While water heaters do seem to have more problems during the colder months, the arrival of summer can bring some other unique problems. This is especially true if your water heater is located in your attic or your garage where there is no air conditioning.
Pilot Light Problems with Your Water Heater
If you have a gas water heater, you may find that your pilot light frequently goes out when the temperatures reach 100°F or above. There are two common reasons why this occurs.
When the temperature of the air surrounding your water heater is higher than the temperature set on its thermostat, the gas valve will fail to open and light the main burner. The heat from the pilot light flame is not strong enough to produce an adequate natural draft. When this happens, any available oxygen will quickly burn up, thus causing the pilot light to go out.
Poor ventilation can cause improper gas combustion. This happens because hot air rises; taking the oxygen that is needed for the heater’s burner. The pilot light will then fail to remain lit.
How to Tell if You Have a Combustion Problem
You can confirm that you have a gas combustion problem by looking through the heater’s sight window. The gas flame will go from light blue to yellow and then turn red. With improper combustion, the burner will appear to light properly, but then the flame will flatten out. It is important to address combustion problems because in addition to causing problems with your heater, they could present a hazard in your home.
Resolving Ventilation Problems
Improving the ventilation where your water heater is located will help resolve pilot light and improper gas combustion problems. This could mean adding a fan or vents for better air circulation if your heater is in your attic. You may also want to consider insulating your attic to reduce the amount of hot air entering the attic from your living space. If your water heater is located in the garage, you may want to add fans or air conditioning to the space.
Another choice to consider is to replace your hot water heater with a tankless model that can be placed in a better-ventilated area. There are many advantages to a tankless heater including:
- Takes up less space than a hot water heater with a tank
- Saves money by using less energy than older models with tanks
- Provides constant hot water on demand
- Less maintenance than a traditional heater
No matter the type of water heater your home has, whether gas, electric, or tankless, the important thing is that you know how to maintain it and keep it in good working order, so it will last for many years to come.