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Old 02-19-2003, 07:02 PM   #1
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Difficult Hot Water Lighting

Hello. It seems to take forever to light my hot water heater. I have taken to turning the blue dial to pilot and then just sitting there a while, holding it open, until my hand gets tired and then trying to light it. It tries to light, spits and sputters and finally gets a stream of propane going that is sufficient to light a pilot that will stay lit for the 40 sec needed. Has anyone any suggestion as to the cause of and the solution to the problem. I sort of think that while we are gone, two to four weeks, condensation develops along the line and has to be blown out by the pressure of the gas before it will light.

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Old 02-19-2003, 07:31 PM   #2
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Joan, once you get the thermocouple hot enough, the main gas valve will open to the main burner, and it will light. The 40 second delay is for safety, to prevent a large amount of gas building up enough for an explosion. Sore fingers are better than dead fingers. Using a butane grill/campfire lighter instead of matches. Wally-World has a pack of two for $3.49.
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Old 02-19-2003, 08:24 PM   #3
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Difficult Hot Water Lighting

Greetings Joan!

Two thoughts on possible issues that might cause your pilot lighting problem. The first is the possibility that an insect may be part of the cause - - spiders seem to love building their nests inside the air mixture tube, and this causes the pilot to either be difficult to light or if it lights the burner runs so rich that black soot covers the exhaust of the water heater (the tube can be carefully removed and cleaned with a small, soft bottle brush; and then replaced on the water heater). A second possibility, if this happens primarily after a period of not being used, especially if the propane has been turned off at the main tank valves, it may be air in the lines - - one way that I deal with this on my Overlander is to light all four burners on the range and wait for their flames to stabilize before I try lighting any of my other LP appliances.

It is also a possibility that the burner may need cleaning and adjustment.

Good luck in finding the source of your difficulty.

Kevin D. Allen
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Old 02-23-2003, 03:48 PM   #4
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On older water heaters I have used a butane fire lighter with the long tube and just held it under the thermocouple until the main burner will light. The opening of the gas valve is sufficent to purge the lines of air. It may not be the safest way, but it works.
Brett G
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Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. -- Plato

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