame surrounding the tip of the thermocoupler , if not you can tweak the thermocuopler just a wee bit to help it align with the pilot
     
  12. raymilosh

    raymilosh Well-Known Member

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    Hmm. The propane water heaters i have seen did not use any electricity. When the power went off, the pilot light would stay lit.
    Does your water heater have an electric plug?

    If it does, then I'm not sure what it does, but I'm thinking the first thing I would suspect is that it is no longer getting power. Best yet would be to get a desk lamp (that you have just proven works by turning it on) and plug it in where the water heater plugs in and turn it on. If it lights, well, then the outlet is working. If it doesn't, then the outlet is not working. To get the outlet working, check the circuit box. Look in the breaker box to see if any breakers have been tripped and reset them (for an explanation of how to do that, ask here) Also look to see if the water heater is plugged into a wall outlet with a "GFCI" circuit breaker. If it is, try to reset it by pressing the reset button right there on the wall plate (for an explanation, ask here).

    If the water heater does not have an electrical cord, then I'm guessing that the power outage was not the cause of the water heater pilot light going out.
    Usually a failing thermo couple causes the symptoms you described, so replacing it was the best first step. If it was instaled such that the pilot light is adequately heating the end of it, then it should work. If it is not working, then I would suspect the whole control unit has a problem (I don't actually know what it's called). In that case, it would probably be easier and cheaper to replace the whole water heater. Eight years is a reasonable water heater life span.
    If you need to replace it, consider a tankless water heater...expensive to buy, but easy to install, takes up much less space, takes less energy to run and you never run out of hot water.
    Because you have a wood fired preheater, really consider getting one that senses temps of incoming water, that way, it only turns on when the water coming in isn't hot enough, thereby saving even more energy. (It sounds like the way yours is set up only begins to use the woodheated water after you have used the whole tank of propane heater water first). I have an Aquastar LP-125-S (S is for solar preheated, but preheated is preheated)
    Wshew. Long post. I know they can get tedious to read. Sorry. Good luck.
    ray
     
  13. Jack in VA

    Jack in VA Well-Known Member

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    The pilot flame should be surrounding the last 3/8 in. of the tip of the Thermocouple. The other end should be screwed into the gas valve hand tight and another quarter turn. If you tighten it too much you crush the innards of the TC and it won't work.
     
  14. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    Since your hot water heater has a power exhaust vent, and since this all started after an electrical outage, my bet you problem has more to do with the power vent than the thermocouple. I am wondering if the motor in the power vent didn't get fried or some electronic sensor that turns on vent. I am willling to bet that if the sensor "knows" that the power vent will not turn on (because it's fried or doesn't have power) that it shuts off the gas flow.

    I have this type of water heater at home (power vented). I will disconnect the power to it tonight when I get home and see if the pilot light goes out.
     
  15. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Cabin, thanks , I was unsure if the power vent did or didn't have anything to do with it, but like you suspected, if it was the vent and it is working correctly then the water heater should turn off. I'm not sure how to tell if the vent is fried or not.

    Jack, I was real careful not to overtighten the thermo coupler, LOL, being female I HAD to read the instructions!!

    Ray, it's doesn't have a plug on it, the electric wire looks like it's hooked to a couple of sensors and then to the power vent and the vent is direct wired into a junction box, at least I think that's how it goes.
    I was really hoping it was the water heater as I wanted to get a tankless one and was reading up on the Aquastar ones this last weekend. Saw the solar pre warmed and wondered if I'd be able to use that, trouble is I only pre heat the water in the winter when the outdoor boiler is on, so not sure if that would work for me.
    If it's the vent, then it's no new tank for me, will have to get new vent I guess.
    I appreciate all the help you guys are giving me,

    Carol
     
  16. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    Well, Carol, it doesn't look like I'm gonna be able to help you like I thought I could. My gas water heater doesn't have a pilot light! It has a sparker. When I unplug the vent fan and turn the thermostat up to a higher temp, the gas burner does not kick in. When I plugged the vent fan back in, the burner did kick on.
     
  17. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Cabin, thanks for looking. I guess I'll try and find out if the Power Vent has any power to it and go from there.

    Carol