Intermittent Intellivent/Powershot problems: gas HWH fails to stay on sometimes

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by browncow, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. browncow

    browncow New Member

    Messages:
    2
    We have a 25 month old A.O. Smith PowerShot. Works nicely. Most of the time.

    Sometimes, the LEDs on the front indicate "System in Lockout" (according to the manual). After a few resets, and/or a few hours, the problem fixes itself.

    The manual gives four possible reasons for the specific LED error code (error code 6): 1) Gas supply is too low, 2) hot surface ignitor not positioned correctly, 3) Low voltage to the water heater, and 4) electric polarity to unit is incorrect.

    We can power cycle the unit to clear the lockout state, and sometimes it fixes itself, but usually fails to stay on after three tries, then goes back into lockout. Each time it tries, I see the ignitor glow... I see the blue flame appear, but kind of a wavering flame (it's a low NOx burner, I think), and then the gas supply shuts off. When it gets into this state, it takes a few hours for it to recover. Eventually, things will work again.

    I checked the manual for the A.O. Powershot and the Intellivent Control Information document. The flowchart for Intellivent operation suggests that a failure at this point means it is not detecting flame. I see there are exact measurements for the position of the flame sensor, but I do not happen to have a caliper on me.

    I could understand that there might be a problem with the flame sensor, but why would it be sporadic? Why does it appear to get better after a few hours?

    Could the "waviness" of the flame indicate a dislodged flue adapter, as suggested in the IV troublshooting guide (the guide suggests this would suck the flame away from the flame sensor, leading to my problem)?

    BTW: we have a "Gas log" in our fireplace that works just fine, so I tend to trust the municipal supply

    Also, I tried tweaking the gas manifold pressure tap on the IV (the one on the bottom, nearest the flame... there was one on top but it would not budge, or else I am just a weak sissy). Loosening or tightening this screw did not change anything.
  2. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Pull the burner assy. and clean the flame sensor...many times this is the problem...and yes a "wavey" flame could possibly cause it...
  3. kingsotall

    kingsotall Plunger/TurdPuncher

    While I am not siding with you on the "sissy" part, I would suggest leaving the control alone as then we are in need of a technician thats qualified.
  4. browncow

    browncow New Member

    Messages:
    2
    thank you, I will give that a try.
  5. GrantK

    GrantK New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Sensor

    Cass, thanks for the advice. I've got another question, the power vent motor on top of my unit will get very hot to the touch, hotter than I would think it should get. Is this normal? Can the motor being going (6+ years old) and cause a vent system code error? thanks...
  6. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,460
    Location:
    MD
    repair/replace

    This heater has lasted longer than 96% of gas WHs. Either it's great and you should keep it, or it's about to have "multiple organ failure".
  7. GrantK

    GrantK New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Longevity

    I'm confused, are you saying that 6 years is GOOD for a AO Smith Power Vent water heater?
  8. Smiths are junk

    all smiths are basically junk.

    especially their low quality power vent models...


    if it is only 25 months old, it will most likely nickle and dime you to death till the tank warrnanty runs out..

    I know of many folks that have puts hundreds into the units, to only see the tank expire and leak at 6 years a few month old.....

    beat them to the punch and just claim its leaking and get it changed out before you sink too much into it.
  9. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,460
    Location:
    MD
  10. SavageCruiser

    SavageCruiser New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Kansas
    We are having this same problem. The house is 3 1/2 years old. If you shut the switch off on the wall and turn it back on the heater works for maybe two days.

    We have had AB MAY come out in August and they said that the problem was a gas control valve replaced it. $700.00

    They came back out today and couldn't figure it out the guy replaced the vent still samething. Parts $9.00 Labor $300.00 $309.00

    This did not fix the problem so they called AO Smith and AO Smith gave them a checklist to go through. They called me and said it would be an additional $700 to go through the checklist.

    We have spent $1009.00 with AB May and they want another $700 to figure out what is wrong. I am at a loss I think we are more $$ into this than it is worth. What do you experts think?
  11. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Clean the flame sensor!
  12. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    2 votes for cleaning the flame sensor.
  13. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,460
    Location:
    MD
    http://www.ripoffreport.com/
  14. Dan Roose

    Dan Roose New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    This is how I fixed mine

    I have the exact same Hot Water heater mentioned in this thread and was experiencing the exact same problems described intermittent hot water error code 6 etc... I tried re-routing the electricity to its own breaker, replaced the starter and heating rod all to no avail. Today after reading this thread I decided to check my heating sensor to see if it was dirty. I noticed that it was not dirty but was not fully in the flame so I took it out and repositioned it to be within the flame. Ever since I have had hot water with no errors! I would recommend anyone with this very frustrating hot water heater do the same!

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 26, 2011
  15. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,817
    Location:
    New England
    Sensors only work when they are: connected properly, relatively clean, and positioned where they are supposed to be to sense what they are designed for. Then, the device that reads and interprets them must also be connected and working. Some of this can be determined soley by good observation, but some takes some diagnostic knowledge and tools. But, the first thing is to read the instructions to try to understand what is supposed to be happening, then take a close look at things to see if there is anything obvious. Those two things often can resolve a problem.
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