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Thread: Whirlpool Flame Lock water heaters, reviews, troubleshooting, repair and support.

  1. #451
    DIY Junior Member curlysir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hussy250f View Post
    I bought a Whirlpool Flamelock, LPG , 1 year ago from Lowes. The old B.W. blew a leak late on a Saturday, Lowes is nearby, blah blah blah. This new one went out about 3 weeks ago.
    To shorten this post up I'll say that the thermocouple is fine, checked with a multimeter during lightup, and I have a clean flash arrestor in the bottom of the unit. I also checked for voltage before and after the "circuit breaker" located below and to the right of the gas valve, 22mv in (black wire), 19mv out (white wire).
    Lowes did not have a LPG valve in stock, and most of the local plumbing supply places only carried the normal "I could care less" looks.
    I called the # on the water heater, got them to send me a new gas valve, under warranty, so no cost to me. The new valve would not be in for a few days because this took place on a Friday. So I pulled the gas valve out of my old B.W. water heater, all the connections lined up and she fired right up even with the old thermocouple in place.
    All I had to do was adjust the burner pressure down a bit to eliminate the slight yellow flickers off the ends of the burner flames, the yellow was not present when the Flamelock was in operation before this.
    This past weekend I pulled apart the original Flamelock gas valve to see how the pilot circuit is setup. I found out that the white wire from the "circuit breaker" runs up into the temperature sensing element that protrudes into the tank and thru what I figure is a thermistor that must cut off the pilot circuit at some really high water temperature.
    I'm figuring the thermistor breaks down internally over time and the pilot won't stay lit. When I get the time I'm going to try and rig up a test stand to put a controlled
    heat source on the temperature sensing probe of the gas valve and see if the mv signal to the pilot circuit drops after a bunch of on / off cycles.
    I would have to say the the problem I am diagnosing is centered in the RobertShaw gas valve and not the flash arrestor like some people here are saying. When I first started to lose the pilot, upon restart the burner would light right up and burn all blue flames, no yellow at all, stay "burner on" all thru a heat up cycle, shut off and then I could see the pilot slowly lose gas till it also died. I'm pretty sure if the main burner can work at all the pilot will not be starved for air between heat cycles, so pulling out the glass or drilling some holes in the unit won't help.
    I don't know if the new gas valve has any changes from my original, but they do look identical. That would explain why the "upgrade" kits seem to have the same problem down the road. The thermistor in the temperature sensing tube would be the quick fix AWH and RobertShaw came up with to replace the left hand threaded thermocouple on the early models.I think I saw in a picture somewhere that left hand thermocouple had a bulge in the tubing back a bit from the coupling head.
    Maybe if an AWH or RobertShaw employee is going thru this pile of post they can look into this.
    And no, I still have not changed to the new gas valve.
    I might just remove the sensing tube first to see if they changed that thermistor to a different spec part. Shes' still working fine with old B.W. gas valve.
    Read the above and thought I had already posted as I am in the same boat and did the same thing for a temporary? fix. Did same checks on thermocouple and it was good, replaced just in case because it was cheap and Lowe's had them in stock. Both old and new had about same output 18-20 ma.

    Joined this site so I could become a member of the club. Purchased a LPG BFG1F5040T3PV in April 2008, worked fine until this weekend. Water Heater is the US CraftMaster version. Previous heater was American Standard, same manufacture just different brand, and had worked fine just was getting old, so purchased without reading. Really mad at self because I could have got a Bradford at same price. Anyway, reason I quoted this post is that I have done the same thing (installed Old Control Valve In Water Heater) because I didn't want to be without hot water for 2 days while new LPG control value is shipped. Don't know why but the valve is being shipped overnight at no cost and they even gave me a number to call for free installation. If I install the new valve I will do it myself as the installer is A & E Sears, and the reports on them are not that good. And installing the control valve/thermostat is not that hard.

    Only thing I see that I am not getting with the old control valve is not having the thermal switch on the thermocouple, which may be a good thing. When I bought the new water heater it came with the skirt and it appears to do a good job as the screen on the bottom was clean.

    Will not spend any money on this water heater and when it fails again will probably replace.

    Read all 23 pages and this thread will go on for a while.

  2. #452
    DIY Junior Member curlysir's Avatar
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    Received my replacement valve today. I am debating whether to install the new valve or leave the older style control valve/thermostat in. The old valve is working fine. The only thing that I see that I do not have with the old valve is the resettable thermal switch wiring that is on the new valve. The thermal switch never had to be reset so I did not have a problem with that. What exactly does the thermal switch protect against and do I really have a major safety issuse with the old valve? I don't see that it is any different then the previous water heater that was there for years without any problems. I still have the flash back screen in place and have not made any other modifications.

  3. #453
    DIY Junior Member curlysir's Avatar
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    Found this little tid bit of info http://www.macdonaldsupply.com/custo...ge%2011-08.pdf about "We want to apprise you of an unfavorable service trend with certain Robertshaw gas valves which were used on American residential heaters manufactured between September, 2007 and May,2008 (water heater serial numbers range from 0735 to 0822) The typical consumer call has been “pilot will not hold”. This is also a quote from the same letter "We apologize for the inconvenience this problem may have caused you and your customers. We can assure you that gas valves used after May 2008, incorporate an ECO which is in compliance with our specifications".

    Pretty much describes the condition of what I had (serial # 0804) and several others have discussed here. I don't know if the problem has truly been "fixed" on the newer gas valves but I will probably put the new valve in when the weather clears up in a few days and see how long it will last.
    Last edited by curlysir; 09-22-2009 at 06:04 PM.

  4. #454
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking monday morning a boatload of calls

    got a boat load of whirlpool calls today...

    the first was from a poor guy in Houston, with a 1 year old Whirlpool heater installeled up in his attic.. behind the furnace.... wanted to know how to reapir the unit.. he has got troubles


    the second guy was from San Deigo, the previous owner had majic markerd the heater with dates every time the reapir man fixed that dog, it had been repaired 5 times in the last 6 years... i told him to jsut throw it out , and he agreed...

    then it really began...

    I get 4 more calls scattered through the day...
    all from Indianapolis, wanting me to repair their Cess-pools, all of them about 2 years old...

    I told them to call Raji in India and have the parts sent to them.... then call me back...

    .This would almost be funny , if it were not for the people that have beed screwed so deeply by whirlpool...

  5. #455
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    Quote Originally Posted by curlysir View Post
    Found this little tid bit of info http://www.macdonaldsupply.com/custo...ge%2011-08.pdf about "We want to apprise you of an unfavorable service trend with certain Robertshaw gas valves which were used on American residential heaters manufactured between September, 2007 and May,2008 (water heater serial numbers range from 0735 to 0822) The typical consumer call has been “pilot will not hold”. This is also a quote from the same letter "We apologize for the inconvenience this problem may have caused you and your customers. We can assure you that gas valves used after May 2008, incorporate an ECO which is in compliance with our specifications".

    Pretty much describes the condition of what I had (serial # 0804) and several others have discussed here. I don't know if the problem has truly been "fixed" on the newer gas valves but I will probably put the new valve in when the weather clears up in a few days and see how long it will last.
    Have this very issue Serial # begins with 0817. No continuity found as tested though the white and black wire running from the thermal cutoff switch once the the water tempture is near the cutoff set at 120 degrees the ECO cuts off the main burner and pilot before reaching the desired temp. After that the pilot will not stay lit until after the water cools down cold then the ECO closes and continuity is present again as tested though the white and black wire running from the thermal cutoff. The thermal switch continuity tested ok so the thermal switch is not the issue.

  6. #456
    DIY Senior Member Runs with bison's Avatar
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    Missed curlysir's follow up with that very useful information. So much for the plumber claims here that the Robert Shaw valves could not be the problem. Turns out they were, and my serial number in the range mentioned! My serial is #0808.

    This explains why there was no indication of any other problem on mine and some others: no air restriction/draft problem apparent, clean FVIR screen, yet the Robert Shaw valve had obviously failed after one or two relights.

    Of course the question now is whether or not the replacement Robert Shaw valve is really fixed...only time will tell.

  7. #457
    DIY Junior Member jfkn's Avatar
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    Smile Flame Lock Whirpool Water Heater model NO.?

    I have purchased already 3 Whirlpool Flame Lock water heaters from Habitat. These were donated to Habitat for sale by Lowe's, obviously warranty returns with problems. All 3 had removed model and serial numbers so I do not know what models I have. To order parts I need model numbers, otherwise Whirlpool can't locate the replacement parts. Can anyone help me using the pictures below to identify the model? The thermocouple has right-hand threads and manifold tube also right-hand threads. The water heater is similar to what Lowe's has on the floor now, but my does not have the Thermal switch.

    When purchased the problem was not thermocouple but the high temperature sensor (HTS) in all 3 cases. That is an internal part (penny value) and I suppose the whole thermostat (gas control valve) needs to be replaced. In first instance I got around by taking the HTS from the 20 year old water heater I was replacing. Second and third time I took it from new similar valves that I happened to find at Habitat and bought it cheaply. These HTS are very easy to replace, problem is to get it. If someone knows where to buy it I will appreciate the information. See the last picture below that shows 2 HTS, one as removed from the gas valve and one with insulation stripped. It would be very easy replaced (silver solder) if the electronic component was available to buy. I do not have the problem with clogged screens. One water heater is installed outside as shown on the picture, one in my garage elevated above the floor 18. Also I need outer doors for both. My email jfkn@cox.net.
    Attached Images Attached Images      

  8. #458
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking you are in trouble

    that is a new one on me,,,, I have never seen this new peice of junk bdefore

    this is not a flame lock water heater.....

    that burner assembly is some sort of
    energy star type that is close to the same radiant burner assembly that BRADFORD has is their new energy star models..

    I cant immagine how bad these must be considering they cant make a normal water heater work corretly..

    LOWES dontated some real junk to
    habitat for humanity and should be held accountable... being the fact that they scraped off the model numbers and serial numbers should tell you what kind of crap you got there....

    I would tell them you to take them back and "dontate " a better water heater to those homes....or you are going to the local news papers.





  9. #459
    DIY Junior Member jfkn's Avatar
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    Default I think it is Ultra Low Nox

    I think that it is called Ultra Low Nox. Judging from this manual http://www.whirlpoolwaterheaters.com...315422-000.pdf that depicts the same burner assembly.

    What is the "Flame Lock" feature? Thanks.

  10. #460
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    So at the end of the day, we have one guy saying the screen just gets clogged up, another saying it's too small, another saying it's both. One saying it's the gas valve, many more saying it's the thermocouple, and one guy saying it's the thermal switch.

    So do any of you know for certain what the problem is?

  11. #461
    DIY Senior Member Runs with bison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPlumber View Post
    So at the end of the day, we have one guy saying the screen just gets clogged up, another saying it's too small, another saying it's both. One saying it's the gas valve, many more saying it's the thermocouple, and one guy saying it's the thermal switch.

    So do any of you know for certain what the problem is?
    All of the above, but it is a different issue on each unit--or group of units anyway. There is no doubt about the Robert Shaw valve/thermostat being the problem on some units (such as mine). This has now been documented from the manufacturer (see curlysir's link.) The emergency cut off in these were failing rendering the valve worthless. If you had a failure in the Robert Shaw valve you wouldn't know it until you replaced the thermocouple and it still didn't work. This has been a common theme in the thread.

    Then there were some units where it appears to have only been a TC problem. On others it was a problem with the FVIR screen plugging. The screen for it is too small for the service and it is poorly placed. Lack of appropriate surface area is the norm for many kinds of equipment. I don't think half of the folks doing the design for suction and discharge grates have a clue as to what is needed. I say that from the perspective of having done such designs for process equipment, and re-engineering/modifying some of the messes that have been in my own appliances. They rarely provide sufficient open area.

    The point is that none of the explanations fit all of the failures individually. But take them together and they appear to explain all or nearly all of them.

  12. #462
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking Its a piece of junk, on so many levels

    Quote Originally Posted by RPlumber View Post
    So at the end of the day, we have one guy saying the screen just gets clogged up, another saying it's too small, another saying it's both. One saying it's the gas valve, many more saying it's the thermocouple, and one guy saying it's the thermal switch.

    So do any of you know for certain what the problem is?


    Which came first, the chicken or the egg???

    here is a link to the low knox that this fellow has...

    this will be a ball trying to figure out what they screwed up on that model....


    http://www.americanwaterheater.com/p...pdf/U_LNOx.pdf

  13. #463
    DIY Junior Member jfkn's Avatar
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    Default All problems

    Quote Originally Posted by RPlumber View Post
    So at the end of the day, we have one guy saying the screen just gets clogged up, another saying it's too small, another saying it's both. One saying it's the gas valve, many more saying it's the thermocouple, and one guy saying it's the thermal switch.

    So do any of you know for certain what the problem is?
    All of them.

  14. #464
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Well a competent plumber can diagnose it if he were there...you start by checking the millivolts coming from the thurmocouple....and go from there but it could be a combination of different things because of the bad design if the unit...
    Last edited by Cass; 11-22-2009 at 07:00 AM.

  15. #465
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPlumber View Post
    So at the end of the day, we have one guy saying the screen just gets clogged up, another saying it's too small, another saying it's both. One saying it's the gas valve, many more saying it's the thermocouple, and one guy saying it's the thermal switch.

    So do any of you know for certain what the problem is?
    It's all of the above don't you get it?

    This thing has had more different problems than you can shake a stick at:
    • Thermal Fused Thermalcouple models without burner enhancement kit installed prior to BFG model
    • Flame Arrestor/Air Inlet Too Small all models.
    • Flame Arrestor/Air Inlet Clogging all models.
    • TCO on gas valve some models.


    Don't hold me responsible for missing anything missed...

    Want reliable hot water?
    Rip it out and put in a Bradford White!

    These Flame Guards are just evil evolving over time!

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