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Hot Water Heater
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jen-eric
Mueller Community

Posts: 59
Joined on December 6th, 2008
Hot Water Heater
by jen-eric on August 29th, 2011

Has anyone drained their hot water heater and then successfully restarted it? Our water has been running cold so we drained and cleaned the heater but are having trouble getting it to relight. We have a newborn so hot water is pretty critical to us and we wanted to see if someone else could tell us the trick to getting it restarted. Thanks.
 
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Billie Oldziey
Mueller Community

Posts: 18
Joined on July 14th, 2009
Hot Water Heater
by Billie Oldziey on August 30th, 2011

Is your water heater up in the attic? If it is, the excessive heat may keep the pilot light from staying lit. My pilot went out on my water heater and they had to replace a part (still under warranty) and then the plumber was able to relight it and keep it lit. They said the excessive heat made the attic (which is not insulated enough) so hot that there is not enough oxygen molecules (hope I am getting the science right, here) to keep the flame lit. You may just need to call a plumber in to look at it. Good luck.
 
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jen-eric
Mueller Community

Posts: 59
Joined on December 6th, 2008
Hot Water Heater
by jen-eric on August 30th, 2011

Thanks, that may be the case for us, it's in the garage, but it's still really hot in the garage.
 
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Home Inspector
Mueller Community

Posts: 7
Joined on April 27th, 2011
Hot Water Heater
by Home Inspector on August 31st, 2011

The hot weather has nothing to do with your water heater not working, not sure where that bit of information started. From your post I assume your water heater is a gas unit, if so the thermocouple may be defective (easy repair). Let me know or pm me tonight and I’ll give you my phone number, I’ll be up until 12-12:30 writing reports, you can call me tonight or tomorrow. Sometimes it’s a matter of just knowing how to light it.
 
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Billie Oldziey
Mueller Community

Posts: 18
Joined on July 14th, 2009
Hot Water Heater
by Billie Oldziey on August 31st, 2011

Dear Home Inspector: The plumber from Christiansen Plumbing gave this information that due to the excessive heat the oxygen molecules expand and cannot supply the oxygen needed to maintain the flame. That's his story, seemed reasonable to me . . . he replaced a part and now mine works again. Hope you are able to help jen-eric with their water heater.
 
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Home Inspector
Mueller Community

Posts: 7
Joined on April 27th, 2011
Hot Water Heater
by Home Inspector on September 1st, 2011

Hey Billie,

Using the plumber’s logic, unless something was done to cool down the air around your water heater it still should not be working (especially this week when Austin is setting record air temperatures). When the gas burner inside the water heater has ignited, the air inside the burner chamber will easily reach 130-140 degrees. Same goes with a gas furnace; the gas burner ignites and heats the air inside the furnace up to 150 degrees before the blower fan actually turns on to deliver the warm air into your house. So it doesn’t make sense that the exterior air temperature would have an effect on gas appliances that are designed to operate at much higher temperatures.
Not having enough combustion air supply to a gas appliance is dangerous due to the extreme amount of carbon monoxide that the appliance will produce. Insufficient amount of combustion air can eventually prevent the burner from igniting but not before the appliance has produced a lot of unwanted carbon monoxide (toxic).The flame on all gas appliances should be a blue color which indicates that the gas/air mixture is good. If the flame has any white or yellow color to it, there is a problem. Orange color in the flame is usually due to dust in the air that is burning but the orange color should disappear after a few seconds.
Sorry for all my rambling, I didn’t intend to write so much but I don’t agree with the plumber.
 
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AnotherPiperDown
Mueller Community

Posts: 83
Joined on April 27th, 2009
Hot Water Heater
by AnotherPiperDown on September 2nd, 2011

This has happened to our water heater a couple times this summer, I've also relit the pilot light on a neighbor's water heater this summer as well so you aren't alone here.

I suspect our attics aren't vented as well as most considering many of us don't have venting down the sides of our homes in the eves, nor do we have the large gable vents common on older homes around here. You can keep relighting the pilot light during the summer or install a venting fan in your attic to remedy the situation. Or just have cooler summers... that's what I want.

The following was stolen from a website explaining the situation...

Pilot light goes out due to high ambient temperature

The most frequent scenario with the pilot outage is when the water heater is installed in the spaces like attic or garage and where the ventilation is the issue (insufficient amount of incoming fresh air).

Water heater installation in the attic is especially problematic, due to the high temperature of the surrounding air, poor ventilation and little to no traffic. Poor ventilation means lack of incoming fresh air for combustion, resulting in improper gas combustion.

How to recognize improper gas combustion?

Observe what is happening inside the combustion chamber of your water heater, using the sight window on the unit, if it is present. Flame on the main burner will change the color, from light blue to yellow and red. Such a condition will also result in the flame pattern change, first it will light smoothly, and then you will see luminous burner flame that will eventually flatten out.

If during the summer months the air that surrounds the water heater is higher than tank's set temperature, the thermostat won't open the gas valve to light the main burner. Heat produced by the pilot flame is not enough to make a condition for natural draft, so all the oxygen will burn up and pilot light will extinguish.

Also, if there is a poor ventilation, the hot air tends to rise up, and the combustion air from the attic doesn't come down to provide the oxygen to the burner, resulting in the pilot outage.


 
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jen-eric
Mueller Community

Posts: 59
Joined on December 6th, 2008
Hot Water Heater
by jen-eric on September 2nd, 2011

Thanks everyone for the insights. It turned out that our pilot light was indeed out and needed to be replaced. It was still under warranty so we only had to pay labor. Not sure if the heat caused it to go out, but either way we're back in business with hot water.
 
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doug
Mueller Community

Posts: 484
Joined on February 18th, 2009
Hot Water Heater
by doug on June 26th, 2012

I have no hot water and my water heater is in the attic. I took the metal cover off at the bottom where there is a clear plastic window. I can not see anything inside the window so I assume the pilot is not burning. I did not see how to light it though. Any hints?
 
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Billie Oldziey
Mueller Community

Posts: 18
Joined on July 14th, 2009
Hot Water Heater
by Billie Oldziey on June 26th, 2012

Call a plumber to look at it. I had a similar problem and a part actually had to be replaced. This had something to do with the excessive heat in the attic. Anyhow, after a couple of skilled friends attempted to fix it, I had to call a plumber. He replaced the part and it has worked since then. It was all still under warranty, so it all worked out.
 
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