Gas Water Heater Troubleshooting Guide
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A guide for gas water heater troubleshooting. The
problems; symptoms and causes. Troubleshooting low performance,
insufficient hot water, pilot light problems, improper gas
Gas hot water heater troubleshooting guide will assume that
unit has been correctly sized, professionally installed, per codes and
manufacturers' instructions. The problems such as leaking, smelly
corrosion and other, similar to the problems found in
electric units are described here.
Note: before calling the plumber or the licensed HVAC
technician for the problems related to your gas water
heating, recommendation is to read the gas water heater troubleshooting
found here, and the instructions from the manufacturer manual (if you
still have one).
Combustion odor and sooting
Smoking and carbon formation and the combustion odor are water
heater problems that are very dangerous for its owners, if not
resolved. This is why the gas water troubleshooting article
these problems at the top of the list. Such problems should be
troubleshoot and treated with caution.
- If you find smoking and carbon deposits and smell the
burning gas inside your home or room where the gas water heater is
installed this is what you should check: check for any obstruction in
the vents, flue baffle and burner.
The venting path should be clean of
any dirt, dust and deposits. Preventive inspection and
maintenance can reduce the cause.
- An insufficient fresh air supply, which can happen in the
confined spaces, is another major cause of the sooting and combustion
odor. Properly sized openings on the outside wall for the fresh air
intake is one of the solutions. Manufacturer usually recommends the
size of the openings, and how much air is needed for the proper
- Your gas unit might be receiving the excessive gas pressure.
- Tighten the main burner or gas connection if loose.
- Replace the orifice if the unit is using an incorrect size.
Troubleshooting gas hot
water heaters - Burner does not ignite
- The main burner won't ignite because of the pilot light
problems - this problem will be described below.
- If the main gas burner line is clogged, there is a dirt in
the gas line, or pilot line, make sure to clean it all.
- Replace the thermostat and thermocouple
if you find them
- For gas water heaters installed in the confined areas, make
sure to provide a good venting with sufficient air supply.
- Bleed the air from the gas line.
Pilot light assembly
- Check is the igniter working properly and generates sparks.
- Problems with the thermocouple. If the thermocouple is
broken, replace it. If it is misaligned, position it properly. Tighten
the loose connections.
- Is the venting correct? Lack of the fresh air will cause
the pilot light outage.
- Check are the flame arrestor and filter clean of lint, dust
- Replace the thermostat if it is broken or ECO switch is
Find more details about troubleshooting pilot light problems here
Insufficient hot water and
- Insulate the pipes if they are exposed to cold weather and
- Check the flue vents for the blockage to see is there an
insufficient air supply. Clean the vents and flue baffle if needed.
- Check the thermostat and if it is calibrated improperly,
Problems with the burner
- If the burner flame floats, lifts off the ports, or is too
large, you might have an incorrectly installed burner orifice (too
large) or the vent system is blocked.
- For the yellow lazy flame, clean the dirt from the burner
gas supply line, clean the orifice, vent system and provide sufficient
fresh air to the water heater.
How to troubleshoot
condensation in gas water heaters
There are three, the most common causes of the condensation
problem on gas tank water heaters:
- A new gas water heater is filled with the cold water and
runs for the first time.
- Great amount of hot water is used in short period of time,
and the tank is refilled with the cold water. This is common on
undersized gas water heaters.
- Most of the today's heaters are energy efficient, high
efficient or Energy Star water heaters, and since they work with the
lower temperatures of the flue gases, condensation forms more often.
Good venting is very important to carry away the flue gases and water
Keep also in mind that the flue gases contain a large amount
of water vapor, which is by its nature acidic. The acidic condensate
can affect the metal surface by corroding it. It can usually be seen
around the draft hood.
Condensate problem should be eliminated or at least reduced,
as the excessive condensation can cause the pilot light outage,
sizzling noise on the burner and puddle of water under the unit.
One of the simplest solutions for the water heater
condensation is to increase the temperature settings, if the
temperature is too low.
Gas water heater troubleshooting guide is not for one specific
brand or model; it covers Rheem, AO Smith, Bradford White, State, GE,
Kenmore, American and other manufacturers. If you find problems, which
are not presented in this troubleshooting guide, and you cannot solve
them, it is recommended to
call a licensed technician. If looking for the replacement parts use
the genuine elements or from the trusted name, with the same
characteristics and per manufacturer's specs.
and clean heater's environment should be
the first thing to consider when troubleshooting a gas water heater.
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