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2015

Who makes the most easily resettable FVIR


Gas appliance can ignite flammable vapors
There is NO best recommendation, except to install electric water heater that has no FV system?

Best solution for gas water heater FV system is to 1) Understand lockout, 2) correctly install product (clean environment, plenty of fresh air), 3) regular maintenance to avoid problems (clean the air intake, burner, check venting etc),
) 4) access to service manuals from manufacturer, 5) turn off gas water heater when working with flammable vapors, 6) install electric water heater if you have high risk environment such as workshop for race cars, cleaning solvents, paint & lacquer, or have a dusty dirty environment (laundry room, attic, crawlspace etc)
Resources
How to troubleshoot gas water heater
How to install gas water heater
How dangerous is gasoline and gas water heater
Remember FVIR is flammable vapor ignition resistance
Resistance means the system will resist ignition of flammable vapors... but not 100% guarantee... just like you might resist eating a doughnut, but there is no guarantee you will not eat doughnut.
Old gas water heaters would suck gasoline fumes into burner where fumes would ignite.
Sometimes there would be whoomph sound with no further ignition.
Other times, there would be enough flammable vapor that entire room would explode into a fireball, killing occupants and burning down house.
Insurance company losses caused government to mandate water heater companies invent and implement FV systems
FVIR
Arrestor screen stops flames from spreading

Flammable vapor sensor
Flammable vapor sensor


Understand lockout:
There are 3 basic types of lockout.

1) First one is overheated combustion chamber due to inadequate air draw, improper installation, dirty dusty environment that clogs air intake screen, lack of proper venting, dirty combustion parts from lack of cleaning or maintenance etc.
The flame begins to turn yellow instead of crisp blue... the venting of gas byproduct slows, yet same amount of fuel is being burned.... the combustion chamber overheats.
Result lockout.

2) Second is actual flammable vapor sucked into combustion chamber that causes ignition of fuel and overheated combustion chamber.
Most instances require cleaning, and/or part replacement.... but actual repair steps vary by model, age and brand water heater since the FVIR systems have evolved over the years since FV mandates came into effect.

3) Flammable vapor detected by vapor sensor, which causes lockout.
Newer water heaters have flammable vapor sensor located on outside of tank.
This part can be tested with a multimeter and replacement part obtained from manufacturer.
Most instances require cleaning, and/or part replacement.... but actual repair steps vary by model, age and brand water heater since the FVIR systems have evolved over the years since FV mandates came into effect.
Remember tankless gas water heaters have no FV system, and will not protect homeowner from danger of flammable vapor ignition. Tankless electric will generally not pose FV danger, useless there is electrical short.
Likewise, electric heat pump or hybrid water heaters have no protection... and yes heat pumps can ignite flammable vapors. Regular tank-type
electric will generally not pose FV danger, unless there is electrical short.
Keep in mind that both tankless gas and heat pump water heaters, the ignition source is much higher off the floor than ordinary tank-type gas water heater.
But also keep in mind that some flammable vapors are lighter that air and rise (such as natural gas), while other flammable vapors are heavier than air and fall to the floor (propane gas and gasoline)
For this reason, local code prohibits installation of propane appliance below grade (basement)
Things to check:

1) Call each manufacturer to determine which parts are affected in event of FV lockout for the specific model you are considering.

2) Check the troubleshoot section in each manual under lockout.... which means a service manual must be available for you to read.... except not every company posts service manuals.
AO Smith yes (includes American, Reliance, State, Craftmaster, Whirlpool, Kenmore etc),
Bradford White Service manuals yes,
Rheem NO (includes Richmond, GE etc)
Rheem does not post service manuals, so that eliminates them from consideration.

3) Check which company is willing to supply do-it-yourself basic repair information. AO Smith generally yes, Bradford White generally yes, Rheem maybe.


Intellivent gas control valve

4) Power vent models only:
The Intellivent gas control valve usually has a button sequence to reset after lockout... again you need a service manual or company willing to supply do-it-yourself information to individuals.
Keep in mind this gas control valve is electronic... and that White Rodgers will build it to the specifications requested by the water heater manufacturer... so models vary, and there is no single manual that covers all intellivent gas control valves.
Resource: example service manual:
AO Smith Intellivent troubleshoot and FVIR test/ pdf
Troubleshoot intellivent gas control valve
flammable vapor sensor
Resource: example service manual for Intellivent:
AO Smith Intellivent troubleshoot and FVIR test/ pdf
Troubleshoot intellivent gas control valve

Thermostat probe and ECO on gas control valve thermostat
5) Remember the thermostat
Thermostat on gas water heater is built into the gas control valve temperature probe.
Normally this is a single use item... so if water is overheated inside tank because the thermostat has gone bad, then the ECO trips, and gas control valve must be replaced.
Things that can affect failure of thermostat include age, defective manufacture, build-up of sediment etc.
Resource:
How to replace thermostat or gas control valve on gas water heater

TCO thermal cut off located front of combustion chamber
6) Whirlpool and other companies have a resettable thermal switch located on front of combustion chamber that can be reset after some high combustion chamber events.

This is a thermal device. It trips when combustion chamber exceeds temperature set point.
One example that would cause the thermal switch to trip is overheated combustion chamber because air intake screen is clogged with dust, or inadequate air supply.
Dust clogs screen, so there is less air for venting, but same around of gas is burning inside combustion chamber, and overheating situation occurs.



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