Water Heater Rescue: Know-How, Troubleshooting, Anodes graphic

Tanklets >Direct-Vent
Water Heater Issues

Q: I have a State Water Heater Natural Gas PR650 NODS. Installed Feb 04 New Contruction. The pilot blows out on very windy days and cold weather. I find my self during winter months lighting the pilot 2 to 4 times daily. I get tired of lighting the pilot and just go without hot water. This family is ready for a solution. The water heater from hell!!!! Plumbers are no help. Is there anyone left?

A: It may not be the water heater from hell, but it could be the situation from hell. These kinds of problems are difficult to diagnose because all kinds of stuff can cause them. It might be as simple as getting a new roof jack for the water heater vent or as complicated as noting what effect the operation of other appliances has on the water heater, or whether it's affected when doors or windows are opened or exhaust fans come on. These are all air-pressure issues. Tell us more about where the water heater is located and the surrounding space. Is it in the attic? The basement? The kitchen? Does it share a vent with the furnace? Tell us all you can and maybe we can help. -- Randy

Q1: It is located in the basement scuttle room. 32 inch clearance from the outside wall, 8-foot ceiling. I have other gas appliances seemed to be unaffected. What is the maxium distance a direct vent type water heater can be from the wall? I am thinking it may have to be moved closer to the wall.

A1: Hello: I was not thinking direct vent in my previous answer. In theory, a direct vent heater is sealed, but experience says otherwise. These heaters have vent kits that don't stretch and cannot be home-made. I believe the maximum vent length is about four feet. Most heaters are right up against an outside wall. Is the cover for the combustion chamber sealed in place? Is the correct termination installed outside? Are all connections air tight? Is the termination installed in a particularly exposed place? For that last question, is it possible to put temporary baffles up to keep direct wind off the termination? Has it been misbehaving for all of the nearly six years? Do let us know what you find. -- Larry (1/12/10)