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  • Hot water heater problems

    Hello everyone,

    I woke up two days ago with no hot water. I tried relighting following the operating procedure but the pilot would not stay in. Suspecting the thermocouple I replaced it. Same problem. I lite the pilot, hold the switch down for over a minute then let it go... Pilot goes out. I tried this several times with the new TC with the same results. I tore down the burner assembly and cleaned the pilot orifice/tubing and made sure everything was un-restricted. Took out the new TC I had installed and put a second new one in (a spare I bought for a future back up). Buttoned everything back up and got the same results..

    I work in a gas plant and am very comfortable working with burners/furnaces. These next couple of steps are probably dangerous but, for me, were good troubleshooting measures.

    I removed the burner assembly and connected the pilot gas supply to the manifold while external to the heater. Lit the pilot and observed to insure intimate contact with the thermocouple. I was satisfied with the results and held the switch in for over a minute, when I let it go the pilot when out. I was able to determine the thermocouple was very hot... I lit the pilot a second time but this time with a bic lighter. With the pilot burning, I used the bic lighter to heat the thermocouple to try and meet the manifold's safety interlock set point. I heated the thermocouple for well over a minute and when I let the switch go the pilot failed. I tried this step numerous times with the same result. I tried this step with all 3 of the thermocouples (one suspect broken and two new OEM).

    For safety I isolated the main natural gas line going to my heater, depressurized all down stream piping from the main isolation valve and checked all associated fittings for leaks with windex. Don't play with gas!!

    I am getting pretty desperate here. The contractors in Fort McMurray charge 180$ per hour plus call out fees etc etc so I really don't want to call one. I am a process operator/power engineer by trade so I know my way around a furnace/boiler/burner etc. If anyone can tell me what the next step is I would really appreciate it. I need a shower like you would not believe!


    Sorry, I forgot to add all the relevant information for my water heater..

    Make: John Wood (GSM)
    Model: JW40534FV-04
    Capacity: 40 US Gallons
    Fuel: Municipal Natural Gas

    Thanks everyone.

    Best,
    Joe
    Last edited by anthropomancy; 09-22-2009, 11:12 PM. Reason: update

  • #2
    Re: Hot water heater problems

    Originally posted by anthropomancy View Post
    Hello everyone,

    ... I lite the pilot, hold the switch down for over a minute then let it go... Pilot goes out. I tried this several times with the new TC with the same results. Don't play with gas!!
    uh....did you turn the switch to On from Pilot?
    (The Low Spark of Steel-Toed Boys)

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Hot water heater problems

      Your problem is something in the gas valve not operating properly.
      Distractions are everywhere, don't lose sight of your dream.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Hot water heater problems

        based on your detailed descriptions of your heater. the problem is the gas valve.

        since you're using a match to lite the heater, you don't have a newer fvir type heater.

        the main gas valve has a weak millivolt coil. it's not holding the safety open. there is a high limit switch built into the base of where the thermocouple screws into, but that too is not designed to be serviced.

        a new main gas valve should be under $100. and based on your skills so far, it's a simple 1/2 hour replacement.

        i'm guessing your heater is at least 5 years old?

        the difference between the valves are typically the shank length, based on the insulation thickness of the heater.

        remove the gas valve and match it up to a new one with the same specs and ratings.

        ps. 90% of the time, it's a thermocouple, you got the 10% gas valve

        rick.
        phoebe it is

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Hot water heater problems

          Originally posted by Drip Trip View Post
          uh....did you turn the switch to On from Pilot?

          The dial on the gas manifold was set to 'pilot' prior to igniting the pilot. It can not be turned to 'on' until the manifolds safety interlock is satisfied.

          __________________________________________________ _________

          Rick, I think you're rite. I'm going to call the manufacturer today and see what they have to say about all of this. Looks like I might also be changing out the gas valve.

          I keep everyone posted. Maybe this thread can help someone else out down the line.

          Best,
          Joe

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Hot water heater problems

            Sorry for the double post, I have ONE more question before I go ahead with the manifold replacement.

            The thermocouple this unit uses has a temperature cut off built in. The TCO is actually built 'in line' with the TC. The installation instructions for the TC clearly say DO NOT bend the wire where the TCO is located (it is very obvious as the TCO is nearly double the diameter of the TC sensing line). There is a slight possibility that the TCO could have been bent ever so slightly. Maybe 30 degrees at most. My question is, how much bending does it take to break the TCO?

            Any help is greatly appreciated!!!

            Best,
            Joe

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Hot water heater problems

              Originally posted by anthropomancy View Post
              .... Maybe this thread can help someone else out down the line.

              Best,
              Joe
              I doubt it. Most everyone would have replaced the unit with a new high efficiency one after the thermocouple disaster. Repairing a 40 gallon isn't worth the our time.
              (The Low Spark of Steel-Toed Boys)

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Hot water heater problems



                NOTE TO ALL PLUMBERS JOHN WOODS WATER HEATERS ARE MADE BY GSW

                OF CANADA OWNERS OF AMERICAN WATER HEATERS SEE "FLAMEGUARD"

                BOTH WAS BOUGHT OUT BY AO SMITH FOR THEIR BURNER SYSTEM !

                THE PROBLEM WITH THIS IS ONE BAD GAS VALVE #2 THE MAIN THING IS

                CLOGGED AIR PORTS ON BOTTOM OF THE HEATER, !

                DRAIN THE HEATER DISCONNECT THE PLUMBING PIPES LAY FLAT ON THE FLOOR

                AND USE WET/DRY VACUUM TO SUCK CLEAN THE AIR PORTS !

                OR JUST BUY A RHEEM/RUUD OR A BRADFORD WHITE AND BE DONE WITH IT
                JERRYMAC
                E-MAILJERRYMAC777@GMAIL.COM
                CALIF. LIC. PLBG,HEAT,DRAINS,ELECTRIC,WATER HEATER, BOILER, POOL AND SPA HEATER
                FIRE SPRINKLER CONTRACTOR,
                SINCE JAN. 1989

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Hot water heater problems

                  Originally posted by anthropomancy View Post
                  Sorry for the double post, I have ONE more question before I go ahead with the manifold replacement.

                  The thermocouple this unit uses has a temperature cut off built in. The TCO is actually built 'in line' with the TC. The installation instructions for the TC clearly say DO NOT bend the wire where the TCO is located (it is very obvious as the TCO is nearly double the diameter of the TC sensing line). There is a slight possibility that the TCO could have been bent ever so slightly. Maybe 30 degrees at most. My question is, how much bending does it take to break the TCO?

                  Any help is greatly appreciated!!!

                  Best,
                  Joe
                  joe, now i have the rest of the facts.

                  it's an outdated design that's been replaced with a external high limit cut off, installed outside the burner cover.

                  call the manufacturer and they should be able to send you the replacement parts free of charge if it's still under their warranty. out here american appliance was the maker and i've changed them out to the updated model. parts are free, labors not

                  call them for assistance with the parts. pretty easy installation as it comes with the parts and directions to retrofit this unit.

                  rick.
                  phoebe it is

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Hot water heater problems

                    Originally posted by Drip Trip View Post
                    I doubt it. Most everyone would have replaced the unit with a new high efficiency one after the thermocouple disaster. Repairing a 40 gallon isn't worth the our time.

                    $26.00 vs $1,200.00+ is not an option for me at the moment. Thanks for your input.

                    __________________________________________________ _______

                    I called John Wood technical support about an hour ago and described the problem. The technician said there is a rebuild kit available that replaces the in-line TCO with an external RESETABLE switch. He is going to overnight mail it to me free of charge and seemed convinced that once I install the kit all of my hot water woes will be forgotten.

                    The kit incorporates an adapter that builds the TCO in to the gas manifold. The adapter also converts the TC to a right hand thread, readily available as a universal TC at all the hardware stores for $10.00.

                    I guess we'll see. In the meantime I am planning on lighting the pilot with the TC installed as is and measuring the mV with my multimeter. The technician said if I get between 18-30 mV then my TC is working properly and the gas valve may be hooped but the rebuild kit will solve the problem. If I get under 18 mV then the TC is NFG.


                    So, save all the sarcasm and put in a bit more work, maybe the hot water will be flowing again soon.

                    Best.
                    Last edited by anthropomancy; 09-23-2009, 11:37 AM. Reason: accuracey

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Hot water heater problems

                      Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
                      joe, now i have the rest of the facts.

                      it's an outdated design that's been replaced with a external high limit cut off, installed outside the burner cover.

                      call the manufacturer and they should be able to send you the replacement parts free of charge if it's still under their warranty. out here american appliance was the maker and i've changed them out to the updated model. parts are free, labors not

                      call them for assistance with the parts. pretty easy installation as it comes with the parts and directions to retrofit this unit.

                      rick.



                      Too funny. We were typing at the same time. Thanks a lot for the Advice Rick. I appreciate it. I can't wait for this rebuild kit to get here. Until then I am showering at my sisters apartment.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Hot water heater problems



                        CHECK YOUR P.M. BOX LINK IN SIGN IN BOX
                        JERRYMAC
                        E-MAILJERRYMAC777@GMAIL.COM
                        CALIF. LIC. PLBG,HEAT,DRAINS,ELECTRIC,WATER HEATER, BOILER, POOL AND SPA HEATER
                        FIRE SPRINKLER CONTRACTOR,
                        SINCE JAN. 1989

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Hot water heater problems

                          Originally posted by JERRYMAC View Post

                          CHECK YOUR P.M. BOX LINK IN SIGN IN BOX
                          what

                          Originally posted by anthropomancy View Post
                          $26.00 vs $1,200.00+ is not an option for me at the moment. Thanks for your input.

                          Best.
                          1200.00? Water heaters cost 300.00.
                          (The Low Spark of Steel-Toed Boys)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Hot water heater problems

                            Originally posted by Drip Trip View Post
                            what


                            1200.00? Water heaters cost 300.00.

                            Okay, well $28 vs $300... Still doesn't work for me. Besides, if I were to go through the trouble (and cost) of replacing my heater altogether I would likely go with a high efficiency tankless on demand system.

                            Thanks again tho.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Hot water heater problems

                              Did you get your problem figured out? I have the same tank with the same problem. Woke up this morning to an icy shower... I call the repairs guys and they don't have a slot for over 2 weeks so i've got to get this figured out myself. The guy a the shop just said to replace the thermocoupler which is no problem but it doesn't look like it did you any good. Any luck?

                              Comment

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