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How to repair Rheem TRD

FVIR troubleshooting guide
How to test if thermal device needs replacement
 Warning: Turn off gas to water heater: If the inner door removed on gas water heater and flammable
vapors are present, a fire or explosion may result causing property damage, personal injury or death.
FV sensorFV sensor mounted on outside of gas water heater:
If flammables materials are used, then all gas burning appliances in the vicinity must be shut off and pilot lights extinguished. Use adequate ventilation when flammable substances are in use.
The FV sensor is located inside a plastic case to keep it dry and clean... if the sensor is blocked, or has been covered with dust, leaves, water etc, it will not function. Replace part.
The FV sensor must have continuity, so a small current of electricity can pass through the sensor and signal to gas control valve that all is ok.
Failure of part, or FV event will 'short out' the sensor and shut off gas. Dirty environment will cause problems with all modern gas appliances. Replace the part and clean out water heater as described farther down on page.
Flammable sensor kit
How FV sensor works
How to test FV sensor
Rheem TRDRheem TRD/ thermal device located inside the combustion chamber

Rheem TRD/ thermal device

Verify activated TRD pdf
How to repair TRD
 FV systems vary by brand
Information given here can be different from your specific model
Rheem Ruud Richmond GE
AO Smith-
American-State-GSW Craftmaster-Reliance-Kenmore-Whirlpool
Bradford White
Worst choice: remove combustion door to access, reqires part
Air intake on side
Uses TRD glass vial trigger for overheating event
Arrestor screen located under combustion burner
Locate arrestor screen by removing burner
Clean arrestor screen with compressed air after removing burner
Company may send glass vial
Reset thermal reset on front of unit
New gas valve may be needed
Rheem Does NOT post service manuals
Best Choice in my opinion: Air intake on bottom
Arrestor screen stops acceleration of flames into room
Arrestor screen located under combustion burner
Locate arrestor screen on bottom of water heater
Set water heater on bricks
Clean arrestor screen with feather duster/ compressed air on bottom of heater
Reset thermal reset on front of unit
New gas valve may be needed
AOS Posts service manuals
Good choice/ remove combustion door for access
Air intake on side
Arrestor screen stops acceleration of flames into room
Arrestor screen located under combustion burner
Locate arrestor screen by removing burner
Clean arrestor screen with compressed air after removing burner
Reset thermal reset on front of unit
New gas valve may be needed
BW Posts service manuals
Fv system trips because of high heat.
1. Ignition of flammable fuel such as gasoline or paint thinner
2. Dirty air intake causes slowing of air flow up vent pipe, yet same amount of gas is being  burned.

Most brands can be repaired. Gas control valve might need to be replaced.
Prevent problems: air intake has to be kept clean, and ample air supply given to water heater.
Avoid dusty atmospheres, and flammable vapors

Combustion chamber draws air from room
Bradford White has FVIR resistant: Read
What is FVIR or FV or TRD system:
Flammable vapor ignition retardation system

Water heater combustion draws air into combustion chamber through air intake.
Water heater vent pipe to outdoors creates natural draft upward that pulls air into combustion chamber.
Air enters combustion chamber.
If air contains flammable vapors such as gasoline, then water heater burner ignites the vapor.
If unchecked, the ignition inside water heater will spread into surrounding room causing flashover or explosion that will kill you and burn down house.
When vapor ignites inside combustion chamber, the FV system senses very high heat and immediately shuts off air supply to combustion chamber.
This prevents flashover or explosion inside room.
Insurance company property and casualty losses prompted FV safety mandate.
Each water heater manufacturer is responsible for developing FVIR system.
Rheem developed system with glass vial that shatters in event of FV event.


Exposure to flammable vapors, inadequate air supply, exposure to common household chemicals, clogged air intake, water heater dropped, vent pipe blocked, too many elbows in vent
Broken TRD TRD glass vial is broken
What to look for on Rheem, Ruud, Richmond, GE heaters
Verify TRD is activated (broken)
Rheem FVIR Rheem FVIR or TRD uses glass vial
When water heater experiences FV flammable vapor event, or overheated combustion chamber, the glass vial breaks, causing spring door to snap closed cutting off air to combustion.

On Rheem/Ruud/Richmond/GE, if glass vial breaks, you need to replace part.
Cause of FV event must be resolved before putting heater back into service.
Read installation manual and observe cautions, advisories, and maintenance.
FV water heaters are evolving rapidly. 
FVIR shut off TRD shuts off air supply
When glass vial breaks, the air is shut off to combustion chamber

FV event is caused when Flammable Vapors enter water heater. Tripped FV helps prevents flashover, fire and explosion inside house.
Example illustration showing air intake and air shut off
Other water heaters have air intake located on bottom
of tank.
Each model and brand water heater can vary as FVIR prevention evolves rapidly

Water heaters rated over 65,000 BTU do not have FV system. Tankless water heaters do not have FV system. Space heater, open fireplace, gas logs etc do not have flammable protection and each item listed above can ignite vapors and kill you if precautions are not taken.
Gas water heater burner Symptoms of  tripped TRD
1) On Rheem, Ruud, Richmond, GE heaters, look for signs of shattered glass on combustion floor.

2) Symptons by type of gas control: With Robert-Shaw and White Rodgers gas control valve: If pilot light stays on without problems as long as gas valve is in PILOT position, but you then turn to ON position and main burner flutters and disappears within 30 seconds then good chance TRD is tripped.'
With digital-type Honeywell gas control and White Rodgers Intellivent gas controls, there are wires connecting combustion chamber and gas control that will shut off gas to burner and pilot. Pilot will not light. Burner will not light.

3) Caution: Same symptoms can also be bad gas control, low gas pressure, or clogged air intake.
Inspect if air shut-off baffle is tripped upward. Inspect for broken glass. Clean air intake. Avoid dusty atmospheres. If water heater brand is not shown on this page, consult manual for FV information.
Water heater manufacturers

4) If pilot will NOT light, and there is NO gas available, then ECO can be tripped. Check manual for ECO. Some ECO/TCOs are small button located on front of combustion chamber: this configuration is re-settable after overheating problem is repaired (clean combustion parts and air intake). Some ECOs are located inside gas control thermostat. ECO inside gas control is single-use, and gas control valve must be replaced. Consult manual. Follow maintenance schedule shown in manual for cleaning combustion parts. Test ECO

5) If pilot will not stay lit, then thermocouple might be bad. Test thermocouple.
Read: pilot will not stay lit


Telephone Rheem Solution 1: Call Rheem/ or GE or manufactruer of your tank:
Rheem, Richmond, Ruud, GE water heater: Gather information from label on side of tank, then contact Rheem and ask for glass vial, and other affected parts.
GE chat
Contact Rheem
Read product manual for advisories about warranty.
Other brands: Call Manufacturer and ask for replacement parts and repair steps, and read manual for advisories.
FVIR systems are rapidly evolving, and manufacturer will have current solution which might reqire water heater replacement.
Rheem warranty and extended warranty appear to be pro-rated and say: 'the limit of liability is reached when the repairs/replacement equal the replacement cost of 'like and kind' equipment during the term of the agreement.

Follow prevention steps shown below.
Water heater manufacturers
Return water heater Solution 2: Return water heater to box store where puurchased:
If you bought GE water heater at Home Depot, they will exchange for new heater

How to install gas water heater
Solution 3: Replace heater
Rheem, Richmond, Ruud, GE water heater must be replaced unless Rheem / GE can ship glass vial.
Other brands water heater also require replacement.
Install new heater and follow prevention steps below.

How to install gas water heater
How to recycle old water heater

Flame arrestor screen located under glass vial must be cleaned
Before repairs are made
Clean flame arrestor so air can enter combustion chamber.
Clean air intake located on side -or- located bottom of heater. How to clean air intake
Use air compressor and duster.
If air intake is located on bottom of water heater, then water heater has 3 legs, and screen on bottom of tank is could be difficult to clean without removing burner.
Clean burner and clean combustion chamber. How to clean combustion chamber
Remove all flammables and household chemicals from area.
Move water heater out of dusty, dirty environement, and set 18" off floor
Inspect vent pipe and check draft. Vent test
needle nose pliers
Off-code repair

Full image with words
Solution 4: Repair work-around: Bend part using pliers
 Warning: NOT recommended. VOIDS warranty. UNsafe since FV system is no longer operable.

How to repair TRD
How to repair Rheem FVIR: If you cannot buy the glass vile that holds spring loaded door. You can by-pass device by removing burner assembly and using needle nose pliers. Reach in and bend metal bracket that held glass vile. Bend it so it holds open spring loaded combustion air door.
Next clean out the air intake, clean flame arrestor screen that filters incoming air, and follow prevention shown below. FVIR/TRD water heaters need plenty of clean air, and proper venting.
Your heater should now stay lit.
Solution 5: Repair work-around using fuse or bent nail etc
 Warning:  NOT code
Don't do this.
Insert cartridge type fuse (short variety) to replace glass vial

 This is not a game.
New heater costs a few hundred dollars. Hospitals, lost wages, lost careers, funerals, burned-down homes cost more.
I personally knew two fellows who were killed while laying floor tile in Chicago in 1978. They were using the old petroleum-based floor adhesive (now outlawed). Water heater ignited floor adhesive and conflagration killed both young men.
Recently, the local Lowes manager told me he had a friend who lost both legs. The fellow smelled gas. Instead of leaving the building and calling gas company, he removed front panel off water heater. The explosion and fire caused  life-altering injuries. His action by-passed the FVIR safety feature by removing front cover.
Gas control thermostatLarger image

Larger image
How to access TRD.
Take photos of everything for easy re-assembly.

1) Remove wires as needed from Gas control valve and ECO located on combustion door

2) Disconnect Thermocouple, Manifold tube, and Pilot tube from bottom of Gas control. Notice these connections are not overtightened and do not require pipe sealant.

3) Gas controls vary. Manifold and pilot tubes on LP gas heater are reverse thread. Some thermocouples are reverse thread.

4) Burner door is held with 2-4 screws and may require replaceable gasket or sealant. Be careful with gasket so it can be re-used.

5) Pull out burner assembly. It will fit under or into a slot.

6) Reassemble after repair. Do not overtighten connections. Thermocouple is usually finger-tight + 1/4 turn.

7) Use soapy water and check manifold and pilot tube connections for gas leak.
DO NOT remove or loosen the combustion door without turning off gas.

Gas water heater burner assembly
Soot on gas burner
Soot on water heater
Flame should be clear blue. Yellow flame indicates insuffucient air.
Soot on burner and/or top of water heater indicate insufficient air supply. This causes heat build-up and can trip TRD

-Clean air intake.
-Clean combustion parts and chamber.
-Check gas pressure
-Inspect/ repair vent
How to solder copper pipe
1) Do not store gasoline in open container.
How to prevent TRD problems: (and ECO failure and other general water heater problems)
Caused by overheating inside combustion chamber
1) Do not store gasoline or flammables near water heater. Keep gasoline, kerosene in closed containers.
2) Avoid dusty atmospheres and give water heater adequate fresh air supply
3) Turn off water heater when using oil-paints, varnish, spray propellants, shellac, WD-40, thinners, lacquors, hair spray, gasoline, solvents, flammable cleaners, contact cement. Read product label to identify flammables.
4) Install water heater 18" off floor since gasoline vapors gather close to floor. Other flammable vapors do not gather close to floor.
5) Read product labels for flammability and advisories
6) Avoid storing or using chemicals in same room
7) Craft sprays and home project materials are flammable. Read labels.
8) Read manual and follow yearly maintenance schedule for cleaning air intake and combustion parts.
9) Make sure vent pipes are working and that combustion parts and top of water heater are not sooty.
10) Don't drop water heater

Remove flammables away from water heater

Be cautious
Explosion inside your home wastes precious fuel, and could burn down neighbor's garage.
Gas safety cans at Amazon

gas control knob
3) Turn off water heater burner and pilot when using flammables

Raise water heater 18" off floor
4) Set water heater 18" off ground

5) Read product labels for flammable warning: shellac, Kilz, lacquer, varnish, craft spray, floor paint, spray paint, solvents, accelerants, cleaners, etc
water heater air intake
6) Clean air intake regularly
FVIR cleaning
Dusty environments
2) Avoid dusty atmospheres and give water heater adequate fresh air supply

5) Read label for flammable warnings
Test water heater vent pipe 7) Check if flue has proper draft by lighting match

See if smoke drafts immediately upward.
The smoke should not linger. It should draw upwards quickly.
If vent does not have draft or if furnace vent is blowing out of water heater vent each time furnace turns on, then vent pipes must be repaired.

All gas appliances must vent out of house to avoid CO poisoning.
Read checking the draft
Water heater manual
8) Read manual for advisories, warranty and maintenance schedule.

Repurpose old water heater:
Recycle old water heater
Tempering tank
Solar water heater
drop water heater
9) Don't drop water heater.
TRD/FVIR will break
Close-up image

AO Smith FVIR water heater
uses Cordite arrestor
Example 2011 manual

How to clean arrestor using vacuum and brush

Water heater cannot be put back into service if arresor is cracked.
Arrestor must be inspected,cleaned, and parts replaced as needed. Arrestor is not replaceable part.

AO Smith

Same as American, State, Whirlpool, Reliance, GSW, John Wood
Water heater manufacturers

Image showing 2006 AO Smith FV design.
If FV event occurs, the arrestor screen is inspected for cracks. Then TCO is tested and replaced as needed. If screen is cracked, replace water heater. Otherwise, clean arrestor screen, remove flammable materials, and water heater is serviceable.

2006 design has Replaceable TCO shown
Page 18 manual

Larger image
Flame trap inspection

AO Smith

Image showing 2008 AO Smith FV design with mechanical gas control

2008-2010 design has resettable TCO located on front of water heater.
If FV event causes TCO to trip, it can be easily reset. And then arrestor screen is cleaned with brush and compressed air, and then inspected for cracks.
If arrestor screen is cracked, then replace water heater.
Using water heater with cracked arrestor screen will void warranty.

2010 AO Smith has Honeywell electronic gas control valve, with wiring changes for resettable TCO

Resettable TCO on front of combustion chamber
Larger image
Lighted inspection mirror
Flame trap inspection mirror at Amazon

Larger image

AO Smith

FVIR troubleshoot for Intellivent gas control valve
Resettable FVIR
Clear flammable vapors from area
Turn off power to water heater for 10 seconds
Within 10 seconds of restoring power, press both temperature adjust buttons simultaneously (blue and red triangles) until the green vacation LED begins to blink.
When Vacation begins to blink, replease temperature adjust buttons
Again, within 10 seconds, press both temperature adjust buttons simultaneously until the vacation LED is on steady without blinking ( 5 second delay)
Release temperature adjust buttons, the microprocessor will clear FVS lockout and normal operation will resume
American high efficiency gas
AO Smith Effex
Larger image
Larger image 2
AO Smith Effex has resettable FVIR
Read review
Effex Service Manual

Same as Kenmore High efficiency, State high efficiency, and American high efficiency

Bradford White

Bradford White Defender
Bradford White has FVIR resistant water heater
1) Flame arrestor has large openings that reduce chance of dust and lint causing problem.
2) Likelihood of dust and lint clogging flame arrestor is reduced by the height of combustion air inlet located on side of tank
Defender FVIR heaters
Review of Defender FVIR
FVIR forum discussion
Bradford White Icon gas control valve features
Air intake
Large air intake reduces dust and lint problems
"In the case where trace amounts of flammable vapors are present in the air
flowing into the combustion chamber, the vapors are harmlessly ignited
by the burner / pilot flame. If flammable vapors are in sufficient quantity
to prevent normal combustion, the burner/pilot flame is shut down.

Should the flammable vapors continue to the burner, the flame arrestor
plate prevents the flames from traveling backwards and igniting vapors
outside of the combustion chamber. The calibrated, multipurpose thermal
switch recognizes this and shuts down the pilot and main burner. This
switch also deactivates the burner and pilot in the unlikely event of
restricted airflow caused by severe lint, dust or oil accumulation on the
arrestor plate."

Water heater must be replaced after flammable vapor incident/ read Pg34 service manual   Bradford White service manual
In event of overheating, or thermal event, the ECO trips and can be reset after cause of overheating is repaired
Bradford White flame arrestor

Designed to let air pass into combustion chamber.
But will 'prevent flames from traveling backwards through flame arrestor and outside water heater'
Read pdf
FVIR mandates were passed to reduce insurance casualty and property losses.

Many household appliances can cause flashover and explosion of hydrocarbon fuels
Tankless water heater
Hybrid electric water heater
Space heater
Gas logs
Faulty wiring

Tank-type gas water heaters are located in garages and storerooms where flammable vapor storage is probably more likely to happen. People are more likely to clean a paint brush using gasoline while in a garage, rather than in the kitchen or family room.
Leave house if you smell gas If you smell gas.
Leave building immediately
Do not turn on light switch.
Do not stop to open windows
Call gas company
Gas is transparent but odorant is added so people can smell when gas is present. Illustration shows colored gas, but gas is transparent.

LP gas hugs the floor and can fill a basement.
Do not install LP gas water heater below grade (in basement).
Smell close to the floor when LP gas is used.

Natural gas rises.
You can easily smell natural gas while standing.

Install gas detector.
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