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Efel Propane Stove Problem...help!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Beansgood, Jan 2, 2008.

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  1. Beansgood

    Beansgood New Member

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    Hello! Our normally reliable Efel propane stove is suddenly not behaving. The pilot will light and after holding it for 60 seconds or so, when I turn the knob to ignite the logs, the pilot just goes out. Normally, we don't keep the pilot lit and only use when it's stormy (like today!) or we're having a cold spell.

    There's one BIG thing bugging me, though. We had it lit a couple nights ago and when we hunker down for the night, I normally go and shut if off. It was cold to the touch so I just assumed my hubby had shut it off and I didn't bother to check that the temp dial was in the off position. Now, two days later, my husband goes to light it and tell me the temperature "knob" was turned all the way on high! The stove has NEVER shut off before when lit. I don't know the age of the stove, we bought this place 2.5 years ago. I can tell you it's a Symphony B93.

    If the stove went out on it's own, did the propane continue to run? Would we not have smelled it - umm.... died even? Did it just go up the pipe/chimney? We just had the tanks filled and I shudder to think of a day's worth of propane pouring out without us knowing and I doubt very much that the tanks were emptied. There was no wind yesterday and there isn't much in the way of bad odor that doesn't get past my nose so, common sense tells me the propane shut off (safety feature?).

    Sorry for the ramble... my question is, can anyone shed any light on what the problem could possibly be? Thanks kindly for any advice or direction we can follow. Hubby is handy and we live in the country so if there's something he can do/check then I can pass that on to him.

    Edit to add: Pilot starts OK, thermocoupler is fully engulfed by the pilot light. Pilot light won't stay on. Bad storm with TONS of snow covering the tanks outside. Attempt to light manually produced nothing... nada (as we've done this to bypass the pilot light not lighting up in the past)

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  2. Beansgood

    Beansgood New Member

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    I'm posting a reply to my own post cause I'm still looking for answers and wonder if my request for help will get buried.

    Is it possible the problem lies with the regulator? We've had a LOT of snow lately and I noticed yesterday there was a huge pile on the tops of the tanks. Could the sun have melted some of the snow, then ice over causing the problem. I know nothing about and my husband is "we'll just have to wait and see"...

    anyone?
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    First thing - it is highly unlikely that gas continued to flow when the flame went out.....that is the entire idea of modern gas controls...to make certain that does not happen.

    At first glance, it would seem like:
    1. need new thermocouple - if it does not generate enough voltage, it will not let pilot stay lit - or, sometimes pilot will stay lit, but when stove is turned on, entire gas shuts off.
    2. Connection of thermocouple to valve might be dirty- or pilot may be hitting thermocouple too low (the lower part of some thermocouples serves to turn gas values OFF when it gets too hot).

    These parts are often "standard".....and your LP service person might have something on the truck. If not, you can probably buy a new thermocouple from either a good plumbing supply house or from stove parts plus or woodsmans:
    http://www.stovepartsplus.com/
    www.woodmanspartsplus.com/
  4. Beansgood

    Beansgood New Member

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    Thanks for your reply. If you could just bear with me further... sorry, but I believe the only dumb question is the one not asked.

    If the thermocouple is at fault, does that mean we can't bypass the pilot and light the stove manually? We couldn't get the pilot to light one time, so my husband was able to bypass the piot light the burners. The contact(s) have been cleaned and pilot lights up fine now but if I'm understanding you correctly, then the faulty thermocouple is not allowing propane to flow? I don't know if I making sense, here. I hope so.
  5. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Never attempt to bypass anything.....and light the burner!

    Assuming yours is a normal gas valve, the logic works like this:

    1. You hold the knob in and light the pilot
    The stove says" OK, knob is being depressed by a human, so allow a LITTLE bit of gas to flow"
    2. Pilot heats up thermocouple, which then sends a small electric current back to gas valve
    The stove says "Hey, I'm getting some electric, which means the gas has lit, so I will let a little bit of gas flow to the pilot even if the human has let the knob out".
    3. You turn valve to on position. Then you turn on switch or thermostat to ignite burner
    Stove says "Let the BIG gas flow as long as the pilot stays lit and generates electric - because if my pilot is lit, then hopefully it also is igniting the main gas flow".

    Some stoves have additional controls which do stuff like shut down the main burner if it gets too hot, etc.

    Since the thermocouple actually powers a magnet in the gas valve, if it is weak it may allow the pilot to ignite but when the burner ignites and takes bit of gas flow (and therefore generating capacity) out of the thermocouple, then the whole thing may shut down.

    Please see:
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/articles/how_gas_works

    Note that many stoves have multiple thermocouples or thermopiles (larger)....as in the diagram there.
  6. Beansgood

    Beansgood New Member

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    That all makes perfect sense but when you mention the word "electric" I can't help but wonder why we are able to fire up the propane stove when the power goes out. It's our back-up for just that, not to mention extra cold and windy days.

    I think I did mention the model in my original post.
  7. JimWalshin845

    JimWalshin845 New Member

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    The 'electric' being generated is created by the thermocoupler and heat against it, not by the grid power from your electric company. That is why your gas unit will work during a power outage when you manually start the stove. Thermocouples are only $10-15 and usually not that difficult to install. Besides plumbing supply stores they are carried at appliance parts stores also. Bring in your old one and they should be able to match it up for you.
  8. Beansgood

    Beansgood New Member

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    Wonderful! I'm sure my hubby will be able to handle that and as for my question about the "electric", well... I wonder if I should be embarassed for asking, but this is how I learn. Thanks for the help. I'll update what the problem was once we get it resolved.
  9. JimWalshin845

    JimWalshin845 New Member

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    No, not at all, you said it correctly when you stated, "… sorry, but I believe the only dumb question is the one not asked." So you are really showing how brilliant you are.

    Let us know how you made out!
  10. Beansgood

    Beansgood New Member

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    Well, hubby took apart/out the thermocouple (or was it the thermopile) and brought it to the nearest hardware store. They had no clue what it was or what my hubby was talking about (hubby didn't know the make/model of the stove, he just brought the part in). So, one guy calls this place north of here and bottom line is my husband has to go there (nearly getting killed, I must add, when a trailer came loose from it's truck... hubby saw "something" not right before it came loose and being a common sense kind of guy, he was able to avoid the runaway trailer after doing a 360 or so on the 100 km highway) ahem... as I was saying - He goes to this fireplace store and these guys are clueless... "what's a thermocouple?" Seems they sell parts but don't know what they are or ......

    Since hubby has the part, they bring out part after part trying to make a match to the two ends. I think our part ends up to be a thermopile??? It has two prongs that come out of the main wire in the copper hosing. Anyway, they match the two ends but don't have a part with the two prongs (I know my terminology is wrong) but hubby is smarter than the average bear and tells them he can alter the part and add those two prong thingies but this guy tells him... "No, that copper housing transfers propane and there are no wires in it". Hubby is looking at our part and the matched part and KNOWS it contains a wire inside and tells them that he can make it work. They tell him he can't and if he messes with the part he can't return it. That part cost $40 before taxes and hubby says he'll take his chances. They even tried to stop him from buying the part. Weird.

    So, the smart man that I married proceeds to do exactly what they said he couldn't and we have propane heat. That smart man that I married even gave me credit for helping to solve the probem. That is to say, I came here, inquried, got answers and passed them on to hubby who acted on that advice.

    Thanks very much... I pass the credit on and my warm toasty toes thank you, too. We might be adding another heat source to a mudroom that we're hoping to do this year so I may be back. Meanwhile, I'm grateful for the great help I've received here.
  11. JimWalshin845

    JimWalshin845 New Member

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    Please go and find the correct part. Even though hubby found a replacement, heating appliances are rated for a specific amperage as per the thermocouple. There is no gas that is transported by it, but geeeeeshhhh... sounds like you may be a disaster waiting to happen.
  12. Beansgood

    Beansgood New Member

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    I'm not sure I understand the danger. The part is an exact match, the two prongs were taken from the old part and splice onto the new part exactly the same way. It works. Where is the danger? You make it sound like rocket science and where are the specs on amperage on either the old part, the new part, etc. If it's that "dangerous" then the amperage and so forth should be clearly spelled out on parts and shouldn't be a guessing game when trying to find replacement parts.
  13. JimWalshin845

    JimWalshin845 New Member

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    If they are OEM from the factory, no problem. If you have the manual and they match up with part #s... No Problem... If you jury rigged something.. You may have a BIG PROBLEM.

    Thermocouples are made specificly to cut off the gas supply to your appliance. If not correctly sized they will NOT do the job they are suppose to.
  14. Beansgood

    Beansgood New Member

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    Well... the part is installed, we fired up the stove and it's working fine. We only run it for short periods. I relayed the info you gave to my husband and he suggested I turn the propane off (the valve behind the stove), so I did.

    The first reply I received was that the part was pretty much standard so we didn't foresee an issue. This is stressful.

    The part no. on the package is KING1000P136WR (says thermopile) and the number on the old part is SIT 9437 0270501, the stove is an EFEL Symphany B93 so is there anyway I can find this out on the internet?

    We can't get much help here in Eastern Canada where folks don't know squat about what we need. As well, there in no manual that I know of unless my neighbour has it... this was his mom's house and the stove was originally his.
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