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Old 01-22-2015, 11:00 PM   #1
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1979 31' Sovereign
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Gas Water Heater - Main burner releasing gas without pilot

I live in my trailer full time, have for about 2 years.

The issue I'm about to describe has happened twice.

I was gone for a day or two and when I came home, I opened the trailer door to be hit by a strong gas smell. The entire 31' trailer.
I check the water heater to find that the knob was in the "ON" position, the pilot burner was no longer burning, and the main burner was open and pouring out gas.

Thought it was a fluke, it had been very windy and once in a while the pilot does get blown out, but the main gas has never come on and just ran like that.

Tonight while in the shower, halfway through I notice the gas smell. Same thing as before. Pilot burner no longer lit, main gas burner open and pouring gas. Only it's not windy tonight.

Is my thermocouple bad?
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Old 01-22-2015, 11:23 PM   #2
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After discovering the pouring gas the second time, I re-lit it to run its cycle.

After starting this thread I went out and checked, the pilot was out again. Gas wasn't running, but the water was still plenty hot and thermo wasn't calling for heat.
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Old 01-22-2015, 11:25 PM   #3
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No, I believe your gas valve is bad.

To prevent just what is happening the sequence of lighting is to hold down a button or turn the gas valve (depending on the specifics of the valve) and hold it while lighting the pilot light. That pilot flame hits the thermocouple and generates a very small amount of electric power which holds the valve open. When you release the button or allow the spring loaded valve to go back in place the opening remains open. If the pilot light goes out, that small electrical power is lost and the valve snaps shut. Thus, no gas can flow unless the pilot light is operating. That is the safety system built into the gas valves. A second separate valve is controlled by the thermostat to regulate the temperature.

With a bad thermocouple the pilot light will not stay on to begin with. So the problem is that the valve that the thermocouple is supposed to control, is not being controlled. Yours is allowing gas to pass with or without the pilot flame operating.

This is a serious safety issue. If it is the original water heater, it is now 35 years old. Replace it with a new one before you have a fire or explosion.

If you get a new heater you also can get one with an electronic ignition, and eliminate the pilot light system altogether. It is very nice to turn the water heater on with a switch inside, rather than going outside to light it. But you also can still get the original pilot light type if you want one.
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Old 01-23-2015, 12:09 AM   #4
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Idroba is correct. Do NOT fiddle with this... it would be tragic to lose you and/or your AS...
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Old 01-23-2015, 12:33 PM   #5
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This just recently happened to me with a water heater that was less than 5 years old. It is in your best interest to replace the entire water heater as you can most likely pick one up on Amazon.com or the like for just about the cost of a new valve and the time to replace it. Replacing the water heater itself is very straight-forward.
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Old 01-24-2015, 01:00 AM   #6
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I appreciate yalls input.

Why not just replace the valve?

Valves are 80-100.

A new waterheater starts at 300 and and go up from there.
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Old 01-24-2015, 07:35 AM   #7
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I would go for repair if possible before replacing the entire unit. Replacing the valve is an easy job for a professional tech. As you said, under $100 for a new valve.
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Old 01-24-2015, 08:21 AM   #8
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You must decide if it's worth replacing the valve in a older water heater as you maybe will be trowing your money out the door if the heater is not in really good condition,you said you live in the trailer so the old one has had more use then someone using there trailer seasonally .

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Old 01-24-2015, 10:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gasgano1979 View Post
I appreciate yalls input.

Why not just replace the valve?

Valves are 80-100.

A new waterheater starts at 300 and and go up from there.
The water heater is 35 years old. The tanks are made of aluminum and corrode over time. The valves and thermostats are not easy to get out and replace as they tend to corrode over time. It often takes a special tool to do it. Nothing lasts forever.
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Old 01-24-2015, 10:53 AM   #10
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If I was intent on keeping that water heater I would replace the thermocouple and the valve.


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Old 01-24-2015, 12:39 PM   #11
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My guess is also the valve is shot and working intermittently.

Maybe 35 years ago this was not done, but the water heater should be isolated from the trailer interior so that propane gas does not collect inside if there is a failure in the water heater. If I opened the door and smelled gas, I'd turn off the propane at the tanks, leave the door open as the gas came out (propane is heavier than air and flows down). I'd also look after the interior was clear to see if the propane could have seeped into the water holding tanks underneath. There should be access plates underneath to open and let any gas out. I'd also check for gas in closets, under the bed and in the cabinets. I'd be very, very careful about sparks.

I'd rather spend less too, but propane is dangerous and the water heater is old and in dog years would be 245. I know it is not a dog, but it is old in water heater years too.

You can get a dual fuel (propane and electric) water heater now. If you have cheap electricity, that may make sense over time. The new ones don't have to be lit with a match as they have electronic ignition.

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Old 01-24-2015, 01:33 PM   #12
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Ok, I reckon I'll replace the whole unit.

I've known it's not original to the trailer.(trailer is a 1979)
If I've found the proper date code, it's a 1992.

It's a model G6A-7 by Atwood.

Are from what little I've had time to read they should all be universal, correct?

Should be able to buy just any atwood 6gal and expect it to fit with no modifications or accessories?

Are tankless water heaters worth the extra money and how easy is it to convert?

Once again, I appreciate ya'lls input.
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Old 01-24-2015, 03:06 PM   #13
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Never assume another model by the same manufacturer is the same size. Measure the one you have and then measure it again (never assume you got a measurement right the 1st time). Check the specs of new ones online. See if the 10 gal. one fits if you want more hot water at one time.

There have been threads on tankless water heaters. I recall Lewster checked one brand out a couple of years ago and he didn't care for it. My thought is they may be better for someone who lives in it fulltime, but I don't really know. I think they need a pretty large vent and there may not be space to install one. Use the advanced search function to find those threads. Find the one by Lewster since he is a professional and knows what he is talking about.

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Old 01-24-2015, 04:04 PM   #14
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Gee, I just realized I'm 504 years old in dog years. Sal
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