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Thread: Problems with BW Defender

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member
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    Question Problems with BW Defender

    Last June had to replace water heater. It's a townhouse, with limited space. Plumber said that only HWH that could be installed was BW Defender. When the utility closet doors are closed the pilot goes out. The changed several parts over the past several months and I have lived with the doors open to keep the pilot from going out.

    BW states that there is not enough air exchange - had NO PROBLEMS with past two HWH. Just spent $600 to have custom louvre doors installed on the utility closet and laundry room. Doors installed on Wednesday and pilot is still going out!!!

    I ended up here in total frustration. I've contacted another plumber to assess the situation because I've spent $1600 for a BW HWH that isn't doing what it shoud be doing.

    Any help or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!!

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    A gas appliance needs approximately one square inch of unobstructed air vent per 1K BTu of burner. Depending on the size of the louvers, you still may not have enough free air. A second thought is how tight the whole condo is, if it is well sealed, or you have other problems with the furnace, dryer, exhaust vents, you may end up with negative pressure in the house. If, for example, you have a range hood that actually vents outside, it could be pulling a slight vacuum in the house. Couple that with the dryer, adn maybe a stove, and the bathroom vents, and you could be starving the WH from enough air. It could be that those other users of air are pulling it through the flue, and this pushes the pilot away from the sensor, which then cools off and shuts things down. Lots of if's there, and probably more. You may need an air-to-air heat exchanger to bring in enough fresh air to overcome the problem.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    If the pilot was going out because of lack of air due to the doors being closed then main burner would have never worked...you have another problem....how many millivolts is the pilot / thermocouple producing...I am going to guess it is the thermocouple or the gas control valve or some of the other things jadnashua has said above....

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    Thanks for the replies which I will give to the plumber. I do know that the plumber that installed it changed a couple of parts one of which was the thermocouple. This is all greek to me but I do appreciate your ideas.

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    DIY Senior Member Runs with bison's Avatar
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    Lexi, does the gas valve/thermostat on this water heater look the same as the GE/Whirlpool, etc? (Push button igniter to the right, reset button to left and gas switch dial in center.) If it is then there is a fair chance that it is a problem with the gas valve/thermostat. These Unitrol Robert Shaw valves shared by all the majors have some quality control issues and this sort of behaviour appears to be a common problem as a result. The one thing that suggests otherwise is if the problem only happens with doors closed...

    We've been round and round on this forum lately about gas valve issues on other makes, with the BW sellers here suggesting that this sort of problem can't happen with a BW and that all problems would be solved by replacing the Whirlpools/U.S. Craftmaster/State/A.O. Smiths with a BW/GE or other BW clone. I've been a skeptic because of the obvious shared component that is behind a large number of the Whirlpool failures.

    If it was mine, I would swap gas valves (on BW's dime) to see if this fixed it. That's what I did with the Whirlpool (as have many others) and that worked. Just like in your case the TC has not worked for many. Of course, the gas valve is still a bit of a crapshoot, because even if it is the gas valve, there is no guarranty that the replacement doesn't share the problem.

  6. #6
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    GE is NOT a BW clone/rebrand. It is a Rheem/Ruud/Vanguard/Richmond/etc. clone.

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    DIY Senior Member Runs with bison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    GE is NOT a BW clone/rebrand. It is a Rheem/Ruud/Vanguard/Richmond/etc. clone.
    Regardless, the same Unitrol Robert Shaw valve was shown on the BW Defender illustrations as you will find on all the others...so the central point is unchanged.

    EDIT: Here is a link to the Bradford White Defender system explanation: http://www.bradfordwhite.com/DEFENDER.ASP# Note that the controller in the top image is of a Unitrol identical to that on the Whirlpool Flamelock except for color of the thermostat dial. This is the same set up as I noted on the GE's in Home Depot.
    Last edited by Runs with bison; 01-29-2010 at 07:12 PM. Reason: Added BW link to their Unitrol controls

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    DIY Senior Member Runs with bison's Avatar
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    Bumping this. I'm curious to know what sort of solution Lexi came to. I've also updated my post above with a link to the same problematic Unitrol Robert Shaw valve that plagued my Whirlpool. So much for BW's superior design, they use the same gas valve that is giving the rest of us fits. But, hey, folks can sleep better knowing they paid more for the Bradford White...

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    Had no response from new plumber that I called to assess the situation. Hope to talk to HVAC guy today and see if he has any thoughts. "Runs with bison" - I posted a photo of the control unit in an album - hopefully it's there.

  10. #10
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    BW is now using a new style Honeywell gas control valve that I have never seen before...they are this style..



    Does yours look like this....

  11. #11
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    No, it doesn't. I put a picture in my album.

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