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Thread: Orifice in burner in American Water Heater

  1. #1

    Default Orifice in burner in American Water Heater

    I had the same problem with my American water heaters as described in the Whirlpool thread (same mnfctr as all know). Asked for two new gas valves and manifold assemblies. No questions asked, they were overnighted for 20 bucks. I was actually pleased with the customer service.

    The manifolds do not come with the burner, you have to take the old burner off and put it on the new assembly.

    I was too chicken to try and install them myself, so two plumbers came out today and did the job in about an hour. When they left, I noticed through the glass window that the flames are bright yellow, not the cool blue they were before. And it isn't from condensation dripping on the burner. The flames are big, bright, and fill the chamber.

    I looked back at the instructions, and notice that there is a small brass orifice that screws into the burner, which is clearly intended to regulate the gas. They did not put it in the new assembly, because I see it still screwed into the old assembly.

    The assembly instructions plainly state that you should not operate the water heater without the orifice. I have called and they are returning tomorrow.

    The plumbers seemed very knowledgeable and did a great job. I just want to know if it is really a big deal, and whether they may have done it on purpose to aid in faster recovery times. One note, the square window of the manifold is hot to touch. I looked in the chamber frequently when I was trying to fix it before, and there is much much more flame than before, but it looks to be coming cleanly out of the burner. Just all yellow and not blue. And substantially louder gas hiss than before.

    I know that in matters of water heaters, extreme caution should be exercised, I just wanted to know if this is a common plumbing fix that repairmen do to aid in faster heating times.

    Thanks
    Last edited by Terry; 02-04-2009 at 04:16 PM.

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Turn off the heaters till the plumbers return...without the orifice it is allowing to much gas into the unit and there is not enough combustion air...turn it off now...

    You are not exercising any caution by leaving the burners on....
    Last edited by Cass; 02-04-2009 at 04:20 PM.

  3. #3

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    Done -- thanks for the fast advice!

  4. #4
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    I can't believe any responsible plumber would not have told you to turn the unit off.....

    and they should have returned right away...

    I find it hard to believe that they didn't know there was a problem when they lit the unit up...

    They may have seemed knowledgeable but in my book they are hacks...

  5. #5

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    Thanks. Reminds me of the old Elton John song, Someone Saved My Life Tonight (and a wife and four kids!)

    Next question -- I feel pretty confident I could pull the assembly out myself and add the orifice, but I have heard it can be delicate screwing the connections back in to the gas valve. I know about the left handed threads of the thermocoupler. Is it any big deal?

  6. #6

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    Let me be more clear. In all my research, I remember a post about using care when screwing back in the pilot tube, main line, or T/C. Pretty sure it was the pilot tube.

    Question for anyone (since I have 6 people wanting to take showers in the morning):

    If I am reasonably adept, is it pretty easy to remove the piping from the main gas valve (so I can remove the manifold door and get to the burner to place the burner orifice) and re-attach the pilot tubes, TC, etc? Or should I just wait for the plumber tomorrow?

  7. #7

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    The owner came out today, fixed it. He was very apologetic. Everything's good.

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