Rheem PowerVent Issues - Help!

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by BurnedOut, Jan 1, 2014.

  1. BurnedOut

    BurnedOut New Member

    Jan 1, 2014

    I just happened across this site and I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction. I have a six-year-old Rheem PowerVent (42VP40F) gas water heater that stopped working a couple of months ago. I called Rheem and they supposedly diagnosed the problem as a faulty igniter assembly. A few hundred bucks later for the new part and install and it seemed to be working again...until it went out again a week later. Sometimes I can temporarily fix the problem by switching off the blower, unplugging it and plugging it back in and turning it on, but it doesn't seem to respond to even that now.

    Below is some information on the error code and what the manual says; any help with recommendations would be greatly appreciated! The master plumber who installed the new igniter assembly didn't seem to follow any of the steps outlined in the troubleshooting manual (listed below), and I know very little about water heaters, so I'm at a loss. I am fine with paying a professional to fix the problem, but I want to make sure he/she is performing the right fix so this doesn't happen again. THANK YOU in advance for any information!

    The PowerVent Thermostat Control valve is displaying this error code, if it makes sense:

    ▼ A B C
    • O O X X O

    In the troubleshooting guide, it says the following:

    "The maximum number of ignition retries or recycles has
    been reached and the system is in lockout. (This means
    there was no flame rectification to the control to verify
    main burner.)"

    Troubleshooting steps:

    "1. Check if the gas supply is off or too low to operate.
    2. Check the flame sense rod to see that it is located properly and free from contamination. Reposition the
    flame sense rod or lightly clean with an abrasive cloth. (See last page for positioning of flame rod.)
    3. The Hot Surface Ignitor may not be positioned on the burner correctly. Reposition as necessary. (See last
    page for proper positioning of hot surface igniter and flame probe)
    4. Low voltage to the water heater. (Verify the hot surface ignitor glows by recycling power and looking thru
    sight glass window. If you have a glowing ignitor, then your problem is probably fuel related.)
    5. Thermal Release Device is damage or missing. No oxygen in combustion chamber.
    6. Inadequate fresh air to support combustion inside combustion chamber.
    7. Main burner supply tube is blocked, bent or restricted; burner orifice is blocked or restricted."
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    Basically, the thing tries to light, and either it doesn't, or it can't sense that it did. It uses an electrically heated device to ignite the gas. You should be able to see that glowing like an electric stove element on high after a power cycle when it has locked out. It uses a timer after turning on the igniter, then turns on the gas once it thinks the igniter is hot enough. This should light the main burner. There's a rod that senses the heat from the main burner...if that is dirty or isn't positioned properly, or connected properly, it can't sense the flame, and the system shuts down, purges the gasses, and tries again. It will only try this so many times before it says there's a fault.

    The troubleshooting is fairly complete, but identifying the parts described may not be all that easy (but there's often a diagram).

    Does the exhaust fan (power vent) ever turn on? It might not until it senses that the main burner has come on.

    Not sure what they mean about #5...but, it sounds like there's some sort of door that opens to allow combustion air into the burner.

    The WH may just have lint or other crud blocking the air inlet. So, take a close look, and maybe vacuum or dust that off. The gas burner won't work if it can't get sufficient air, and all it may require is a good cleaning. Some designs are easier to clean than others, and some designs aren't as prone to getting blocked as others, but it is blocked, that may be the issue.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
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