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iwanttofixit 03-11-2012 03:27 PM

A.O. Smith Water Heater Pilot Light
I have a 9-1/2 year old A.O. Smith 50 gallon natural gas water heater, Model FDV 50 216, S/N MK02-2006490-216. A couple of years ago a plumber was doing some other work, and when he re-lit the water heater pilot light, something changed. Ever since then, on windy days the pilot light blows out--it didn't used to do that. I think he may have bent the pilot light shroud or damaged the thermocouple, but it's pretty hard to lay on the floor and see how things are lining up in there. During windy periods, like now, I end up lighting the pilot light about once a day. When it's not windy, it can stay lit for 4 months. This heater is in the basement and vents out the upper wall through a double pipe--exhaust out the middle and intake air in the outer ring. The metal shroud outside looks to be in good shape (not rusted out), and I tried propping a wind block, but it hasn't helped. Today, for the first time, the main burner didn't want to light after I lit the pilot, waited 90 seconds, and turned on the burner. The burner would try to light and go out, putting the pilot out, too. This happened twice. What causes this? I'm thinking about buying a new pilot/thermocouple assembly and trying to install it, but now I'm wondering if the heater is going out when the burner tries to relight, and that could be the gas control on the outside of the heater? Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

iwanttofixit 03-12-2012 08:15 PM

I think I may have found the problem. Talked to a friend about how to go about it. Pulled it all apart, took out the burner/pilot/thermocouple assembly. The thermocouple was pulled down about 3/8" in the bracket, so it wasn't in the pilot flame like it should've been, I guess. Also found that the thermocouple line was less than hand tight in the gas valve! Cleaned it all up really good, cleaned the fitting holes in the gas valve, put it all back together, and the pilot light burned strong after only holding the valve button 30 seconds. Previously was holding it 90 to 150 seconds and the pilot would still not stay lit very well. We'll see over the next few days. Thanks.

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