My water heater won’t stay lit

There are many reasons and factors that can cause a water heater to not stay lit.  The top 5 common ones are.

1. Thermocouple goes out
2. Gas utilities being turned off
3. Air temperature in the attic
4. Lack of Air / oxygen
5. Defective gas control valve

Several months ago we had a customer (also a dear friend) replace their hot water heater.  The brand new water heater would not stay lit.  The water heater was in the utility room so it was not overheating or getting blown out, however it was behind a movable wall.  Bear tried everything he knew, he even replaced the gas control valve.  After several trips to drill holes in the wall, install a vent to the wall, replace the gas control valve AGAIN the heater has now stayed lit.  We then found out after research that the new style water heaters are not getting enough oxygen to stay lit.  We consulted with another plumber in the area having similar issues.  Some water heaters in attics are requiring a fresh air vent to be installed from the soffit vent to the area where the pilot light of the water heater is.    Keep in mind there could be several factors affecting any issue…in this case nature and faulty manufacturing were the two.

This week we have had another customer call that has TWO heaters in the attic that will not stay lit.  Being the expert that I am (LOL), I told Bear it can’t be faulty manufacturing on TWO waterheaters at the same time in the same attic.  It is great being right some of the time : )  These are tricky situations.  As you read before there are many factors.  Time to get some questions answered.  Makes me think of going to the Dr.  What hurts, how long has it hurt, have you changed your eating habits or exercise routine…..So has anything changed in the attic?  Funny question, but….the attic did recently have new insulation put in.  The soffit vents that provide air flow in the attic have been covered by the insulation.  REVIEW – What does a gas water heater need to stay lit?


So just move the insulation, right?  Not necessarily.  Some solutions as stated above are to install a fresh air duct to bring air directly to the pilot light area.  The solution in this case was to have a roofer install a vent to this attic since the soffit vents were covered by insulation.

Since we are having this issue come up again and again.  We decided to call one of the manufacturers.  Would you believe that when the heater manufacture called Bear back they told him the max air temperature the water heater could handle was 115 degrees?  Bear laughed, do you realize we live in Houston, TX and I have been in attics that are 157 degrees.  Ok side note be kind to your plumber whether you use Bear’s Plumbing or someone else see if you can schedule attic work first thing in the morning  : )

If you have a specific question please post it to the blog, email, or give us a call.  We would love to answer your question in an effort to help you and others.

About theplumbersbride

Born & raised in Houston TX Devoted wife of a master plumber and mother of three. One of my favorite quotes is. Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
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6 Responses to My water heater won’t stay lit

  1. Kyle Saenz says:

    Good day! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  2. air quality says:

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  3. Anglea says:

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  4. Darren says:

    3yr old water heater on propane, large tank outside w/ regulator, new therm and controller installed! Pilot stays on but when gas is increased starts normal but blue slowly fades to Yellow! Repeat process, same outcome! It has been VERY cold past few nights and we started experiencing low flame on stove, also on same propane tank outside! House Heater, in attic, will not stay on, seems to struggle. Thinking main regulator, outside at propane tank, is failing?

    I have experience R&R water heaters and or therms and or controllers but not on LP OR IN 20 degree temps! Not a plumber but never ran into anything like this in my 54yrs., always a pretty simple fix when water heater is involved!

    Maybe O2 issue in base of water heater? Cleaned the “screen” but that was about all I can do. Seems to be starving for O2 due to yellow flame! It’s a closed system so creativity can go only so far in this case!

    Maybe outside regulator? But why the Yellow flame? Starving for LP? Long shot?


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