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Fix Your Water Heater Pilot With A Brush And A Vacuum


water heaterIf your gas water heater was manufactured after 2003, the chances are good that it has a FVIR (Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistance) feature. These are water heaters with a flame arrestor and filter screen that increase the safety of the unit. They have a sealed burner that differs from the older water heaters. FVIR water heaters have an ignitor button to light the pilot, whereas the older style allowed you to light a match and place it into the burner assembly to manually light the pilot.

Water heater pilots sometimes go out. Instructions for re-lighting them are posted on the side of the tank, but if the pilot continues to go out, you need to do some troubleshooting.

You may end up replacing the burner assembly or even the gas control, but cleaning the filter might just do the trick. You will need a long wire brush (preferably with plastic bristles), and a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment (the long skinny one). Turn the water heater off and let it cool down for 15 minutes or so.

At the very bottom of the water heater will be an opening or two about an inch tall. These openings are covered by a screen. Remove this screen and vacuum it or wash it with soap and water. Removing this screen will give you access to the filter. The filter is located on the underside of the burner area. If this filter is clogged with lint or dirt, it will prohibit air from entering the burner chamber and consequently the burner won’t be able to heat the water. You may find that there is enough air passing to allow the pilot to stay lit, but when the demand increases to fire the burner, it will go out.

Stick the wire brush into the opening and rub the underside of the burner chamber at the center of the water heater. Rub it a few times and pull it out to inspect. You will probably see lint and dust that the brush has picked up. Vacuum this off of the brush and stick it back into the opening. Repeat this several times until the brush comes out clean and then vacuum the entire area including the area under the burner chamber. Replace the screen and follow the directions on re-lighting the pilot.


Brilliant post!Thanks for the information that you have share with us.It is my first time to hear about it and I get amaze with the details that It can easily help you to fix our water heater.
Posted @ Friday, April 08, 2011 10:13 PM by speedfit pipe
Your post is full of information. its really nice. thanks for sharing such an skilful post i will definitely subscribe you for sure.
Posted @ Thursday, March 28, 2013 2:53 AM by Plumbers for Repairing in Sunnyvale
the new gas water heaters today all have a safety device called a flame arrestor or air intake screen. when the flame arrestor gets dirty and they all do. the drafting of heat up the flue slows down and the thermo cut out disables the pilot light. most pilot failures are due to dirty flame arrestor. the tightspotvacuum brush is a great tool for cleaning the flame arrestor without removing any parts on the water heater. anybody with a vacuum cleaner can clean their water heater
Posted @ Thursday, March 27, 2014 8:11 AM by stewart wrozier
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