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Flame Rollout on a Water Heater | Defects Defined

Flame rollout is a dangerous problem that can occur with gas water heaters. It happens when the flame from the burner extends beyond the heat exchanger and reaches other parts of the water heater, such as the flue pipe or the combustion chamber. This can lead to a buildup of heat and potentially cause a fire or an explosion.






It happens when the flame from the burner extends beyond the heat exchanger and reaches other parts of the water heater,

What causes flame rollout?

There are a few different factors that can cause flame rollout to occur:

  1. Blocked air vents: If the air vents on the water heater become clogged or blocked, it can prevent the proper flow of air to the burner. This can cause the flame to burn irregularly and extend beyond the heat exchanger.

  2. Damaged heat exchanger: The heat exchanger is the part of the water heater that transfers heat from the burner to the water. If the heat exchanger becomes damaged, it can cause the flame to spread beyond the heat exchanger and reach other parts of the water heater.

  3. Malfunctioning gas valve: The gas valve is responsible for controlling the flow of gas to the burner. If the gas valve is not functioning properly, it can cause the flame to burn irregularly and extend beyond the heat exchanger.


Flame Rollout on a water heater


How to spot flame rollout?

There are a few signs that you can look out for that may indicate that flame rollout is occurring:

  1. Burning smell: If you notice a burning smell coming from your water heater, it could be a sign that the flame is extending beyond the heat exchanger and reaching other parts of the water heater.

  2. Soot or burn marks: Check the outside of your water heater for any signs of soot or burn marks. This could indicate that the flame is not burning properly and is spreading beyond the heat exchanger.

  3. Yellow or flickering flame: The flame on your water heater should be blue and steady. If you notice a yellow or flickering flame, it could be a sign that the flame is not burning properly and is extending beyond the heat exchanger.

How to solve flame rollout?

If you suspect that your water heater is experiencing flame rollout, it is important to take action immediately to prevent any potential danger. Here are a few steps you can take to solve flame rollout:

  1. Turn off the water heater: If you suspect that flame rollout is occurring, turn off the water heater immediately.

  2. Call a professional: Do not attempt to fix the problem yourself. Instead, call a licensed plumber or HVAC technician to come and inspect your water heater. They will be able to diagnose the problem and make the necessary repairs.

  3. Regular maintenance: To prevent flame rollout from occurring in the future, it is important to have your water heater regularly maintained by a professional. This can help to identify any potential problems before they become serious issues.


In conclusion, flame rollout is a serious problem that can be dangerous if left untreated. By understanding the causes and symptoms of flame rollout, you can take steps to prevent it from occurring and keep your home safe. Remember, always consult with a professional if you suspect that your water heater is experiencing flame rollout.



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