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I have a customer that goes on a lot of trips and she's very conservative with fuel. She turns her water heater to pilot while she's gone and sometimes forgets to turn it back on when she returns. When she first uses the hot water, it's SCALDING. The water heater is only 6 months old and I've called Bradford-White with the problem and they say:
The heat from the pilot is greater than the stand-by loss of the water heater. It naturally overheats after a few days.
This one is hard to understand for me and the home owner. I've turned my water heater to pilot, come home from vacation and turned the control off pilot and WHOOSH, the burner comes on.
P.S. On my last visit, I turned the water heater to pilot, kind of expecting the burner to come on, but no, it didn't.