The Tank › Huge Pilot Light Flame
- February 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm #19535
Hi. I did a search on this topic and didn’t find any relevant info. Here’s the situation: I recently replaced a shot thermocouple on my GE water heater, model PG50T9XA, serial number 0500137513. I’d guess it’s about 11 years old, plus or minus.
I noticed that the pilot light flame is a kind of huge yellow flame, not the usual little blue flame. Seemed strange. I thought that this is perhaps a simple parts replacement problem, and perhaps the big flame is the reason why the thermocouple went bad. So I called GE and they said that the flame is large because the gas pressure is to high. They suggested that I call the gas company to lower the gas pressure. If that doesn’t handle it, they said that I’d have to replace the entire temperature setting valve assembly (I forget what they called it).
I was wondering if there is a simple quick fix for this, or if I should just follow the steps suggested by GE. My questions:
1.Is gas pressure too high a correct analysis of the problem?
2.If not, what should I do to get the pilot light down to a respectable size?
3.Can I adjust the gas pressure myself? (Or not advisable?)
Thanks very much for your help! : )
—- HughFebruary 18, 2013 at 2:56 pm #19537Larry WeingartenParticipant
Hello: If it’s natural gas and the pressure really is too high (do you see problems elsewhere?) I’d have the utility come out and adjust their regulator. They have the manometer to test gas pressure for setting the meter. It becomes a safety concern and I don’t imagine the utility will charge you to adjust their equipment, so I would not mess with it.
The pilot on modern heaters is about 400 BTUs/hour. That’s small and blue.
If the utility says pressure is good, replacing the pilot orifice might be an option. Getting the part could be tough.
Question: is the main burner flame large and lifting off the metal burner? That would indicate high gas pressure.
Yours, LarryFebruary 18, 2013 at 4:57 pm #19538
Thanks for your advice, Larry. Yes, the flame from the burner is quite high and yellow, as is the flame from the pilot. I also noticed that there is more to it than the pilot flame. The little port (air vent?) on underside of the base of the pilot tube also has a flame coming out of it in addition to the pilot flame. Sounds like it may well be the pressure is too high. So I’m calling the gas company to have the pressure checked.February 19, 2013 at 8:37 pm #19539
I did a follow up service call behind the gas company the other day because the pilot would not stay lite. The thermocouple was changed out by the homeowner when his pilot would not stay on. When I told him his pilot orafice was missing and he had a over shooting pilot flame he swears it must have been that way from the factory. The heater has been working for over a year so I don’t think so. I believe when he replaced the thermocouple he removed the pilot tubing and the orafice fell out. Yours sounds like this might have happened also. The compression nut will not seat properly without the orafice inserted in the pilot.February 20, 2013 at 12:58 am #19541
Pilot orifice? Wow, a new one on me. I had no idea. In fact, I took the thing apart to clean it, and there was no orifice in there (I didn’t know it was missing because I had no idea that it was supposed to be there). So, I’ll look around and see if maybe I dropped it somewhere in the water heater closet or something. Where it went is a mystery for now, but now it seems like this is the real problem. Missing orifice! I know there used to be a small blue flame on the pilot, but it’s a big yellow one now. So, somehow, the orifice disappeared! Thank you for this tip, EJ. Definitely going to get that fixed before the gas company comes next week (don’t want to end up with egg on my face). : ) Hope they sell these things somewhere. I guess that’s the next problem: Finding somewhere to buy an orifice if I can’t find the original one.February 20, 2013 at 1:26 am #19542Larry WeingartenParticipant
Hello: Stuff happens, but when changing the thermocouple, did you take apart the pilot as well? If you removed the pilot tube from the pilot burner, the orifice could have been lost. (it looks like a very small, cup shaped piece of metal with a tiny hole through the middle) If you didn’t undo the pilot tube, the orifice couldn’t have gone walking.
When I replace a thermocouple, it’s usually easiest to remove the whole burner assembly from the gas control, slide it out, work on it with some elbow room and then replace it.
It may sound a bit strange, but I plan to stay in control of any job because water, gas and electricity seem to enjoy their freedom and like to get loose! 😉
Yours, LarryFebruary 20, 2013 at 1:36 am #19543
I read you. No, I didn’t take the pilot assembly apart until I decided to clean it (there was a bunch of carbon accumulating on it from the yellow flame). Really, it’s a mystery. But, you’re right, it couldn’t have gone walking. Sometimes we do things (like losing an orifice?) without realizing it … I looked, and it’s definitely gone. Murphy’s law? In any case, I’m happy to know what the problem is. Now I can fix it.February 27, 2013 at 2:28 pm #19574
Wooo-hooo! The new pilot light assembly arrived today, I took out the new orifice and installed it in the existing pilot light assembly and now I’ve got meself a perfect little blue pilot light flame. Happy camper here. Thanks to all for the help. The net is a wonderful place, and this site is a great example of how real people like to share and help each other. I’m very appreciative![How the old orifice got lost and where it went is still a complete mystery. But, no matter, life goes on . . . ]March 3, 2013 at 10:41 am #19597
Most likely it will remain one of life’s mysteries. Like all the tools I have dropped that went down that black hole and never to be found again 🙂March 4, 2013 at 12:27 am #19603Randy SchuylerKeymaster
Ah yes. The black hole. In my case, it was a cold-water port on a new heater. I was demonstrating to some apartment owners how you drill out the ring in the cold port.
And then the brand-new hole saw bit came loose and landed in the bottom of the tank with a thunk. It made me look SO good to those people.
Randy SchuylerMarch 7, 2013 at 7:38 pm #19612
I hope you told them it was a stainless bit 🙂
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