06 Aug

Gas Water Heaters: Most common problems explained to regular people.

  • Brenda Casey
  • Comments Off on Gas Water Heaters: Most common problems explained to regular people.
gas water heaters blowup diagramGas water heaters are the most common type found in this area. The image above is a blow-up (no pun intended) of a typical gas water heater. Both gas and electric water heaters will have a cold water inlet on one side and the hot water outlet on the other side. Every homeowner should familiarize themselves with the water and gas inlet shut off valves. If you have a leak, rupture or some other emergency, you’ll need to know where to shut the unit off. For the gas unit, make sure you not only know WHEN to shut off the gas and water but also, practice to ensure you’ll be able to contain the heater if an actual emergency occurs. Some older valves can be very tight and hard to shut off.
Having no hot water in the home due to pilot light failures is a common call here at Casey’s Plumbing. Learning to re-light it yourself will not only save you some money but you’ll be back in hot water quicker than if waiting for a scheduled plumbing call.
Before we talk about the relighting process, I want to first point out the “sight port.” All newer gas water heaters have sealed burners and an igniter for lighting the unit. One of the most common problems people have relighting these units is simply not looking in the correct direction. When looking in to the SITE PORT window, you will see pitch black. Even when the pilot is lit, it gives out such a small amount of light that it may be lit and you just don’t see it.
What  I always tell people is that you almost have to stand on your head in order to get the proper view of the pilot light. With your head down on the floor and looking up and over towards the pilot tube entry position, you should at this point be looking in the approximate correct direction.
WH Burner assy 
Relighting your pilot light:  
Turn the on-off control dial to the “pilot” position. You will know you’re in the right position by lining up the half moon cut out on the dial with the pilot button. The pilot button will not push down all the way if the control dial is in the wrong position.
When the pilot button is pressed down, it must be held down for the entire relighting process. While holding this button down, gas is being released at the pilot light outlet. Pressing the igniter will light this gas and provide your water heater’s pilot light.
There is one final thing to remember – DO NOT RELEASE the pilot button immediately after the pilot lights. The thermo-couple needs to heat up sufficiently to create a small electrical charge. This small electrical charge is what keeps the magnetic valve serving the pilot light. So after you see it light, count to 120 and then, SLOWLY release the pilot button. If the pilot remains lit, VoilĂ ! You did it! Now just rotate the on-off control valve to the “ON” position and prepare for a loud “whoosh!”. The sound is simply the water heater coming on and is normal.
The image below is for those with older open flame gas water heaters. The relighting instructions are almost identical except instead of an ignitor, you need a long match or other long lighter.
For an electric water heater, the two must know “where and how” items are the circuit breaker in your electrical panel that serves the water heater and the cold water shut off valve at the water heater. In case of emergency, you will need to shut both the power and water off to the unit. 
WH 30 Amp circ 
WH 92-97 
With a little guidance, we know you can be a do-it-yourself gas water heater pro. We’re happy to help, so give us a call for all your plumbing questions. We service Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Tigard, Gresham, Troutdale, West Linn and the surrounding areas.
Casey’s proudly installs U.S.- made and manufactured Bradford White  gas water heaters. We believe they are they best in the business.