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Old 11-17-2011, 08:57 PM   #1
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suburban hot water heater

i have a dw6e hot water heater. electric element works fine. propane side is not working properly. when i turn on the gas switch (inside), the reset light comes on. then the spark electrode fires and the gas ignites. after a few seconds (10 or so), the spark electrode stops firing and the flame goes out. reset light comes on and after about 20 seconds the process repeats. this happens 3 times and then the unit locks out. i turn off the switch and the cycle repeats. my question is, once the spark electrode fires and the gas ignites, is there some other probe or device that should keep the flame lit? i don't think the spark should fire continually, should it? i noticed the two probes where the spark arcs across glow after about the third try. is this glow supposed to keep the flame going? or is it something else like my gas valve closing prematurely? (before the tank gets hot).
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Old 11-17-2011, 09:13 PM   #2
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Try this first......
Light your stove and let it burn for a minute or two. This will purge any air that may be in your gas lines.
The way you described the way your heater is operating sounds normal.

Hope this helps. Let us know if this works or not.

Oh yeah, to the forum!
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Old 11-17-2011, 09:22 PM   #3
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Yeah it almost sounds like stale propane. It will spark spark spark spark light, sit for a few, then spark spark spark spark light, etc... after a few tries it is supposed to go offline until you reset it. So it is behaving like it should except for the fireball not staying lit.
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Old 11-17-2011, 09:32 PM   #4
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i have had the stove burning for awhile. also have been running the heater. propane tanks were complete empty and just had them refilled. if you can't tell, i just appropriated this trailer and am trying to get it ready to use. it had massive rain damage, but most of the utilities have been sound. had to replace the fridge control board, but that is it so far. but anyways, back to the problem. i am sure the propane is good and all of the air has been purged. i understand this is how the heater is supposed to function with the ONE exception of the burner not staying lit. that is what i am not sure on how to troubleshoot further. is it coincidence that the flame goes out as soon as the spark stops? or should the spark stop, but the gas flow should continue and thus continue burning until the thermostat says it is at the desired temperature?
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Old 11-17-2011, 09:38 PM   #5
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Well, it depends. Is it "blowing out"? Or just not being fed fuel?
Try to make sure there is no blockage of AIR flow. Bees and wasps like to nest in the chamber. Sometimes you can't see them because they are around the bend. It could be that the fireball is not able to draft correctly and is shutting off because of it.
I see a coat hangar in your future.
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Old 11-17-2011, 09:43 PM   #6
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ok, i will take off the burner tube and clean it out. i will look in the flue as well. thanks for the time in replying. i will let you know.
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Old 11-17-2011, 09:53 PM   #7
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I have the opposite problem. Gas works well, but electric is flaky. I think I have a shorted element. I've popped breakers on 30A pedestals in CGs. Home power is only 15A so I'm not surprise it pops. On the generator, there's no electrical mayhem, but the thing doesn't heat the water.

Yet another off-season project!!
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Old 11-20-2011, 05:15 PM   #8
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well, i cleaned out the tube and there was nothing in it. so i am still unclear of the problem. when the burner lites, it is a strong, clear, blue flame. i am still trying to figure out the gas delivery and spark delivery mechanism. the way i understand these things is that the spark is delivered to ignite the flame. then as long as the gas flow is on, the flame should stay lit. however it appears that the gas is being turned off somehow. what is baffling is that it is consistent with the spark being turned off as well. that is why i think there is some switch or control panel or something that regulates this. i could understand the spark being turned off, but the gas should remain on until the temperature reaches the deisred setting. Correct? Does anybody know?
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Old 11-20-2011, 07:19 PM   #9
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Considering all you have done, I would now let my dealer look at it. Maybe the temp sensor is shutting off the fuel prematurely?
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:50 PM   #10
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The igniter also acts as a thermocouple. When the burner ignites check to make sure the igniter is in the flame. If it is, it may be no good, or the board might be bad. It keeps sparking because it does not detect a flame. After 6 seconds the gas valve will shut off, then in about 20 seconds it will try again. It will repeat 3 times then lock out.
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