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Restarting hot water system?

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by GoTeam, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. Last night the hot water was lukewarm at best. I went outside this afternoon to see what could be wrong. Apparently the pilot light is out. I did as it said in the instructions to relight it. I sat there for 5 minutes with one finger holding down the prime/purge button and pressing the spark/starter button roughly every second. I did that on three separate occasions. At the end of it all I could smell was gas. That was all I was able to achieve. I've been told that sometimes it can be hard to start. Intuition tells me that pressing that start button about 300 times in 5 minutes means it probably is never going to fire up again.

    Before I moved to Melbourne, I only ever had an electric hot water system (only the old inner suburbs in Brisbane have mains gas) and in the house I had here for 2.5 years the hot water system never missed a beat.

    What I'd like to know is:

    1. Should the pilot light have lit up within 5 minutes?
    2. Is it typical for gas hot water systems to be painful like this (i.e. do they take more to fire up)?
    3. Can I declare shenanigans against it?

    Cold showers aren't fun when it is cold. It was tolerable tonight and tomorrow and Friday will be ok but it'll be painful when the change comes after that.

  2. If the clicker isn't creating a spark you can use a BBQ lighter to get it going


    Ignite the lighter first, hold it over the pilot light thingy, then depress the button on the water system. Otherwise you'll need new eyebrows. ;)
  3. ^wot he said.

    By all means provide your own means of ignition (while being careful), but if the pilot light doesn't stay on, you more likely have a gas issue and should get a licensed plumber who is a qualified gasfitter to check it out. Or ring the number on the water-heater if it has one of those stickers.
  4. Like any good mechanical device, it comes down to whether you have fuel and spark.

    Failing that, have you tried push starting it?
  5. They can often be painful - I've had faulty pilot-lighters and prime buttons that haven't worked.

    If you can smell gas after your attempts the priming is obviously working OK, so as above, check for spark, and replace if necessary.
  6. I don't know what's normal, but mine is a royal PITA.
  7. In addition to checking the ignition mentioned above - dust and shit can fall into the valve. there's like a static field created by the gas flow that tends to hold it off until it goes out and then it falls in. use a tooth brush to clean it and then it should light a lot easier.

    Also it could be due to a faulty thermocouple - if that fails then it will not allow gas to continue after you let go of the prime/purge. Replace it.
  8. The pilot light kept going out so a plumber came today. He thought it might be the thermocouple so changed that and it didn't help. He then changed the gas controller and now hot water comes out when the hot water tap is turned on :). Thanks for your help/replies everyone.
  9. As you can smell gas, this probably isn't it, but, in my experience, pilot light jets get clogged up easily as the hole is tiny. I've had good results from unscrewing them, giving them a good blow through and replacing. Not that anyone other than a qualified gasfitter can do this without blowing themselves up, of course.
  10. That was my next guess :p

    Is it natural gas?