Bradford White Power Vent Water Heater Won't Stay Lit

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willard f

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Hello, My 13yr old Bradford White Power Vent Water Heater will not stay lit. The problem showed up a few weeks ago and has been intermittent since then. The Water Heater thermostat will call for heat. The igniter will glow, the flame will appear, the burner will fire up. The flame is mostly blue and what I would call strong. Then after a few minutes (around 5 or 6 at most) it will shut down prior to satisfying the thermostat. The cycle will restart and attempt to finish satisfying the thermostat. It would usually successfully satisfy the desired temperature on the second or third try.

- I removed the burner assembly and vacuumed out the burner area. It did not fix the issue.
- I tried cleaning the flame sensor. It did not fix the issue.
- I swapped in a brand new flame sensor / igniter. It did not fix the issue.

Then I looked up and noticed the PVC vent pipe had come undone (I'm guessing the cement just failed after all these years). I figured this must be the problem. I cut out the affected area of PVC pipe and installed identical new PVC (using proper Primer and Cement). The problem appeared to be resolved as for the next two days it appeared to run like a champ.

But now, the problem has resurfaced and progressively gotten worse. The cycle will usually still operate as intended upon calling for heat. The igniter will glow, the flame will appear, the burner will fire up. The flame is mostly blue and strong. However, it will only run for about 1 minute at most before going out and attempting the cycle over again. When it cuts out, sometimes it struggles to relight and I can hear what sounds like the pressure switch clicking rapidly.

Not sure if this is an issue with the pressure switch, blower, thermostat or something else. Maybe somehow a clogged vent pipe (though the vent pipe goes up and exits through an elbow on the roof so I'm guessing it's unlikely). I would get on the roof and check it out but we have been going through an arctic freeze here in the midwest and I am not dumb enough ( close! but not quite :/ ) to get up on the roof with all the ice and whatnot.

Long story short: The manual I found online (which appears to be for my model) says - If you are getting insufficient hot water with water heater lighting correctly but only operating for a few minutes and shutting down before thermostat is satisfied then it could be the following:

- Excessive vent length or partially blocked vent - (It worked flawlessly for 13 years so I'm guessing the length is fine. Maybe blocked?)
- High vent temperature - (The PVC pipe feels hot but I was able to hold my hand on it for the length of a 5+ minute cycle... so it's NOT THAT HOT.)
- Blower assembly is not performing at full capacity. Pressure switch not closing due to insufficient blower capacity. - (Blower sounds strong to me, but what do I know.)

I searched online for an identical pressure switch as I would try replacing it and see if it fixed the issue but the one I have appears to be discontinued. Not sure at all how identical these need to be but I assume they must be precisely the same.

I posted some photos below to give you a better picture of the situation. Any and all help would be appreciated as some of the plumbers I've called simply say they won't touch a system after it's 10yrs old and suggest I buy a new water heater. I feel that someone who refuses to come out and diagnose my old unit and rather recommends over the phone I buy a new unit for $1700 prior to even seeing my old one is somehow trying to screw me over.

Sorry for the long post! Thanks for reading!
 

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J cous

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Hello, My 13yr old Bradford White Power Vent Water Heater will not stay lit. The problem showed up a few weeks ago and has been intermittent since then. The Water Heater thermostat will call for heat. The igniter will glow, the flame will appear, the burner will fire up. The flame is mostly blue and what I would call strong. Then after a few minutes (around 5 or 6 at most) it will shut down prior to satisfying the thermostat. The cycle will restart and attempt to finish satisfying the thermostat. It would usually successfully satisfy the desired temperature on the second or third try.

- I removed the burner assembly and vacuumed out the burner area. It did not fix the issue.
- I tried cleaning the flame sensor. It did not fix the issue.
- I swapped in a brand new flame sensor / igniter. It did not fix the issue.

Then I looked up and noticed the PVC vent pipe had come undone (I'm guessing the cement just failed after all these years). I figured this must be the problem. I cut out the affected area of PVC pipe and installed identical new PVC (using proper Primer and Cement). The problem appeared to be resolved as for the next two days it appeared to run like a champ.

But now, the problem has resurfaced and progressively gotten worse. The cycle will usually still operate as intended upon calling for heat. The igniter will glow, the flame will appear, the burner will fire up. The flame is mostly blue and strong. However, it will only run for about 1 minute at most before going out and attempting the cycle over again. When it cuts out, sometimes it struggles to relight and I can hear what sounds like the pressure switch clicking rapidly.

Not sure if this is an issue with the pressure switch, blower, thermostat or something else. Maybe somehow a clogged vent pipe (though the vent pipe goes up and exits through an elbow on the roof so I'm guessing it's unlikely). I would get on the roof and check it out but we have been going through an arctic freeze here in the midwest and I am not dumb enough ( close! but not quite :/ ) to get up on the roof with all the ice and whatnot.

Long story short: The manual I found online (which appears to be for my model) says - If you are getting insufficient hot water with water heater lighting correctly but only operating for a few minutes and shutting down before thermostat is satisfied then it could be the following:

- Excessive vent length or partially blocked vent - (It worked flawlessly for 13 years so I'm guessing the length is fine. Maybe blocked?)
- High vent temperature - (The PVC pipe feels hot but I was able to hold my hand on it for the length of a 5+ minute cycle... so it's NOT THAT HOT.)
- Blower assembly is not performing at full capacity. Pressure switch not closing due to insufficient blower capacity. - (Blower sounds strong to me, but what do I know.)

I searched online for an identical pressure switch as I would try replacing it and see if it fixed the issue but the one I have appears to be discontinued. Not sure at all how identical these need to be but I assume they must be precisely the same.

I posted some photos below to give you a better picture of the situation. Any and all help would be appreciated as some of the plumbers I've called simply say they won't touch a system after it's 10yrs old and suggest I buy a new water heater. I feel that someone who refuses to come out and diagnose my old unit and rather recommends over the phone I buy a new unit for $1700 prior to even seeing my old one is somehow trying to screw me over.

Sorry for the long post! Thanks for reading!

did you find a solution? I am having a very similar issue.
 
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