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pilot light on gas water heater keeps going out

0 votes
I have Kenmore Power Miser 9 Gas Water Heater.  The pilot light keeps going out.  I had Sears come 3 times..They replaced the thermocoupple and the thermostat and still have the problem. They said to call a chimney professional.  I called 3 different ones.

The first said I needed a chimney liner and new vent pipe for $1600, he established this by pulling the vent pipe out of the chimney and looking up with a magnifying mirror, said there was a crack.  

The 2nd one pulled the vent pipe out of the wall and put his had in the hole and established that I need a liner more than likely there was a blockage and cost for liner, vent pipe would be $2100.

The 3rd one went up to the roof and looked down the chimney saw no blockage, repairs need to be made by replacing concrete at top of chimney as there are cracks and put on a cap and also replace the vent pipe that goes from heater to chimney as there is some rusting. He said that in past experiences the vent pipe was the problem. He took pictures with my camera and showed me.  This repair would cost me $500.00.  He said he saw another vent going into the chimney, only thing I can think of it being is from my kitchen exhaust vent.

I definitely do not have a cap on the chimney, would this cause air to come in and blow the pilot light out. Today I had to relight the pilot light at 530am and it is now 530pm and it is still lite.  Today is a beautiful day with no wind.

Need to know what the cause could be.
asked in House Chimney by house12 (120 points)
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2 Answers

0 votes


Hi House12,
You had 3 professionals and there’s still no solution? I don’t know anything about your home / water heater’s location, WH BTU’s, draft hood size, surrounding area size / combustion air supply, chimney type, chimney’s existing liner diameter and type / material, your local jurisdiction code requirements, does the water heater includes FVIR feature…
Those technicians gave you opinions based on observation of the chimney and water heater’s installation; I don’t have that information…smiley
  1. The chimney MUST have a properly sized liner installed / water heater cannot vent into an unlined chimney (in some areas caly liner isn't sufficient either). Your jurisdiction may require certain type of a liner to be installed based on your geographical location (might require insulation) and locally adopted code.
  2. Kitchen, bathroom, and laundry exhaust vents cannot, under any circumstances, discharge into a chimney used for venting of fossil fuel burning appliances.
  3. Chimneys require vent caps and protective screens are highly recommended as well.
  4. Water heater’s vent pipe – you may check the following link for everything you’d need to know about it - water heater vent pipe installation.
However, I don’t believe that any of the above would be responsible for the pilot light to go out because the WH's draft hood should prevent that from happening. Nonetheless, all those things should be corrected, brought up to the current / your local code.
Common conditions that might be responsible for the pilot light to go out:
  • Thermocouple and the thermostat – it could happen that those new parts (or one of them) have problems but let’s assume that they don’t.
  • The information about this next condition is here (very probable cause if you have this type of water heater): FVIR safety feature
I don’t know how old is your water heater but effective July 1, 2003, all residential 30, 40, and 50 gallon atmospheric vent (natural draft) water heaters are required to be equipped with FVIR -flammable vapor ignition resistant design. 
I’ve already answered one question concerning FVIR here - http://checkthishouse.com/qa/504/water-heater-pilot-light-goes-out-often
  • Next extremely important item is explained here: combustion air requirements 
  • Operating open hearth fireplace creates sort of a vacuum that might cause the water heater’s pilot light to go out if you have a “tight” home. It simply pulls the air through any other “holes” in your home’s envelope. Similar situation could happen while using a whole house fan without opening doors / windows. 

However, this probably wouldn’t happen on a sealed burner chamber water heater equipped with FVIR system (if you have one of those). 

I can’t think of anything else… do you have a Carbon Monoxide detector installed, any activity? Just click on "comment" below.
answered by darekrudy (21,730 points)
0 votes
Probably too late to help you.  Hopefully you didn't spend a ton of money.  I found help via the internet and want to help others.  I have the same exact water heater.  One thing youu must do is make sure the filters underneath are not clogged.  Clean them.  Then, behind the filters, underneath the unit in the center, there is a ceramic intake filter, not sure what it's called, but use a vacuum and craft an attachment to clean that from the underside.  Then, the best solution is that these water heaters tend to have the pilot blow out upon starting and restarting.  The solution is to turn down the gas valve that supplies the whole hot water heater.  This won't hurt it.  It may take longer to heat water, but you won't get the gas air surges that blow out the pilot.  I was baffled as well, but I think the turning down the gas valve is THE solution. I'm not very happy with Kenmore, won't buy anymore, but this one will last for now, probably too long.
answered by djazz (140 points)