Bradford White Defender pillot keeps going out

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by tucker1a485, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. tucker1a485

    tucker1a485 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    NH
    I have a bradford white defender water heater. The pilot goes out intermittantly. The thermocouple has been replaced, the screen has been cleaned and everything was adjusted, yet it still keeps going out, sometimes it will stay lit for a day or two but most times it goes out within a half hour or so. I thought the thermal reset switch was to blame seeing how it is always popped out, but after removing it and very crudely testing on the stove it seems to be good ( it is supposed to shut off at 270 degrees and it went to 250 and beyond before popping out so I assuming its good). What could be causing it to get so hot, or is something else I am missing here. I all can think of is improper venting of the exhaust causing the hot gases to build up and to make it get too hot. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks you in advance.
  2. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Have you downloaded the service manual for your model yet?

    When the unit is heating see if smoke is drawn to the vent hood to check draft.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,288
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    IF the thermal switch is popping out, then you DO have something overheating the combustion chamber, and we cannot diagnose it from here. I hope you don't have a can of gasoline setting next to the water heater, because that is what is supposed to trip the switch.
  4. tucker1a485

    tucker1a485 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    NH
    No there is no flammable vapors anywhere near it. I have sat down there and watched it trip the flame didn't change color or change in size or anything. It just lit up, stayed lit, then the switch popped and it shut off. Smoke isn't exactly drawn to it, but when you put the smoke right next to it, almost under the vent, it does go up it.
  5. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    How is the replacement air to the room? Is there enough?
  6. tucker1a485

    tucker1a485 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    NH
    It's in a basement that is about 20' by 40'. It's right next to another water heater and two boilers (which obviously aren't running right now). I would think there would be plenty of air down there. I just can't think of why it would be overheating. Could it be possible that when it got adjusted the technician turned the flame up too high causing it to create too much heat too quickly?
  7. tucker1a485

    tucker1a485 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    NH
    Okay, update. I thought after it got adjusted the flames were blue, but upon looking closer (laying all the way on the ground craning to see through the sight glass) I can see the tips are still yellow. So I took off the door and adjusted the air shutter nut per the service manuals instructions and I could not get the yellow tips to go away. It says yellow flame is caused by too little air, but even with the air shutter nut all the way open it's still yellow, and mind you this is with the inner door open so I could adjust the shutter, allowing for plenty of combutstion air to get in even if the screen was clogged, which it isn't because it has been cleaned. I don't get how it could still be yellow. But at least I feel like I've gotten somewhere, even though I haven't. Oh yeah and even the pilot flame, on all by itself is a little yellow. Is it possible that the gas pressure got turned up too high? Because I know you can adjust that too. I wouldn't think so because Eastern Propane, the guys who adjusted it, seem knowledgable. Although when I pointed out that the expansion tank was installed on the wrong line, they insisted that expansion tanks are supposed to be installed on the hot line. Had to show them the instructions. So who knows.
  8. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,344
    Location:
    New England
    Gas appliances generally come with the jets for natural gas. Are you sure that yours has the jets for propane? They are much smaller, and the regulator normally needs to be changed as well. You could have a unit configured for NG, and not propane. It would run hot (and the flame would be quite a bit larger than design). If the thing was not bought specifically for propane, or they didn't install all of the parts for the conversion, it would be a big problem.
  9. tucker1a485

    tucker1a485 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    NH
    No this is installed for propane. It has been installed since 2007 I think. Working fine up til a few weeks ago.
  10. tucker1a485

    tucker1a485 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    NH
    Fixed

    Another quick update for anyone who has the water heater and is having these problems. I put a fan blowing on it from about 5 or 6 feet away, in case it wasn't getting enough combustion air, and now it is working fine. The flame still looks identical, with yellow tips, but it's working. Maybe the positive air pressure is making it so the exhaust gases are going up the flue quicker, who knows. I don't care I'm moving next month and this will work till then. Thanks to everyone that replied.
  11. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Sounds more like working but not fixed to me....
  12. tucker1a485

    tucker1a485 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    NH
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2010
  13. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    Yellow flames almost certainly mean carbon monoxide. So hopefully your "fix" doesn't get you dead if you ever have flue gas spillage.

    You should do a draft test on the flue if you can.

    The most crude way is once the venting has had a chance to warm up hold a lighter up to the draft hood and see if the flame is drawn into the flue (as it should be). If it's not or the lighter's flame is snuffed out you can blame the venting.

    However if you're getting yellow flames they aren't waving around too badly you can be almost certain you aren't getting enough primary air mixed with the gas prior to ignition.


    1. You are not getting enough primary air, and secondary air is lacking too most likely.
  14. tucker1a485

    tucker1a485 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    NH
    I don't understand how it wouldn't be getting enough air. I mean thats what I thought too, yellow flame, not enough air. But the screen has been cleaned, I adjusted the air shuttter nut to full open, and even had the door off while it was running for awhile, still yellow flames. The flames are a bit wavy, but not too bad. I put a lighter up to the draft hood and it looked like it was drawn up the hood, kinda hard to tell, the lighter had a small flame so it couldn't really be drawn in any direction very much. What is the difference between primary and secondary air?
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