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Tanklets > Condensation Issues

Q: Hi. I have a GS650YBRT 50 Gallon gas water heater (purchased 2004). The was no hot water yesterday and when I checked it, the pilot was out. I lit the pilot and the burner fired up and we had hot water until this morning. I checked and the pilot was out again. I lit the pilot and fired the burner and watched it for a while. The burner stayed lit but I started hearing a dripping sound (like water hitting the burner and steaming off).

Also when the burner fires, the flame is blue but when the dripping sound starts the flame turns yellow. Is there something inside that could be dripping water or am could this be a leak in the tank. There is no water on the floor. Would anyone know if this is a common problem? I am thinking 5 years is a pretty short life but I could be wrong. Any thoughts would be appreciated....

A: This sounds like condensation, which is normal on a cold start with nearly any gas, tank type heater. If it is dripping close or onto the pilot or thermocouple, that could put it out. Commercial heaters sometimes have a little rain shield to prevent this problem. So, watch the heater and keep it firing until the tank has had a chance to warm up. The condensation/dripping should stop. -- Larry (1/4/10)

Q1: Thanks very much for the reply. The condensation aspect sounds right since after I fired it up a second time, the dripping went away. I also found a very dirty FVIR air filter. I cleaned it and so far so good. Thanks again for the info. Great site.

Q: My natural gas water heater was down for a few days (bad ignitor electrode).  After starting back up I noticed a sound which I could best describe as a drip extinguishing a flame.  Looking through the window it appears something is going on.  See video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lezAmg7RHZs

I read that non-defective water heaters are often returned because condensation is mistaken for a leak.  It is very cold in the basement where the water heater and I see no water/condensation around the heater itself.  Is it normal for this to happen during the first warm-up?

A: That sure does look and sound like condensation. It’s far more common with a cold start, which you had. By now, the tank has heated up and even when you use water and the tank reheats, you should be getting little or no condensation as it’s starting out much warmer. If it were a leak, you would see water on the floor. You can get this after a big load, like tub filling, but otherwise condensation like this is rare and not worrisome. -- Larry (6/14/22)