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Old 05-04-2013, 10:20 PM   #1
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Suburban WH won't light

There is gas, but it doesn't seem to spark correctly. I hear it clicking, but 98% of the clicks are quieter than I think is correct. Rarely one of the clicks actually sounds like the igniter is really sparking correctly, but it doesn't seem to catch.

I've gone through about 5 or 6 tripple attempt cycles and on the 2nd one it actually made quite a pop at the end of one of the 15 second attempts. I suspect this was a backfire of sorts after 15 seconds of gas was pumped in with only a single spark at the end.

Clearly it is something to do with the ignition system. I suspect that maybe the tips are dirty or coroded or maybe the gap is too large. I could also replace the igniter.

Any suggestions or suspicions as to the problem and solution? Thanks!
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Old 05-04-2013, 10:32 PM   #2
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here is the manual for the Suburban water heater.
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File Type: pdf Suburban Water Heater Service Manual.pdf (716.3 KB, 42 views)
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Old 05-05-2013, 09:38 PM   #3
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Tanks much joenic53. The service manual is a great thing to have. I was able to find the spec for the gap is 1/8" and I'll check that when I can get time to dig into the thing. I didn't expect to find the service manual up on the web. Very useful.


I also found that the correct igniter/electrode part is only $18 on Amazon so if that needs replacing at least I won't be out much :-). Thanks for the link!
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Old 05-06-2013, 08:03 AM   #4
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Glad that I could help.
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Old 05-06-2013, 08:13 AM   #5
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This sounds like a blocked flue. Bugs build nests in there so be careful (they may be wasps).

The gas comes on for a few seconds before the spark to flush out the lines (called a purge cycle). If the flue is blocked (or partially blocked), the mixture becomes over rich and will not ignite.
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Old 05-06-2013, 02:43 PM   #6
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Interesting idea about the bugs. Which part is it exactly you're calling the "flue"? Is that the long tube with the curve in it that has the valves at one end and the electrode at the other? Is it as simple as taking this off and cleaning it out with a pipe cleaner or something?
Thanks for the other idea. I'll see if I can check on that as well.
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Old 05-06-2013, 02:54 PM   #7
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Hmm... looking at the owners manual picture it looks like the "flue" is the sheetmetal box above the burner area. I suppose this controls the amount of air that gets into the combustion area so that would make sense. I'll take that box out and check it for bugs and debris. Could be part fo the problem as well and it looks easy to remove.
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Old 05-06-2013, 10:19 PM   #8
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Compressed air or water is what others have used.

The bronze colored part is the combustion chamber and the flue pipe.

Spray that out real good.
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:19 AM   #9
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Ah, great picture. That helps. I have an air compressor so when I get home I'll blast it out and see if I can get it cleaned out. I'll also remove the electrode(igniter) and make sure it looks good. Then try it out again and see what happens. I'll let you know if I find anything specific or get it working. Thanks!
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:13 AM   #10
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Well Herk, you were right on the money. I grabbed my air compressor hose and blasted out the flue and some bug web/stuff blew out along with a bunch of other cruft. When then went off to our weekend camp for our maiden voyage and it cranked right up. Perfect. Didn't even take out the igniter or anything :-).

Thanks for your advice. It was spot on.
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