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jwise 02-25-2010 02:48 AM

Problems with water heater
Ok, I am at my wits end. Actually, my wife is at HER wits end, and has therefore put me there as well!

My A.O. Smith Promax GVRA 40 100 is a piece of junk. But, hey, we already knew that, right?

It requires the pilot light to be lit every time you want hot water. However, it has now stopped re-lighting. The light goes out immediately when the plunger is released (the red override valve).

I replaced the thermocouple a few weeks ago when it did this the first time. This effort didn't fix anything, but allowed me to continue re-lighting it when I needed hot water.

Tonight, I did the following in an attempt to fix the water heater:

(1) I scrubbed the underneath side of the water heater, where the flame arrestor is located.

The brush came out clean. There was not any lint or debris on the bottom of the water heater that needed to be removed.

(2) Removed the burner assembly from the burn chamber.

I inspected the parts, and cleaned the inside of the burn chamber. In addition, I ensured the flame arrestor was clean by shining a flashlight up from the bottom of the water heater, and I could see the light quite clearly.

Clean chamber:

Here is the pilot assembly:

The water heater STILL won't work, and I don't know what else to do (other than throw it in the Gulf and just get a new one).

Any advice?

Alan 02-25-2010 09:18 AM

any idea how the vent is routed? Is it clear?

plumberinlaw 02-25-2010 05:07 PM

bad gas valve I suspect

plummen 02-25-2010 05:44 PM

check gas suply tube from valve to burner/pilot assemb.who installed the heater for you? that drip leg for pop off valve is totally screwed to put it mildly for starters :eek:

jwise 02-25-2010 06:22 PM


Originally Posted by plummen (Post 405931)
check gas suply tube from valve to burner/pilot assemb.who installed the heater for you? that drip leg for pop off valve is totally screwed to put it mildly for starters :eek:

It was installed by the builder. This is a new house.

I am now in the process of replacing the gas valve. As I type, the water is draining from the heater. It's kind of a slow process...

I had to pick up a couple things at the local hardware store:

The channel locks are awesome! It made quick work of loosening the gas valve with its 4.25" jaws!

Unfortunately, I couldn't get the valve off as it was. The "drip leg" (?) got caught on the drain valve, preventing it from turning any further.

I had to take the drip leg apart, piece by piece.

jwise 02-25-2010 06:24 PM

After I get the heater drained, gas valve removed, new gas valve installed, and everything hooked back up, I'll let you guys know if it fixed the problem or not.

jwise 02-25-2010 09:13 PM

Well, the stupid gas valve was the wrong one. It is identical to the one I have, except that its flange/nipple is about an inch too short. What genius came up with THAT one? Come on people, standardize!

Neither Lowes nor Home Depot carry the right part, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow when the plumbing supply stores open. Yet another morning with no hot water...

jwise 02-25-2010 09:16 PM

On a positive note, while I was out looking for the gas valve tonight, I remembered that the kids broke the handle on their toilet, and so I picked up a new one. I replaced the crummy plastic monochromatic handle with a nice new all-metal chrome handle with brass arm. The install was fast and everything worked JUST as it was supposed to.

Some things DO go right for me after all...

holman23 02-25-2010 10:36 PM

once u do get the heater to work get your t/p line switched from plastic to metal bestos type material asap

fetzer85 02-25-2010 11:13 PM

Not that you need comforted, but honestly I doubt I've ever finished one of my projects after the first trip to Lowes. I either make a mistake and have to go back to fix it or I change my mind half way through and decide to do it differently. If all else fails, I think you could go into photography - you take some awesome pictures! Sorry its going lousy for you, I know how things can get when the wife gets bothered...but it appears you have things under control and will likely have it fixed soon.

I also love having excuses to buy tools. :whistling2:

jwise 02-26-2010 01:03 PM

Well, I got advice from one of the sales guys at Home Depot last night to go up to Conroe (30 min. drive) and see the guys at Morrison Supply. I suppose this is because they are an A.O. Smith dealer.

I called before driving up there this morning, and was asked to bring the bad part, just in case. I did.

After I was asked the model name (GVRA 40 100), he said, "two years old, huh?" He explained that the GVRA model was only sold in Texas in 2008, and has a known defective part... the gas valve!

He replaced the gas valve UNDER WARRANTY! I couldn't be happier that the previous part didn't fit, as I saved $58 this way!

Here's the right part:

I got back home, and installed it without a hitch.

I followed the directions (for the most part), filling the tank, purging the air out of the lines, checking all the gas lines, ensuring all the gas connections were sealed, etc.....

I went through the pilot re-light procedure which is old-hat by now, and watched through the pilot window as the piezzo lighter sparked, and sparked, and sparked. No flame. I re-checked the gas supply line, and scratched my head a while. I pulled the directions back out, looking to see if I had switched the white and black wires to the switch. The directions did not specify which wire was supposed to go on which terminal, so I figured I'd swap them and see what happens.

Plunger ---> Spark ---> FLAME!

The water heater is still in its burn cycle, so it isn't dispositive that the problem is fixed, but after hearing what the employee at Morrison Supply told me, I think I've licked it!

Thanks all for the help (and listening to my whines and gripes!)

beenthere 02-26-2010 07:36 PM

Probably just took that long to get the air out of the gas line. And by coincidence, the air was out when you switched the wires.

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