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Need help.. water heater pilot and burner keeps cutting off.

So I've been without a functioning water heater for a bit now I can't seem to get this one running again.     I have gone through the standard procedure for lighting the pilot,   and once done it stays lit.    However as soon as I start to turn up the temperature control knob to engage the burner it will ignite with a nice satisfying woosh and then just fade out and die within a second or two (pilot AND burner).  
Unfortunately it's one of those closed burner chamber ones so I don't know if I can go poking around with my multimeter.   Any suggestions? 


  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,649
    Sounds like it's starved for gas. Is the shutoff fully opened? Any other valves in the line that might be partially closed? Regulator failing? Bill paid?
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,742
    Is it the older style with a knob for temp on the front and a knob on the top for on/off/pilot or is it one of the newer fancy ones with the blinky lights?
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
    Sounds like a bad regulator. Propane or natural gas? Either way, call your utility company or gas supplier and have them check their regulator.
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,335
    Hi, It sounds like you have an FVIR heater. These have air inlet screens that need to be cleaned. Dust will build up on the screen and starve the burner of oxygen. Try cleaning the screen and see if it helps.

    Yours, Larry
  • AtmanGotango
    AtmanGotango Member Posts: 2
    Hello.   Yes it is the older style with the two knobs

    I believe it is natural gas.    For what it is worth,  everything else that uses gas in the condo is working.    And when the burner kicks on,   you can hear that ignition woosh and see some pretty good flame through the window but then it just dissipates like the flow of gas or air just isn't enough.     Actually..... if I get it started and it peters out I usually can't get the pilot to restart unless I let it rest a while (usually a few hours before I try again) so I'm starting to think that something is impeding the flow of air....  but there are perforations around the bottom of the tank where combustion happens presumably to let air in...

    If this helps its a 40gal.  GE smart water. Water heater.    
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
    Do you have to push in a button to get a spark for the pilot light to start....some grills or stove top burners have this feature.

    If so you have the FVIR heater. Changes made some years ago required the firebox to be enclosed with a screen to avoid lighting the can of gas you spill near the heater.

    Go on line with the model number and find the operating manual. It will tell you how to clean that screen.
    That may fix it....if not then it needed cleaning anyway. Homeowner should be able to do this...I think.
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,863
    If the pilot lights but  main burner ignition is strong enough to put the pilot out, it needs to be checked by a pro. There is a problem with gas pressure, delivery through the burner, flue passage in the water heater, or chimney draft.
    I think it's safe to say its past DIY.

  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,335
    Hi, I've been doing a little research and here's a link: https://www.rheem.com/water-heating/articles/what-is-fvir/ to Rheem, who is a maker of GE. Their FVIR system is different in that instead of a screen, it has a plate that blocks air flow if the combustion chamber overheats. I'd see if there is any possibility that it has tripped. Older Rheem tanks had a glass vial that would break when it got hot, and you had to replace the entire heater. They have since changed the approach, but it might be best to contact Rheem support to see if they will walk you through the steps here.

    Yours, Larry