Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Water Heater Problems

Talking to people at a neighborhood barbeque a couple of weeks ago and the subject of rent control comes up, not too surprising since some of the folks are landlords of one sort or another. They might own a couple of houses or a duplex or some such. I've known several people who have gotten into this and they all claim it is good way to make money. I never thought it was worth the hassle. Just tending to my own house is a real pain in the tukas.

Right now I am trying to figure out what to do about the my stupid water heater. The water heater that came with house lasted for like 25 years before it sprung a leak and had to be replaced. I did it my self, it's not terribly difficult. Once you drain the water out they are like an empty beer can. There are three pipes (hot water, cold water and the gas line) and the exhaust flue to connect and you are ready to go. Problems started showing up shortly thereafter and intermittently ever since. The old water heater was totally mechanical. The new one has a thin film of electronics applied over the mechanics and this is where the problem arises. Every once in a while, the tiny electronic brain would decide that one of the sensors was not operating properly and it would shut off the gas, the water would go cold and I when I discovered this betrayal I would fly into a rage. Turn the dial on the control box to Off and then wait a few minutes for the thermocouple to cool down and stop producing energetic electrons. When everything has died down, you can relight the pilot and you are back in business. So what's wrong with the sensor? Who knows? The thing will run for another year or so before it flames out again.

If there really was a problem with the sensor, the water heater should not have continued to run after being restarted. I suspect there is some electrical connection, somewhere in this black box, that is weak and whenever the temperature makes a big change, the contraction of the metal bits means it loses contact and the heater loses its mind. But why does it start up again when I relight the pilot? Was my body radiating enough warmth to cause the metal to expand and reconnect? Or was it just my aura having a psychic effect on the electrons in the immediate area?

Now it's developed a new problem: the controller just shuts down, no flashing trouble codes, the status LED just goes black. Restarting it has gotten to be more difficult and has to be done several times a week. I thought about calling Whirlpool, but I've never gotten any satisfaction from them before, and I would liable to start screaming at whatever unfortunate happens to answer the phone, and that's not going to do anyone any good. I could order a new controller and sensors and replace the ones I have, but how do I know these are going to be any better? I think I'm going to go talk to George Morlan, the Water Heater King, see if he has any advice on the subject. He'll probably want to sell me a new water heater. As long as it's not a Whirlpool, I'll probably buy it.


Sambo said...

Remember how they said computers will make our lives so much better ? What a load of B.S.!

xoxoxoBruce said...

When you turn off the box the thermocouple does not cool down. It cools down when the flame goes out, and that's what signals the valve to shut off the gas to avoid a big bada-boom. The thing you have to hold on the gas valve(although that might be done electronically now) for a minute after lighting the flame is bypassing the thermocouple until it heats up.

Chuck Pergiel said...

I was thinking about replacing the controller, but now I'm leaning towards replacing the entire water heater. If will cost a bit more, but I'll be rid of the stupid electronics. But maybe I won't have to do that. Ever since I threatened to replace it, it has been behaving. So maybe I just have to go out and threaten it every once in a while.