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Water Heater Reset Light

Why does my hw direct vent heater reset light come on after I turn on the hot water. Right now what I'm doing is turning on the switch and then racing outside and tap the heck out of the orfice (I think it's called) and then it stays on until the water is heated up. What could cause this problem? Is the gas line dirty?

Hi Wally,

Here is the ignition sequence for your water heater:

Once the switch is turned on, an electrical current is sent to the ECO (energy cut off) then to the thermostat, then on to the circuit board. The circuit board then opens the gas valve and sends a series of sparks to the electrode that is in the gas flow. These sparks ignite the main burner and the electrode sends a micro-amp current back to the circuit board to tell it that the flame is established. If the flame does not ignite, the board shuts off the gas valve, discontinues the spark, and lights up the light at the switch.

It is often neccessary to repeat the ignition sequence several times, especially when the unit has been stored for a time. It takes a while for the gas to get to the burner.

If you have to tap on something to get it to light, there is probably a bad electrical contact, somewhere. Pull off the electrical terminals, one by one, and make sure they are tight and clean. You can crimp the connector a little with a pair of pliars to tighten it up. Re-attach it and do the next one, so that you don't mix them up.
Les Doll

Les--On my Atwood 10 gal, DSI, the light in the WH switch inside lights temporarily when I first turn it on or when the WH first turns itself on (water needs heating) and then goes out after the ignition sequence is completed successfully. Thelight will stay on if the sequence does not complete successfully.Is that the same as what you described or does it vary with the unit/manufacturer?
Dave O

Yes, Dave that is the same as I described (only shorter) :>)
Les Doll

Now my hot water heater burner won't even light up. When I turn on the switch all I hear is a lot of clicking and then the light comes on. I know I have enough propane. What could the problem be with this darn thing now?

I should of mentioned the type of heater I have is a Direct Vent Suburban model SW6DE. Any help would be appreciated!

Sounds like your gas valve selenoid is not opening the valve. May be the selenoid or the valve. Replace the gas valve, about $100, and you should get hot water again. Happened to me the same way. I replaced the DSI (also $100), still would not light, replaced the two sensors (about $20) that lie flat against the tank, spring loaded and covered with foam pad but still did not make any difference. I then replaced the valve which allowed it to fire right up. Now I have an old DSI which I will keep in case I have further problems. Not much else to go wrong with these heaters.

Al, since this morning the heater decided to ignite and stay lit. What I've been doing is just heating the water in the morning for showers and dishes and then again at supper time for the dishes again. I got into that routine because I figured it might last a bit longer and also because here in Brownsville, Texas during the winter it's 70 - 80 degrees and if I need hot water it only takes a minute or two to heat it up. At night time the humidity is very high and I was wondering if the reason it did not light this morning was because whatever it is that lights up the unit was damp. Is that possible?

Wally, have you checked all the electrical connections - it sounds like you have a bad connection and the damp weather just agravates the problem
Les Doll

Les, yes I've checked the visible ones, I think there were about 3. Should I be looking further?

Walley, check the wiring connections on the gas valve and especially the ground connection. (the ground connection may be the physical mounting point of the gas valve assembly. If this is the case, remove the mounting screw or nut and clean the contact area to bright metal)

You said before that you had to tap on the valve to get the burner to light. Possibly the ground connection is corroded.
Les Doll

Les, I've cleaned and tightened every connection and this morning I flipped on the heater and it ignited ok but stayed on for 1 min only. I then flipped it off/on and it ignited right away and stayed on till the water heated up like it's supposed to. I turn it off and then tonite when more hw is req'd, I'll try again. I'll keep u posted.

Les, So far(touch wood)the hw heater is working the way it should. I'm still turning in on/off as hot water is needed. I noticed this helps to keep the calcium build-up to a minimum. I also noticed that 1 of the 2 screws were missing from reset (black pad on unit) and was not making contact. Do u think that would of made a difference on a damp day? The reason I ask that is because apparently the unit has been working from day 1 in that condition. I guess when the dealer replaced the board they didn't replace the screw.

Les, I had a DSI water heater that was acting the same way as described. ALl connections were good and it was sparking. It would not fire and the light on the control panel would light up. After lots of poking, proding and checking of electrical connections, I could whack on the gas valve while it was trying to ignite and it would fire. Sometimes it would work through several cycles and next time it might not work. As best I could figure out was that the gas valve vas sticking as it was getting power to operate. Replaced the gas valve and it worked fine for about a year and it did it again. With all of the other problems we were having with the motorhome, decided it was not worth fixing again and traded it off for someone else to fix for awhile.

I did take the gas valve apart to see what was going on and did find a very slight residue in it the was tending to make the valve stick. I don't know if it was dirty propane or what.
Ken W

You bring up a very valid point, here. Propane is a very clean fuel but refining is not 100 per cent perfect, and during transport and transferring from tank to tank, it may well pickup some contaminants.

From the refinery to your tank, the propane may be off loaded a dozen times - each time some contaminants may be introduced. Most bulk plants transfer propane by using a compressor to pressure up the delivering tank. The higher pressure in this tank drives the liquid propane into the recieving tank. A compressor needs oil to help seal the rings on the piston and a minute amount of this oil gets by the rings on every piston stroke. Most of this oil remains in the bulk tanks, but some is held in suspension in the propane vapor and ends up in your cylinders and eventually in your appliances. This residue is extremely "sticky"! (and STINKY!)

While not, as a rule, a common problem, this could cause sticking valves in the appliances as well as the main regulator.

Thanks for the reminder, Ken.
Les Doll

Is there something I can clean to rid my Water heater of this substance?

I don't think that this is your problem. If your water heater has been working well since cleaning the electrical contacts, then I would say that corrosion on the contacts was causing the malfunction.

The "residue" problem normally shows up in the main regulator (it's the first component in line) and then it tends to collect in the lowest part of the gas system piping since it is heavy. A solvent and compressed air is used to clean out the residue in the lines, but this should be left to an RV gas technician as too much pressure could damage other appliances.
Les Doll

Al, my heater quit working now. There's lots of spark but no gas going through. Do you think it's one of the 2 selenoids that is not opening the gas valve?

The spark ignition on my water heater seems to be working finr, but the heater seems reluctant to stay lit. I plan in opening it up and just give it a general cleanup.

Anything special I should be aware of? Anything to be on the lookout for?

Finally! my heater is working. I installed a new gas valve and now it's working fine. The 1 gas selenoid had an ohm resistance of only 6 and the other one had 44. I tried to buy these selenoids separately but couldn't find one so I decided to buy ($102) the entire valve. Thanks all for your help..I also found out the price for a new Suburban hw heater - it's $450 + taxes...installation extra!!

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