Bradford White Water HeaterStraight out of our customer files, we had a new client call the other day with a Water Heater that had quit working. The family had been without hot water for a couple of days and couldn’t figure out what was wrong – their heater was only two years old! When the client looked at the unit in her basement, she reported that the panel had flashing lights. We asked for a photo and what sequence of lights were flashing. Jake called technical support, and found out that the “Flammable Vapor Sensor” had detected smoke or fumes.

This sensor is designed to shut down the hot water heater and its pilot light when it senses fumes that may ignite. It is especially sensitive to natural gas odors – and a gas leak could lead to an explosion! Our homeowner client said she stored old paint cans and paint thinner close to the water heater. We ordered a new sensor and installed it for the customer, advising her to tightly seal all paint and thinner cans and store them further away from the water heater.


Flammable Vapor Sensor Air Supply SystemThe Take Away for Homeowners:

  • Keep stored liquids and chemicals of any type well away from your water heater and furnace.
  • Paints, paint thinner, bleach, gasoline, opened engine oil cans, even detergent, should be tightly sealed.
  • If you’re having hardwood floors refinished, consider shutting down the water heater while the sealant is being applied.
  • Same thing if you’re painting or sealing the walls or floor in the basement.
  • Keep the cat litter box in another area.
  • Take a look at your water heater regularly, and keep its control panel clean and free from insect nests and other debris (yes, even a spider nest could be a problem!)

If you’re in doubt, please give us a call! We can help with diagnosis on your water heater, replace it with a new unit, or repair it to get you splashing around in hot water in no time.


-Deb at Jake the Plumber