Friday, February 27, 2015

Let me rage about hot water heater designs

Our hot water heater, after nine years of unremarkable service, suddenly stopped producing hot water.  The son-in-law of someone from church is an HVAC tech.  He found the thermocouple had failed, and replaced it.  Today the problem was the pilot had gone out, and following instructions on the side were of no use.  You hold the pilot button down for a minute, while sticking a lighter into a very dark hole, theoretically in which is the pilot light.  I could not seeany lit pilot.  The HVAC guy showed me where to look to see the pilot light which was on.  Why is this so hard?  A minute!  Is this lawsuit output?

UPDATE: I called Bradford-White technical support and they said they weren't allowed to tell me anything but read the label.  Not even how far in the pilot light is located.  Lawyers are ruining this country.


  1. I was trying to do the same thing with my brother for his waterheater about three years ago. Is your waterheater in a box with an outside door? His was, and it turned out we couldn't see the pilot light because of glare.

  2. There's a thermocouple that senses the pilot light state, and which also controls the gas valve. If it doesn't sense sufficient heat - as in "no pilot light" - it won't allow the valve to open and flow gas, even to the pilot light. It also shuts down all gas flow if the pilot light goes out. This is to prevent a flow of natural gas or propane when it cannot be ignited and burned normally. Otherwise gas could accumulate and lead to an explosion.

    The one minute hold-down is a manual override to allow gas flow while the pilot light heats that thermocouple. I'm guessing that was the thermocouple your friend's SIL replaced.