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Old 07-19-2011, 03:04 PM   #1
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Another @!#*& water heater pilot that goes out!

You might remember (if you have a better memory that I have), that I replaced the water heater during the Run to the Sun in November of 2009. We bought a 10 gallon Atwood, which was very much like the original Bowen that was in it, at Camping World on sale. We bought the Plain Jane model, pilot light, no "boards".

We stopped in to Jackson Center on our return trip home to have it installed. All went well, it worked beautifully right up till the end of the 2010 season.

This year, right from the word go, it was difficult to keep lit. Typically,it would light right away, but after 2-3 minutes, it would go out. Occasionally, it lights up and can sometimes keep going for days,but more likely, it heats up the water then when it cycles off, the pilot goes out.

Not to be beaten, I purchased and installed a new thermocouple. Fully expecting success, I confidently lit it. No go, same exact symptoms as before.

I talked to the fellow that owns the little company I buy gas from, and he asked if the oven and cook stove were operational. When I answered that they are, his opinion was that it wasn't a propane problem.

I adjusted the thermocouple so that it is bathed in flame continuously when it's lit.

So... Anyone have any other thoughts? I am tempted to buy another thermocouple and this time with the pilot light assembly on it.

Thanks in advance,

Aage
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Old 07-19-2011, 05:00 PM   #2
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The connection between the thermocouple and the valve is electrical. Unscrew the connection and be sure that the connections are clean and bright. If that doesn't work the gas valve may be bad. They're fairly cheap and easy to replace.
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Old 07-19-2011, 06:57 PM   #3
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Seems a bit hard to believe in a WH so new, but if replacing the thermocouple and the pilot assembly doesn't work, I'm thinking that you may be right: the gas valve block is next.
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Old 07-19-2011, 07:20 PM   #4
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How does the pilot flame look when it is working? There could be a slight blockage in the line or maybe the propane regulator is out of adjustment.
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Old 07-19-2011, 07:46 PM   #5
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Richard,

I can vary it from way yellow to only blue, by sliding the sleeve.

I set it to a bit of yellow at the tip, not because it runs any differently, but because the manual says to set it that way.

One thing I forgot to mention. After I light it, it runs fine, normal noise. Then I close the hatch, and a couple of seconds after doing that it starts to make a stocatto roaring noise. A bit like a machine gun, shooting air.

Does that mean anything?
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Old 07-19-2011, 08:18 PM   #6
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Richard,

One thing I forgot to mention. After I light it, it runs fine, normal noise. Then I close the hatch, and a couple of seconds after doing that it starts to make a stocatto roaring noise. A bit like a machine gun, shooting air.

Does that mean anything?
Aage, when I light mine I quite often get that stacatto roar. And the fire sputters and will not fully light. PO showed me that if I just blow a sharp puff of air into the air intake holes it gets the air flowing and lights right up. (left bottom of the picture next to the hose clamp) Any chance of a blockage in that area? And to make it harder for you, (sorry) the hot water heater in our "brick" home is really a small boiler. We had a lot of trouble with the pilot going out when the gas shut off. Turns out that was "too much" air! Had to put a little duct tape over the inlet to restrict the flow. So.. it sounds a little bit like an air flow issue to me. Wish I could tell you whether too much or too little ...
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Old 07-19-2011, 08:53 PM   #7
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How does the pilot flame look when it is working? There could be a slight blockage in the line or maybe the propane regulator is out of adjustment.
Sorry, I was describing the main heating flame.

The pilot flame looks normal, blue, and surrounds the thermocouple.

If the regulator is the device near the tanks up front, it works fine, since the oven and cook-top work 100%.

If you mean the device that the thermocouple and the pilot light connect to, that is relatively new, purchased in November 2009. I know that doesn't mean that it can't be bad, in fact, it's second on my list of things to replace if replacing the thermocouple and pilot light assembly doesn't work.

And that's where I'm at. :/
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Old 07-20-2011, 09:42 AM   #8
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3 inexpensive things to try. (1) Check the regulator pressure, I believe the water heater uses a lot more gas then the stove or oven. (2) try to notice if the pilot light gets smaller when the main burner lights. (3) Remove and carefully blow out the pilot line and oriface. Good luck!
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Old 07-20-2011, 09:55 AM   #9
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Will it stay running if you leave the access door open?
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Old 07-20-2011, 10:36 AM   #10
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Get a gauge and test the LP line pressure at the water heater, it should be 11". If it's not, adjust the pressure regulator. Everything else may run OK with low pressure but the problem you are having sounds like a low pressure issue.
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Old 07-20-2011, 12:36 PM   #11
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3 inexpensive things to try. (1) Check the regulator pressure, I believe the water heater uses a lot more gas then the stove or oven. (2) try to notice if the pilot light gets smaller when the main burner lights. (3) Remove and carefully blow out the pilot line and oriface. Good luck!
Yes, I want to test the regulator pressure, but so far I can't find a pressure tester around here. Will watch the pilot light re the cooker. Already cleaned the pilot assembly.

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Will it stay running if you leave the access door open?
I haven't left the door open for more than the few minutes while I tested it after firing it up, but I can't be sure the pilot did or did not go out during that time.

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Get a gauge and test the LP line pressure at the water heater, it should be 11". If it's not, adjust the pressure regulator. Everything else may run OK with low pressure but the problem you are having sounds like a low pressure issue.
I can get a new dual-stage regulator here for $60. So far, I can't find anybody sells pressure testers to the public. What are they worth, if you know?

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I'm still thinking I'll get a new block with both the pilot assembly and another new thermocouple. If that doesn't work, then the next step is to replace the main pressure regulator. The one I currently have is the original one, and I can't expect anything that old to still be in perfect operating conditioning.

Thanks to all for your help, I'll post when I find the fix, but let me know if you have any other ideas.
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Old 07-20-2011, 12:47 PM   #12
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I copied this from another thread: Operating pressure for propane is measured in water column and can be tested with a manometer. You can make one for little or nothing. Take a length of clear tubing and attach to a board in a tall skinny U about 18" high. Put some water in the tube. Mark the board in 1 inch increments. When you attach the tubing to the propane supply the supply side will go down and the open end side will go up. The difference between the water levels is water column pressure. Your system should have about 11 inches of water column.

* » * » Manometer

Using a Homemade Manometer
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Old 07-21-2011, 02:22 PM   #13
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I can get a new dual-stage regulator here for $60. So far, I can't find anybody sells pressure testers to the public. What are they worth, if you know?
Aage any RV dealer can order a manometer for you. Atlas trailer products sells them for $54.90 dealer cost.
I highly doubt the gas pressure is the problem. More than likely your air flow is blocked somehow.
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Old 07-21-2011, 02:37 PM   #14
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Aage any RV dealer can order a manometer for you. Atlas trailer products sells them for $54.90 dealer cost.
I highly doubt the gas pressure is the problem. More than likely your air flow is blocked somehow.
Interesting, Chris. I inspected and removed a bit of blockage from the pilot light nozzle, way back in this process, I replaced the thermocouple. My next step I was about to do (today) was to buy a new thermocouple / pilot light assembly and replace them both to remove any doubt of their ability.

Where else should I look for blocks in the airflow?
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