That title is a serious Spoiler Alert…. this may not be the blog post you are looking for. I don’t have any Jedi mind powers to dissuade you from reading it, but if you were with me in 2017 when I dedicated several days worth of posts documenting my saga with the thermostats in my home and troubleshooting my hvac system, you know how exciting that was. A real nail biter. The kind of post with cliffhangers where you just can’t wait for the sun to set and rise again so you can read the conclusion. Yeah, this post is gonna be like that.
However, this time I’m delving into the wonderful world of water heaters and gas valve sensors. For the record, we live in an amazing time. I mean, the fact that you can encounter a problem and the solution to that problem is at your fingertips. A person doesn’t have to have years of schooling or spend hours working with an expert in a field to learn how to do something new or pay thousands of dollars to have expert help. You just have to have an electronic device with some computing power and a connection to the internet. Want to know how to do something or learn something?.. “Just Fucking Google it”!!
(So many times I’ve wanted to say that to people, when they ask questions. I don’t because I’m fairly polite, but my tolerance for those sorts of interactions is not as high as it used to be. Especially with my kids’ dad. 🙄). I digress.
Anyway, about a week ago I went to take a shower and the water never got hot. I’m like 3 weeks from moving out and selling my house so of course my water heater would break. That’s Murphy’s law. It actually happened the day I was headed to the other house for a week so I kinda just let my brain gloss over it and promptly forgot about it. I had other things to worry about that were more of a priority. Like my NYE plans. 😉
A week later I’m back home and getting ready to pick my kids up and I remembered. I warned them to take showers at their dads before my arrival as our water is not hot. It’s actually warm, however, as the house has two water heaters and that somehow also minimizes the priority in my mind. I can take a warm shower, which is not ideal, but it’s fine. I think about how spoiled we are to “need” hot showers. How many hundreds of years did human beings live without hot showers? A lot. Now, we’re all just a bunch of pansies moving about the world with thoughts in our heads about what we need. The fact that my house actually has 2 water heaters is evidence of that. At some point someone decided that 40 gallons of hot water was not enough. Whatever. (I’m guessing at the capacity, I don’t actually know).
It is good there are two as I can look at the one that is still working and gauge from that more easily what is wrong with the one that’s not. The troubleshooting for this most recent house dilemma was much easier than the fiasco with my thermostats.
The pilot light/temp control sensor unit has one light which blinks a certain number of times indicating the status. One blink means that everything is normal. That’s what my working water heater is doing. The one that is not working is blinking 4 times, which means the “too hot” sensor has been tripped. There are codes for 2 to 8 blinks and a status for no blinks at all. What did I do next?.. I just fucking googled it.
Have you heard about the windows “blue screen of death”? We might be past that point in history with Microsoft now and perhaps my kids will not get that reference, but most adults today probably still would and so I feel OK equating getting that 4 blink code on the Honeywell sensor to getting the blue screen of death (one post I found online referred to it as the “four blinks of death”). In short, it’s unrecoverable without extreme measures.
Apparently once that trips, the code is permanently flipped on the board and no sequence of steps will reset it. I know this because just about every post and YouTube vid I watched on the subject was put together by supremely disgruntled men using profanity and calling the unit junk. There was one guy who actually accused Honeywell of manufacturing it that way on purpose just so they could sell more replacement units. I don’t think that is too far fetched.
I read one blog/forum thread that walked through the details of exactly what one can do to fix the problem and watched another vid which did exactly those steps and that was confirmation enough for me to conclude that it was legit. That gave me about 3 options. But wait, there’s more….
I’m a busy girl and sometimes I just let things go too long before taking action. Some call it procrastination but I’m going to lovingly call it Living with thoughtfulness and intent. I’m slow and methodical and take a lot of care and consideration before acting. I don’t act on impulse usually. I didn’t this time either. I told myself I was going to sleep on it. (That’s a lie. I actually didn’t want to deal with it at the time and had plans to meet a co-worker on my team who is in town for dinner and drinks. I had a giant margarita and was too buzzed and sleepy to care when I got home.)
Good thing though. I googled the problem from my phone this morning at the gym and low and behold, a different set of results was prioritized for me in the search window. Wow. Instead of two or three similar angry posts about the fact that you have to basically replace or electrically “trick” the unit into a reset, there were two very brief videos on how to reset the error code without a lot of fuss. Winner winner, chicken dinner (maybe). So now my options are as follows and this is probably the order I will use as I try to fix the problem.
1. Use the 10 second sequence with setting the temp dial to different settings, waiting, and then repeating until the code is cleared. This is the new option discovered today and should take all of 60 seconds to try. Worth a shot anyway.
2. Take the faceplate off the unit and tap the electrical sensors with some Leeds connected to a 9V battery. This will require a little more research and is kind of sketch, but if it saves me 125 bucks, then it will be worth it.
3. Get a new sensor unit (yeah, that’s the 125 bucks). Replace the faceplate of the current one with the new one, because the error code/switch is hard wired into the board on the faceplate. I won’t have to replace the whole thing or touch the gas line, etc. etc. This option is called “Frankenvalve” on the post that has detailed description of the problem and this solution. Awesome!
4. Try and figure out how to bypass that water heater and just use the one that works. Shitty for the next homeowner so not a great option.
5. Do nothing and live with warm water until I move/sell, again, not great for several reasons.
So there you have it folks, the plot has been set. I’m pausing on the story here though and will hopefully have good news to report in part two tomorrow (it wouldn’t be right if there wasn’t a bit of suspense to bring swarms of crowds back tomorrow to read the exciting conclusion!😜).
Cheese and ham and toast and jam,