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  • Water Heater Pilot Won't Light

    I have an American Water Heater, gas with an electronic ignition. Discovered this morning that I have no more hot water and the first thing I noticed is that the pilot light is out. So I followed the instructions to reset it (turn gas to off, then to pilot, press reset & fire igniter), but nothing happens. I don't even hear/smell the gas. What's strange though, is this gas line breaks off and goes to my furnace right next to the water heater and the furnace is working fine.

    I'm sort of at a loss, unless there's somehow a clog in the gas line between the break-off & the heater, or......I'm completely missing something...

    Help? TIA!
    Last edited by ahoek; 04-04-2009, 09:55 AM.

  • #2
    Re: Water Heater Pilot Won't Light

    Probably not a clog. Unless you are comfortable with gas I would get a plumber out there. It could be the gas valve or thermocouple or not enough air for both the furnace and water heater.
    Last edited by EasyEman; 04-04-2009, 10:13 AM. Reason: misspelled

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    • #3
      Re: Water Heater Pilot Won't Light

      Originally posted by EasyEman View Post
      Probably not a clog. Unless you are comfortable with gas I would get a plumber out there. It could be the gas valve or thermocouple or not enough air for both the furnace and water heater.
      I tried it with and without the furnace running.. didn't make a difference.. Like I said, I couldn't even hear/smell the gas when trying to light the pilot. Shouldn't I be able to a little?

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      • #4
        Re: Water Heater Pilot Won't Light

        Originally posted by ahoek View Post
        I tried it with and without the furnace running.. didn't make a difference.. Like I said, I couldn't even hear/smell the gas when trying to light the pilot. Shouldn't I be able to a little?
        Not in a properly sealed water heater the gas will go out the flue.

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        • #5
          Re: Water Heater Pilot Won't Light

          This is a guess. I'm pretty sure this is the company that makes heaters for Whirlpool which had some models that were notorious for the pilot going out.

          Probably the same equipment labeled differently. NOT a clog. And NOT something I think you'll find an easy fix for on the net to save a few bucks.

          Ask some friends for a recommended licensed plumber. Usually better than just grabbing the yellow pages.

          J.C.

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          • #6
            Re: Water Heater Pilot Won't Light

            Call the manufacturer. If it is still within a warranty period ( probably 5 or 6 years), they may cover it. But beyond the first year, labor is not covered usually, so you may have to pay for the service call.

            American is a brand of A.O. Smith. You can find info on that website.

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            • #7
              Re: Water Heater Pilot Won't Light

              sounds like a 5 year or newer fvir style heater with a push button sparker/ igniter. these are sealed combustion chambers and it's very difficult to hear the gas flow. is there a little glass window to see if you can see the spark from the igniter?

              it could be a bad igniter, loose wire or plugged pilot orifice.

              this is a seal burner assembly and requires the proper torx screwdriver and door gasket to properly service the heater. if it's an older unit, and you can get to the pilot, then it's a simpler repair.

              is the burner a sealed unit? what year is it and model #.

              typically the parts are covered but not labor. american will send you the parts if needed and still under warranty (6 years)

              even for guys that do this for a living, it's not a simple fix without the proper parts, tools and knowledge.

              rick.
              phoebe it is

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              • #8
                Re: Water Heater Pilot Won't Light

                i had a problem just like yours. my heater was only 6 months old. turned out it was the pilot/burner assembly had to be replaced. a sensor was faulty and caused the pilot to go out randomly. i could re-light it but the burner would light for about 15 minutes then quit. i called the store and they had a new unit sent to me under warranty. changed it and haven't had a problem since.

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                • #9
                  Re: Water Heater Pilot Won't Light

                  The longer it takes you to call a plumber the longer you will be without hot water.

                  Mark
                  "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                  I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

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                  • #10
                    Re: Water Heater Pilot Won't Light

                    Next time buy Bradford White
                    I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

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                    • #11
                      Re: Water Heater Pilot Won't Light

                      Thanks for all the suggestions. I called American, and they said my particular model has a known problem with the thermocouple, they are sending me a new one free of charge since it's under warranty. I'll post back here once it's installed & see if that fixes it.

                      Thanks again

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                      • #12
                        Re: Water Heater Pilot Won't Light

                        How is replacing the thermocouple going to help lighting the pilot.
                        I thought that you need the gas going to heat up the thermocouple to keep the pilot light.

                        Ahoek said that he could not light the pilot.

                        It may be a few nights without hot water until he gets it diagnosed correctly.


                        Simon
                        Last edited by Some Day Plumbing; 04-04-2009, 05:57 PM. Reason: Adding stuff

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                        • #13
                          Re: Water Heater Pilot Won't Light

                          Originally posted by Some Day Plumbing View Post
                          How is replacing the thermocouple going to help lighting the pilot.
                          I thought that you need the gas going to heat up the thermocouple to keep the pilot light.

                          Ahoek said that he could not light the pilot.

                          It may be a few nights without hot water until he gets it diagnosed correctly.


                          Simon
                          The thermocouper has a one time use built in high-limit control. Once this is tripped the thermocoupler must be replaced. They will probably send you the updated burner assembly with the resettable high-limit control on the burner door. Just make sure while you have the burner out you take the time to clean the screen top and bottom with a bristle brush or a vaccuum. It is really quite an easy replacement, just pay attention to the directions if you have never done it before.
                          Distractions are everywhere, don't lose sight of your dream.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Water Heater Pilot Won't Light

                            I assume you are holding down the knob that's turned to "pilot" while you press the igniter? You have to depress it and hold it down until the thermocouple is hot enough, a little bit after it lights.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Water Heater Pilot Won't Light

                              Originally posted by Some Day Plumbing View Post
                              How is replacing the thermocouple going to help lighting the pilot.
                              I thought that you need the gas going to heat up the thermocouple to keep the pilot light.

                              Ahoek said that he could not light the pilot.

                              It may be a few nights without hot water until he gets it diagnosed correctly.


                              Simon
                              100% correct

                              a bad thermocouple will not allow the pilot to stay lit. but it will still light.

                              the original 1 time left hand threaded thermocouple like devine mentioned was replaced with a newer style separate high limit switch.

                              good call simon

                              rick.
                              phoebe it is

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