Water heaters are often tucked away in basements, garages, or utility closets, but in some homes, they find their home in a less common location—the attic. While this can save space and provide other advantages, it also presents unique challenges, particularly during the scorching summer months when attics can become extremely hot. One common issue homeowners face in these situations is the pilot light on their attic-installed water heater frequently going out. In this blog post, we’ll explore why this happens and what you can do to address it.

Understanding the Attic Environment

Attics are notorious for their extreme temperatures, especially in regions with hot summers. When the mercury rises, so does the temperature inside your attic. Attic temperatures can easily surpass 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius) during peak summer heatwaves. These high temperatures can affect various household systems, including your attic-installed water heater.

Why the Pilot Light Goes Out

  1. Excessive Heat: The most common reason for the pilot light on an attic-installed water heater going out is the excessive heat in the attic. The extreme temperatures can cause the thermocouple, a safety device that monitors the pilot flame, to malfunction. When the thermocouple becomes too hot, it may shut off the gas supply, extinguishing the pilot light as a safety measure.

  2. Air Supply: Attics often lack proper ventilation. Reduced airflow can affect the combustion process, making it difficult for the pilot light to stay lit. Insufficient combustion air can result in a weaker pilot flame that is more susceptible to being blown out by drafts or heat.

  3. Flammable Materials: Attics are sometimes used for storage, which can introduce flammable materials near the water heater. If the pilot light is not properly shielded or isolated, it may be at risk of being extinguished by combustible items or debris.

Solutions and Preventative Measures

  1. Thermocouple Replacement: If the pilot light frequently goes out due to excessive attic heat, consider replacing the thermocouple with a high-temperature-resistant model designed for attic installations. This can help the pilot light remain stable in extreme temperatures.

  2. Improved Ventilation: Enhance attic ventilation to reduce heat buildup. Adequate airflow can create a more stable environment for your water heater and reduce the risk of the pilot light going out.

  3. Regular Maintenance: Schedule regular maintenance for your water heater. A professional can clean and inspect the pilot assembly, ensuring it operates efficiently and safely.

  4. Clear the Area: If your attic is used for storage, keep flammable materials and clutter away from the water heater to reduce the risk of pilot light issues.

  5. Consider Relocation: If pilot light issues persist despite your best efforts, consult with a professional about relocating the water heater to a cooler area of your home.

In conclusion, attic-installed water heaters can be susceptible to pilot light issues due to extreme heat. Understanding the causes and implementing preventive measures or solutions can help you ensure a consistent and reliable supply of hot water, even in the hottest of summer months.

If you’re experiencing pilot light issues with your attic-installed water heater or have concerns about its performance, don’t hesitate to contact a qualified technician for assistance. They can provide expert guidance and solutions tailored to your specific situation, ensuring your water heater operates safely and efficiently year-round.