Bradford White Defender / gas water heater tripping

Discussion in 'HVAC Heating & Cooling' started by spr, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. spr

    spr New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Hi. I poked around and see some resonable advice, so thought I would throw this out there.

    I have a Bradford White Defender Water Heater. Gas. 40 Gal. Problem - recently, the thermal switch keeps tripping. Very, very annoying. Probably once every few weeks.

    Factoids:

    * It is in a small location.. a 10x10 (maybe) room with no ventilation. Located about 2' from the water boiler for the house and just as close to a washer dryer. In the suimmer, this room gets warm... 75-80? but we keep the door open.

    * I stuck a small fan at floor level near the unit. I do not think it has tripped if this fan is running.

    * Installation guidelines are fairly lienient with respect to close clearence on all sides, and I do not think this is (according to spec) is something I can point to as a cause. I think it can breathe OK.

    The manual describes 3 different 'colors' on these resettable switches... with RED being the one that has the highest temperature tripping point. (I think 190' F). That is the switch installed on this unit. I have a hard time believing that switch is getting that hot, but I could be wrong.

    So .. my question:

    Anyone ever heard of problems with these units or switches? I have seen nothing really. I am contemplating ordering a replacement switch - but something is telling me it will make no difference. I certainly do not want to have to have a desk fan blowing on my water heater to keep it running.

    It is in the basement. Shared venting with boiler... which of course isnt running since its summer.


    Any comments appreciated. Thanks.

    Steve
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2008
  2. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Being in a room with a dryer is not the best possible scenario for a FVIR water heater.

    I would recommend having a plumber out to inspect the unit and clean the air inlet screen.

    It is also possible that there has been a flamable vapor incident in which case the water heater should be replaced.

    From the pages of Bradford-Whites Website
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2008
  3. spr

    spr New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Thanks for the reply.

    I did have someone come out and check it. 'Its fine'. They didnt seem to have any suggestions beyond replacing the unit - which is crazy in the extreme. (methinks I need to call someone else)

    Regarding dirt, cleaning etc... this thing is still squeaky clean. no dustballs or dirt or junk of any kind.

    Our old water heater never did this. Im a little eager to blame it on the entire vapor lock thing. The more electronics they cram into these things, the faster they break it seems.

    ------

    (yeah, I could be dead from carbon monoxide.. but thats entirely beside the point. ;-) )
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2008
  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    The FVIR situation is a different ball game. I hope the fan you mentioned is blowing IN. Having a dryer running on a room with inadequate combustion air supply , could cause a problem.

    A closed room should have fresh air inlet of about 1 square inch for every 4000 BTU of gas burning. Add up the WH, the furnace, and the dryer. And you need TWO of such inlets, one near the floor and one near the ceiling.
  5. spr

    spr New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Yeah, you know... is screamingly obvious when you say it, but I um... didnt think about the dryer being a contributor here. I bet it is enough to tip the balance.

    With the door open there *should* be plenty of ventilation, provided the wife isnt piling up laundry right in front of the WH which I have seen.. and it makes me crazy.

    so this brings another question.

    Lets assume I dont have enough air.
    I like the gas dryer... though we are very close to buying a new washer/dryer combo. Perhaps I should consider switching to electric if the newer WH's are so touchy about the location that I have it.

    This is all starting to make sense. about 900ft^3 in that little room, but I bet we loose 1/3 of that since there is so much stuff in there (boiler, W&D, WH, & 'stuff').. so lets guess 525ft^3. Water heater is 40,000BTU/HR per spec, Burhnam boiler likely more than that though it has not been running during the summer. The old...(Old, Old) dryer I bet is sucking air too - perhaps moreso as it ages. Altogether lets suppose 100,000 BTU/hr if everything is running (a bald faced guess) which based on 50ft^3 per 1,000 BTU/hr required would be... well an obvious problem.

    **===> Would switching from a gas to an electric dryer help matters significantly in this case?

    Thank you for the feedback.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2008
  6. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
  7. spr

    spr New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Thanks, but I have read the literature on FVIR.

    The resettable thermal switch ('...Proven and reliable bimetallic switch prevents burner and pilot operation in case of ongoing flammable vapor burn inside of the combustion chamber or restricted air flow...') is the issue here I think.

    I am going to go with the restricted air flow supposition based on the location, size of room, cleanliness of the location, lack of extraneous combustable vapors in general etc.

    So again - I pose the question since I am not sure here. Wouldnt an electric dryer rather than a gas one in this location potentially help a borderline situation?

    My only other option would be to change this thing out for a power vented one, which I prefer not to do if it isnt necessary.

    Thanks.
  8. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    I doubt changing to an electric dryer will make a difference....You still have the dryer sucking air and venting to the outside regardless of it being gas or electric.

    Supplying outside air be it make up or combustion will help everything work better.
  9. spr

    spr New Member

    Messages:
    16
    probably.

    As a first step, I am having a chimney service come by and make sure this thing is at least ducted properly and that the chimney is clear.

    Anyone ever seen or heard of a room like this that has a small fresh air exchange unit of some kind? That may solve the problem entirely if there is such an animal... and I dont know how such a thing would behave in the winter. I dont want a sub-zero laundry room either.
  10. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    It is done all the time.
  11. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    How long did it work before you had this problem?

    I'm picturing a FVIR air inlet loaded with lint and dust.
    At least enough to restrict air flow.
  12. spr

    spr New Member

    Messages:
    16
    I believe the unit is about 3 years old. No lint or dust whatever. Most I have talked to immediately point to that same thing.

    I think it shut down once or twice in the first couple of years and wrote it off as caused by heaps of laundry piled nearby, but the problem seems to be getting worse even though that situation no longer exists. As I said, it is tripping about once a month now and I have not studied the problem sufficiently to be able to pinpoint the cause, though the very old dryer is a likely contributor. A tiny desk fan blowing 6" off the floor towards the front of the WH may be helping, but Im unsure.

    We will see what the 'chimney guy' says and then go from there I guess.
  13. spr

    spr New Member

    Messages:
    16
    note..From the service manual:

    "How the safety System Works" / (Bradford White Defender)

    During normal operation, air for combustion is drawn into the water heater through the openings in the jacket. This air travels down and around the combustion chamber and enters through holes in the very bottom of the corrosion-resistant combustion chamber. The air then travels up through the oriented flame arrestor plate louvers, where the velocity of the air is
    increased and its direction altered. The air then mixes in a normal manner with supplied gas and is efficiently combusted, producing very low NOx emissions. In the unlikely event trace amounts of flammable vapors are present in the air flowing into the combustion chamber, the vapors are harmlessly ignited by the burner / pilot flame. If flammable vapors are in sufficient quantity to prevent normal combustion, the burner / pilot flame is shut down. Should the flammable vapors continue to burn, the flame arrestor plate prevents the flames from traveling backwards and igniting vapors outside of the combustion chamber. The calibrated, multipurpose thermal switch recognizes this and shuts down the pilot and main burner. This switch also deactivates the burner and pilot in the unlikely event of restricted airflow caused by severe lint, dust or oil accumulation on the arrestor plate. If accumulation occurs, the ScreenLok flame arrestor can be easily cleaned and when the inner door is properly secured the unit can then be placed in operation. A cleaning procedure is included in this service manual.
  14. spr

    spr New Member

    Messages:
    16
  15. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,460
    Location:
    MD
    You might try Googling

    "Bradford White Defender" class action
    or
    "Bradford White Defender" recall
    or
    "Bradford White Defender" v.
    or
    "Bradford White Defender" intermittent
  16. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    "Bradford White Defender" class action, brought no relevent hits. The only pages that came up were mentioning Whirlpools Class Action on a page that also mentioned Bradford White. The 2 are unrelated.

    The Bradford White recalls are:http://www.bradfordwhite.com/safety.asp

    A defective Robert Shaw gas valve #R-110. The recalled valves were manufactured between July 25, 2005 and August 14, 2005.

    And for 1,220 75 gallon powervent models Bradford White Corporation sold these water heaters to plumbing supply wholesalers from April 2002 to May 2002.

    "Bradford White Defender" intermittent brought no relevent hits....

    The skinny of it is your unit has a problem that needs repairing of replacing.
    Bradford White makes a damn good water heater and IMHO is probably the best FVIR water heater made.
  17. spr

    spr New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Yeah, I have seen no mention of this being a product quality problem. I did my homework and thats specifically why we replaced out old stuff with Bradford White (WH) and a Burnham (Boiler).

    I will report back after venting inspection and (I anticipate) unit arrestor plate exam/cleaning.

    Thanks all... appreciate the feedback.
  18. spr

    spr New Member

    Messages:
    16
    note:

    Arrestor plate and air flow:

    [​IMG]
  19. spr

    spr New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Follow up: I opened it to clean out any dust on the arrestor plate etc.

    Could this have been the problem? Something foreign was in there. At first I thought it was a pen, but it was medium guage metal. No idea what or where this thing came from.

    Its not enough to restrict air flow, but perhaps whatever it was burning in there was a problem? Regardless, cleaned it out and put it back together. Took all of 10 minutes.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  20. spr

    spr New Member

    Messages:
    16
    3 more...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
Similar Threads: Bradford White
Forum Title Date
HVAC Heating & Cooling Comparing 3 Thermostats White-Rodgers, Lux and Jackson Jun 8, 2013
HVAC Heating & Cooling Replace White-Rodgers IF92 Tstat with new Honeywell VisionPro Jun 23, 2010
HVAC Heating & Cooling White-Rogers Thermostat to Hunter 44660 Dec 7, 2008
HVAC Heating & Cooling White Rodgers 13a02-102 May 30, 2008
HVAC Heating & Cooling White Rodgers 535 Limit Switch Replacement Apr 14, 2008

Share This Page