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Horrible Draft from my Heatilator ND42361

Post in 'It's a Gas!' started by LittleLotero, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. LittleLotero

    LittleLotero New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2010
    Messages:
    4
    Loc:
    NC
    Heatilator
    Mod: ND42361
    Serial: GA1118307
    Manu: 12/04

    Hello all - I am new here and have never had a fireplace until now, HOWEVER my husband is less mechanically inclined than I am, so here is my question.

    We live in a townhome with the Heatilator FP mentioned above. I have noticed a HORRIBLE draft coming in. We have a one year old daughter and the draft is becoming an issue when we put her on the ground to play. Is there something I need to be closing when we are not using the FP to avoid this draft? I looked in our manual and there is no place in there for "drafts" or pretty much anything other than restarting the pilot light.

    I messed with it for nearly an hour yesterday, to no avail.

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  2. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
    Messages:
    5,064
    Loc:
    Averill Park, NY, on Burden Lake II...
    Basically, your fire place is a metal box. When it's NOT running, it'll get as cold as the surrounding air.
    If it's installed in a chase or "doghouse" - which is external to the envelope of your home & unheated -
    it's gonna get even colder than the inside temps.
    Your fire place has a convection chamber which allows for the blower - IF YOU HAVE ONE - to draw
    cooler air in the bottom of your unit, move it up thru the convection chamber & across the hot metal of the top
    of the fire box - where it gets warmed - and out thru the top.
    If you DON"T have the unit on, the convection chamber works in reverse. Warm air enters thru the TOP of the box,
    gets cooled by the metal & exits the bottom, creating the illusion of a draft.
    There are also holes & gaps in the bottom of the unit which can allow for small drafts to enter the room, but the
    amount of air should be minimal if the chase was insulated & sealed correctly.
    Get some aluminum tape & cover EVERY opening in the valve cavity to stop this air.
    For the convection currents, the only ways to stop them are by running the unit or
    rolling up a towel or small blanket & placing it in front of the lower grille.
    HTH
  3. LittleLotero

    LittleLotero New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2010
    Messages:
    4
    Loc:
    NC
    we do have the "doghouse" on the outside of the FP. I know that because I inspected it for seriously 30 minutes yesterday.

    How do I know if I have a blower? Where is it located?

    "There are also holes & gaps in the bottom of the unit which can allow for small drafts to enter the room, but the
    amount of air should be minimal if the chase was insulated & sealed correctly.
    Get some aluminum tape & cover EVERY opening in the valve cavity to stop this air."


    Where/What is the Valve cavity?
  4. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
    Messages:
    5,064
    Loc:
    Averill Park, NY, on Burden Lake II...
    The blower is located under the fire box. There should be a louver or a drop-down door below the glass.
    Behind this louver is the valve cavity. The blower is located at the back of this cavity, behind the gas valve.
    If it's there, the rheostat controller is generally located on the right side of the cavity, near the front.
  5. LittleLotero

    LittleLotero New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2010
    Messages:
    4
    Loc:
    NC
    Thank You, hopefully when I get off work today, I can take a peek.
  6. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    1,313
    Loc:
    Milton GA
    We had the same issue too in our house in Virginia (new house).

    It had a remote start gas log set that had a pilot light. In the summer, that pilot light made the box so hot the glass was hot to touch, so we turned off the gas valve. (small kids - we feared might touch the glass and get a burn).

    In the winter, we'd run the fireplace gas log and blower occasionally, but when it was off, it was terribly drafty. The wind would hit the back side of the house and blow into the vent and into the box. It would come out of the intake grate on the bottom and around the glass doors, so we rolled up a beach towel and placed it in front of the grate.

    The reverse convection sounds right - but when the wind blows - these units allow alot of cold air inside.

    There's no real fix. If you are NOT going to use it during the cold weather, turn off the gas valve. I would imagine you could somehow block off the outside vent? Just be careful not to trap any gas - as this could be really really bad. Have a plumber or someone who knows assure you the gas is OFF before sealing anything up. Cap off the vent and maybe seal it up inside somehow? I looked at mine on the underside and it's got knock outs and plenty of places for air to draft in. We sealed everything with aluminum tape. The cold still got in. Other than blocking the grate and keeping the glass doors closed? I hate these units and wish the builders would put something better in.

    I know they are terribly drafty. My current house in NJ also had a heatilator with a gas log. But instead of a dog house outside, it had a full boxed 2 story chimney. We jerked it out and put in a zero clearance wood stove and LOVE IT!

    If you are going to stay in the house a long time, I'd suggest replacing it with a zero clearance wood stove. They are made to fit the existing heatilator framed hole perfectly. But you'd need to run a chimney to the appropriate height.

    Good luck.
  7. LittleLotero

    LittleLotero New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2010
    Messages:
    4
    Loc:
    NC
    Thank you so much for the advice! :)
  8. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Messages:
    3,724
    Loc:
    Madison, WI
    I deal with this A LOT here in Wisconsin.

    If the house and walls behind the fireplace are built to code, you should get not more cold from the fireplace than you would off a single pane window.

    First you need to check and make sure the glass is clipped on properly on all 4 corners.
    Then I would check the firebox itself for cracks or leaks. Using a bright light shine on all joints and seams of the firebox itself.
    Using the same bright light I check the seal on the glass gasket.

    Then I use a light, mirror and snake camera to inspect the doghouse or chase by looking through the gas-line knockout hole.

    If you see insulation batting, then you have found the problem.

    For insulation to work properly it needs to be sealed on all sides. Exterior sheeting (plywood) -> insulation -> interior sheeting (drywall)

    I often find loose batting in there, or no insulation at all.

    Not very fun to fix from the outside, but its possible.

    If the house is less than 7 years old the builder might have some liability in correcting the issue since it violates building code. At least that's the law in Wisconsin, you'd have to check your local laws.
  9. Fireplacetips

    Fireplacetips New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2010
    Messages:
    7
    Loc:
    Western US
    I am going to tread lightly here because there are a lot of people who have done this a lot longer than I have. the ND42361 is actually an ND4246I. This was their first or second attempt at an intermittent pilot unit. You can find the manual for this unit here: https://www.heatilatoronline.com/downloads/installManuals/4031-550.pdf

    I am not a fan of the intermittent pilot lights. I believe if you keep a pilot going your going to get less condensation in cold climates and less drafts into the room. I believe the use of the gas is far outweighed by the benefits.

    Depending on the serial number on the unit, there should be a switch to change it to standing pilot. Try this and let us know how it works!

    Fireplace Repair Tips
    http://www.fireplacerepairtips.com

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