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Hot water help 08-26-2012 09:19 PM

Pilot light keeps going out - it is a mystery why though!
I am so frustrated! For a year now my hot water has gone out spiradically. The pilot light keeps going out. After 4 thermocouples, a new gas valve, and a trip from the gas company to check the gas pressure which is fine, it still is not fixed!!!

It is a 730 sq ft apartment with the hot water heater in a closet inside the unit. The closet is next to the balcony. The hot water heater is 9 years old, but i am told that it looks ok inside and isnt rusted etc.

I think it may be a draft getting in? Aside from that maybe the pilot light burner? I have had several plumbers out and no one can figure it out. It is amazing. The last time the plumber was out, a month ago, he replaced the gas valve, then the pilot light wouldn't stay lit at all (which was a new problem since it always would light but would go out in weeks or a month) so he replaced the thermocouple (the 4th one on a year). Aside from that he said it looked fine. Any other ideas???

The main issue is that the pilot light will light and stay lit, but eventually goes out in a few weeks to a month it seems. I have a renter in there now and I am at my wits end with having plumbers look at it and not be able to fix it. I just dont know what to do anymore and how much money this is going to cost me!

I have had it with no one being able to figure it out. I have to call the plumber tomorrow to get him to look at it again since the pilot light went out and there is no hot water.

It really is rocket science.

joecaption 08-26-2012 09:33 PM

Is it sitting on a stand to get it out of drafts?
Is the metal door in place that's suppost to stop drafts. Not just the outside cover plate.
Any or you real plumbers out there think that just maybe the closit is to air tite causing the flame to go out?
Just a bunch of guesses from a layman.

Hot water help 08-26-2012 09:42 PM

Both good questions that I don't know the answer to. I have a renter in there so I can't look, but I will bring it unto the plumber.

It is a condo, the kind where all the units are the same, so you would think others would have the same problem if it was a draft. But based on it all looking "ok" I can only think it is a draft.

I had a hvac company out over a year ago to do spring AC cleaning and I swear ever since they came and fooled around in the closet it has stopped working. Right after they came I had a leak in some hose near the AC and a gas leak that was discovered at the beginning of the calendar year. That closet is a mess and I swear it has gone downhill after this company did work in it.

joecaption 08-26-2012 09:47 PM

Do you remeber what type door was on the closit? If it was a soild door was there a louvered vent in the panel?

Hot water help 08-26-2012 09:50 PM

I don't know the material type, but it does have some vents on it at the top of the door. There is also a vent on the balcony that matches up where the closet is.

joecaption 08-26-2012 09:59 PM

Any idea on how old it is?
Some newer water heaters have a better sealed combustion chambers. It's really to help keep out flamable vapers, but it also helps to keep out drafts.
May be cheaper then to keep hiring a plumber all the time.

Hot water help 08-26-2012 10:05 PM

It is 9 years old. The plumber I had out last time, that I really liked and trusted, said the hot water heater looked fine. I had asked him if I needed to replace it and he said no...but he had quoted me about 2500 to replace it if it did need to be. That seems like a lot since you can buy them for under a thousand at lowes or home depot.

I wish I knew more about plumbing.

Hot water help 08-26-2012 10:25 PM

If it's not the thermocouple, the gas valve, or gas pressure then what could it mAny other things could it be? It can't keep being trial and error, right??

joecaption 08-26-2012 10:29 PM

That would have to be one heck of a water heater for it to cost that much. Is this for just one apartment?

Hot water help 08-26-2012 10:31 PM

Yes, one bedroom apartment, 730 sq ft.

I assume the quote was labor too but it still seems high...right? What should it cost? The apt is in northern VA where it costs more generally speaking.

joecaption 08-26-2012 11:09 PM

Were not suppost to quote cost on here.
Not a big fan of the box store installing anything but for this simple job I'd concider it. The price to install in most cases should be right on the heaters or posted someplace close.
They may try to up charge you for being on an upper floor, If there's an elevator try to fight the charge.
It's just a pain for them to have to go up and down to get tools, and time is money.

Hot water help 08-27-2012 09:39 AM

Thanks Joe Caption...

Anyone else have any clue what could be the issue???

TheEplumber 08-27-2012 10:07 AM

199 Attachment(s)
If the gas valve and thermocoupler are good, I'd look for drafts and combustion air issues.

techpappy 08-27-2012 10:15 AM

Check pilot valve vent orifice ( it is a little brass cap with tiny hole in it) you could remove it temporarily to see if it cures the problem OR just have it replaced..(if the valve is so equipped) to vent the diaphragm....if it is partially clogged it could fail to open intermittently..also the size of the pilot flame is crucial,,if too big it can overheat TC and also could lift off and blow out..may have to reduce pressure..and if too small will not impinge on the TC properly although I imagine most of your gas service techs should know to check these things..also, combustion vent flue termination OR where it exits may have been compromised some how..maybe check neighbors to see how the venting is run say the closet is a mess ..clean it out completely and check the tank installation thoroughly...venting, air intakes etc.

Hot water help 08-27-2012 10:39 AM

At first he said he was going to replace the burner assembly but then started to get away from that since if that was not working the pilot light would still stay lit (if i understood that correctly). So now, he is going to order a new cover since it could be bent from so many people taking it on and off. If that's not it then the will look at the flue pipe and vent. And if that's not it he doesn't know- he was pretty straight forward with me on that saying that hot water heaters are pretty simple machines.

I hesitate to replace the hot water heater if none of those work since it is making the water hot WHEN the pilot light is lit.

Did I mention that this is frustrating!

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