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Question DetailsAsked on 9/27/2015

Brand new water heater pilot goes out when burner comes on

We had an old water heater (12 years) and the pilot would light and stay on the burner would come on too but then the burner and pilot would both shut off a few minutes later. So I decided to buy a new water heater from Home Depot. Installed it today and am having the same problem. The pilot come on an stays on then the burner comes on and I can see the pilot light go out. The burner stays on for a few more minutes and then it goes out too.

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I would have them come back and fix it immediately if it is not working right - assuming of course that the water is not being heated right.


I presume you know that modern water heaters (generally in last 10-15 years for most models) do not have standing or constant-on pilots - they use electronic ignitors that turnn on and ignite the pilot only when the water heater thermostat calls for heating, the burner then fires (pilot may or may not turn off at that point), then both are shut off till the next demand call. Part of federal energy conservation laws. If you are consistently getting proper temperature water (typically around 130 degrees) then all is probably well. Hope you did not replace a working heater because of a lack of knowledge about this change - though if it was 12 years old unless it was stainless was probably time to change out anyway.


Otherwise, if shutting down before the water gets up to correct temperature couple of reasons I can think of why premature pilot/burner shutdown would happen to two water heaters in a row -


1) gas pressure is too low or is restricted so the gas regulator is shutting down automatically due to low pressure after a bit of gas has been used - real unlikely if goes for several minutes before shutting down, usually a regulator would shut off within seconds if this was the cause. Also remotely possible a similar problem at your main gas regulatoer outside - but in that case would occur with ALL gas-fired appliances, in which case call your gas supply company.


2) thermostats are faulty or very sensitive from the factory - either registering wrong, or have a very narrow setpoint so they are turning on when the temperature has dropped just a few degrees, so takes only a minute or two of heating to get back up to temperature when there is no demand on it. This setpoint (range between on and off temp) is adjustable on some but not many water heaters. In that case would kick on for only short periods when no water is being used, but if say the tub was running full flow hot then the burner should stay on as long as the water is running plus additional 2-5 minutes or so after water is turned off to reheat the heater water back up to shutoff tempeature after the water demand has ended.


3) you have inadequate makeup air (small, tight location) so the flame is starving for air and a safety pressure or flame rollout sensor is shutting the unit down.


4) you have a partial blockage in the exhaust flue, or if it is a high-efficiency unit that has an exhaust fan (so-called direct vent unit) that fan is not kicking on or a damper in the exhaust flue is not opening fully or at correct time, so the pressure and/or temperature protection sensors are shutting the unit off because they are detecting that the exhaust is not operating correctly.


5) in very rare cases, if going out ONLY when a furnace/boiler connected to the same flue pipe is kicking on, then the flue connections or available combustion air may have a problem that is blowing out the burner or causing a safety shutdown due to backdrafting.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD




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