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Please help...fireplace won't light...can't afford $125 service call

Post in 'It's a Gas!' started by LQGMurray, Feb 4, 2009.

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  1. LQGMurray

    LQGMurray New Member

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    Hi we have Heatilator gas fireplace and it stopped lighting. (It has a wall switch.) From what I can gather, it has some sort of pilot that is supposed to automatically light, but it is not. Any help you can provide we would greatly appreciate. We just can't afford the $125 service call plus parts & labor.

    -The Murray Family

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  2. LQGMurray

    LQGMurray New Member

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    Hi, we have a Heatilator gas fireplace that won't light when we flip the wall switch. It is supposed to have a pilot that lights automatically. The service call is $125 plus parts & labor and we just can't afford it. Please help if you can. Thank you.

    -The Murray Family
  3. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    [quote author="LQGMurray" date="1233724989"]Hi, we have a Heatilator gas fireplace that won't light when we flip the wall switch. It is supposed to have a pilot that lights automatically. The service call is $125 plus parts & labor and we just can't afford it. Please help if you can. Thank you.

    Which model do you have?
    How old is it?
    Does it have a standing pilot or is it an IPI or DSI Unit?
    There's a rating plate in the valve cavity, below the firebox, get the model # off the plate
    & either post here again or PM me & we'll see if we can save you the $125 +...
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    If you have electronic ignition then it is going to be almost impossible for you to troubleshoot yourself - expect possibly to the point of trying to make sure the switch is not bad. You should get a hold of the manual and use the basic trouble shooting. But electronic ignition is fairly complicated, and if something is wrong with it, then $125 is probably the low end of what you might spend...
  5. R&D Guy

    R&D Guy New Member

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    While I agree with Craig, can you tell us which model you have? We can likely find the manual online and try to work through this issue together. If you don't know, then behind the vents/grill under the glass there should be a safety plate/label which has a bunch of warnings on it and basic specs on the fireplace (BTU's and model ID and date manufactured). Please list the model and date mfg'd.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    merged threads
  7. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    We're still waiting!
  8. Mesquite

    Mesquite Member

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    If it's a bad thermocouple, that won't happen. It will not allow the gas valve to open. I would venture that's the problem. Easy enough diagnosed and fixed.
  9. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    If its an automatic pilot (IPI system) then it doesn't have a thermocouple and no you can't light it with a match.

    How about we just wait and see if he ever comes back and tells us the model of the fireplace.
  10. LQGMurray

    LQGMurray New Member

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    Hi all...thanks for your patience...pink eye and a stomach bug are going through our house (3 sons all 5 and under :) so I couldn't get back to you right away....anyhow it is model ND4236I manufactured 3/06. I have the manual and from what I can tell it has an "intellifire" ignition system. Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated...Thanks again!

    PS For those in eastern NY...where abouts? I grew up in the Adirondacks...take care!
  11. R&D Guy

    R&D Guy New Member

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    Yikes Pink Eye huh. I got that once in 7th grade and between the super itchy eye and the torture of having to drip something into my wide open eye was memorable.

    Gentlemen here is a link to the manual online:

    http://www.heatilator.com/downloads/installManuals/4031-550.pdf

    The meat and potatoes looks to be on page 41.

    If it is indeed an Intellifire (IPI) then Craig's right, there are a lot of electronics involved so it is quite difficult to diagnose even for a seasoned installer without a diagnostic program built in to the system. With the appliances I've designed a diagnostic tool (chime or flashing light) is a Fireplace Design 101 requirement for any IPI system because there are just too many variables. So if the system can chime or flash a code explaining what failed (Battery backup, Pilot flame Recognition, No contact with Remote, Pilot leads grounding out, Components too hot, Low gas pressure, etc.) the problem is obvious and quick. With a diagnostic tool you take a basic milli-volt system which is fairly easy to diagnose and make it more user friendly. Without it and you've taken one step forward and two steps back IMO, but some mfg's are more concerned getting product to the market and at the cheapest price to include this simple feature which in the end saves you money with the pending service call.

    *steps off soap box*

    Mr. Murray - Does the pilot look identical to figure 10.2 or 10.3?
  12. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Do you have just a standard wall switch on the wall (Light switch)? You could try taking that off and touching the wires behind it together (they should only be 3 volts DC). If that lights it then you wall switch is bad. When you turn it on do you hear a clicking or sparking noise? Do you see the pilot flame ever light (from your orig post it sounds like its not). Are you sure there is gas pressure going to the fireplace? There might be a shutoff in the basement and also under the fireplace. Was the fireplace idle for a long period of time, could be air in the gasline. That's about all I can think of that a homeowner could check themselves. Other than that you will need a service call.
  13. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    Hey, R&D;Guy

    <>With the appliances I've designed a diagnostic tool (chime or flashing light) is a Fireplace Design 101 requirement for any IPI system because there are just too many variables. So if the system can chime or flash a code explaining what failed (Battery backup, Pilot flame Recognition, No contact with Remote, Pilot leads grounding out, Components too hot, Low gas pressure, etc.) the problem is obvious and quick. With a diagnostic tool you take a basic milli-volt system which is fairly easy to diagnose and make it more user friendly.<>

    Nice! I'd like to see what you've designed...Did you patent it? If not you should!

    <>Mr. Murray - Does the pilot look identical to figure 10.2 or 10.3?<>

    I'd say he could throw a couple of D-cell batteries in the cradle & see if she fires...That would point to the transformer, no?
    Another check would be to ensure the ground wire is making good contact - i.e. bare metal to bare metal...

    Still wanna see that diagnostic tool, or at least the schematic!
  14. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    <>PS For those in eastern NY...where abouts? I grew up in the Adirondacks<>

    Averill Park, here...about 12 miles East of Albany & about an hour from Lake George...
  15. LQGMurray

    LQGMurray New Member

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    Hey...here are the answers I can come up with...we have regular wall switch, the figure is 10.2...not sure if there is adequate pressure or air in the line (how would I know?) ...fireplace not idle for more than a day or two, we did have a power outage 2 days before when we lit it w/ batteries (but I think we lit it w/ the wall switch after that), no basements here in NC (clay soil) but the furnace is gas so I am guessing the gas isn't off, there is no clicking sound and the pilot never lights, the only other odd thing is one of the wires is melted a little...I will try the wall switch trick...what else should I check? Is it possible that there is just an "ember" or junk in the pilot? how do I check for air in the line? do I need to worry about gas leaking out when I am throwing the wall switch on w/ no pilot? Thanks again guys...it's real cold here (especially for us wimpy southern folk :) and we sure miss the fire!
  16. R&D Guy

    R&D Guy New Member

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    DAKSY,

    Don't let me take too much credit - I've only spec the valve systems, like most fireplace mfg's we don't design or mfg the gas controls or remotes. So thankfully these are systems other players can use too.

    Both Skytech's AF-4000 and SIT's Proflame IPI systems have diagnostic capabilities. Skytech uses a chime, and the Proflame has the option of either a chime or flashing LED. When researching the range of IPI systems on the market it was a requirement to find one that could talk to the consumer or installer and tell them why it didn't want to work. The installer still has to find out why the pilot is grounding out or how come the remote isn't communicating with the receiver, but as you know, knowing what the reason is right away is key to getting installers in and out and on to making money again. I require the same thing with the power vent systems I spec.

    I believe Heatilator uses the Dexon IPI which, again this is just my opinion, is a cheap inferior system compared to what else is out there. I'm sure Heatilator's Tech support loves taking calls on this system because as Craig pointed out its almost impossible to diagnose.

    I can understand LQGMurray's situation. My NG furnace stopped working one spring and the last thing I wanted to do was pay some guy $250 to come out between 12 and 3 on a work day or sunny Saturday to fix it. So I went into the garage and saw the LED's flashing a code and broke out the manual to see what it was saying as was able to quickly determine that the hot-plate ignitor was bad. Part number was printed on it and a quick google search yielded a replacement shipped for $30. I'd like to think it was that easy because I'm a freaking genius, but lets be honest if I was I'd be designing nuclear reactors, or cold fusion not pretty flames in a box. LOL!

    I think fireplaces, cars and women, and babies should be that simple to diagnose and fix too.... ;-P
  17. R&D Guy

    R&D Guy New Member

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    Some of our fellow members may be of more help, but some of my Q's:

    - Like jtp asked, when you flip the wall switch to on, can you hear the ignitor trying to lite the pilot? (clicking noise about once per second)

    - What wire is melted? Where does it come from and where does it go?

    - Take the glass off and turn the wall switch on and see if you can hear gas flowing to the pilot. Hear anything?

    I wouldn't worry too much about gas running into the firebox so long as you are not constantly turning the wall switch on and off trying to get it to ignite.
  18. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    The melted wire is usually not a good thing!

    I only ever sold one of these electronic ignition units - and there was some sort of a problem where some wires melted....the factory did have some sort of recall, and they replaced the whole innards for free.

    Sorry to say, you probably cannot go too far on diagnosing this one yourself, You can try the manual and/or a call to the factory tech support to even get a slight idea of what may be wrong. After that, I'm afraid, the 125 may end up looking cheap.
  19. Inside Guy

    Inside Guy New Member

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    LQSMurray: The Ignition system on you fireplace is verify simple to work with. 9 times out of 10 the problem is very simple, loose connection at the module or install error. I highly doubt you have a defective comp.

    If you're not getting any spark I'd recommend the following:

    1. Ensure that your junction box below the fireplace is has power. Important, the 120v to this junction box must not be controlled by a wall switch. Plug a light or something into the fireplace junction box. Try the wall switch. If it's turning the light on and off, the installer/builder really didn't follow the instructions correctly. Not a huge deal, you'll just need to leave that wall switch "ON" all the time and add a remote a to turn the fireplace on. The ignition system is designed to always have power.

    2. If it you have power to the junction box and it's not being turned off by the wall switch, locate a green module control next to the valve. There's a cable assembly. Unplug and re-plug in this connection. Ensure the black transformer is plugged into the junction box. This transformer powers the valve system.

    3. On this cable assembly there's two brown wires. This is your ignition circuit. These two brown wires should go to a wall switch, remote, or fireplace switch under the fireplace. If you disconnect these two brown wires together and the fireplace turns on, the problem is with your remote or switch.

    4. One last thing, we're batteries installed at the time you started having troubles? If so, remove them. One negative to this system is batteries should only be installed when a power outage occurs. The system will always default to the DC batteries over the AC transformer plug into the junction box... even if the batteries are dead.
  20. Inside Guy

    Inside Guy New Member

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    R&D;Guy,
    You do have some opinions about the Dexon:) However, I disagree them... I gotta step up on the soap box now:)

    I like the Dexon system for it's simple design, analog over digital. Sure, it lacks the bells and and flashy lights of some of the newer systems. In regards to diagnostic capabilities, I believe they are over-rated. Once you take the time to understand the system, diagnosing a problem is a "no brainer". In my opionon, as a customer, I don't want to pay an extra $150 for a valve with diagnostic capabilities. Yes it is YOUR OPINION, to claim that the Dexon IPI system is cheap and inferior.

    The over the last 9 years, more homeowners have enjoyed the performance, reliabilty, and cost savings features of the dexon IPI system over any other IPI system used in gas fireplaces on the market...
  21. R&D Guy

    R&D Guy New Member

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    Ahh well good I was hoping someone on here knew this system well and could lead the way. Thanks for helping.

    Let me start off by saying my comments are strictly about the controls. Heatilator makes a great product and are a good competitor, and to be frank I don't want to get online and school a competitor on how to improve their product as I'd rather Heatilator kept using a 9 year old design. So I'll make my arguments concerning my 2005 evaluation of the Dexon system rather curt.

    I know when it came to my furnace trouble as a consumer I by no means wanted to take my free time to try and understand exactly how it worked and where I needed to plug a lamp in - and I work in the heating industry so I felt confident I could. I don't believe our dealer network would want or should need to either. Like my dishwasher all I want to know is what button I'm suppose to push or flip to make it work. Much more than that and I resent the mfg and look for a better product.

    It's just the opposite my friend and your Dexon rep will tell you the same. The problem with analog is as you likely found the remote eventually wanders from the prescribed frequency. So you will turn the fireplace on and off several times from a location and one day it becomes fussy and only turn the fireplace on and off when it wants too. This results in a service call when the consumer is in thermostat mode and returns home to find the remote never turned the fireplace off. Digital is the fix for the frequency variance and also allows for over 30,000 different controllers to be used in the same room without cross contamination. Skytech was the first to combat the range issue in 2003 and provide a remote that had garage-door range. Digital allows the remote to remind the fireplace what setting its suppose to be on. So even if there is a missed signal there is no more coming home after being away all weekend to find your home at 92° because the fireplace was on thermostat mode and never turned off after you left Friday.

    I do question if your last statement about more homeowners and whether or not it is based on an actual study, but I don't have any competing figures in front of me.

    As far as the Dexon system being cheap and inferior I'll quote your attempt #4 to get the unit working, hopefully not during a power outage;

    I'd love to try and figure that out by flashlight in a power outage, or drive out to the vacation home during an ice storm hoping the alleged 2% saved on the fireplace doesn't bite me any deeper (frozen pipes). What did your sales team think of that? What about the dealers in the field? IMO battery backup should be just that, not another reason the system doesn't work.

    Again, my comments are against the Dexon system, not Heatilator who makes a good product. You and I are both passionate about our designs and like you I enjoy debating the pro's and con's.
  22. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    <>4. One last thing, we're batteries installed at the time you started having troubles? If so, remove them. One negative to this system is batteries should only be installed when a power outage occurs. The system will always default to the DC batteries over the AC transformer plug into the junction box... even if the batteries are dead.<>

    NOT! HHT IPI systems USED to do that, but they've come up with what they call a "Cabin Kit," which has a relay that'll automatically defer to the source of available power - whether it be the DC voltage from the two D-Cell batteries OR the household AC voltage.
    I'll admit, the system engineers shoulda thought of this BEFORE they came out with the battery back-up, but they didn't...
    We lost power for 4.5 days after the 13 Dec ice storm up here & my TRX-I kept on a runnin & I don't remember WHEN I changed the batteries last...
    Coulda been a year ago - maybe two - maybe longer...
    Now if I could only get the batteries in my Skytech 3301s to last that long...
  23. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    DAKSY, very few units come with the cabin kit installed in them by default. Actually I think you have the only unit that might have. Current "stock" units will back-feed voltage into the batteries just like the old ones. Only exception would be units that come with the WSK300 (automatic battery backup mode) or WSK-MLT (manual switch over to battery mode) which prevent this problem.
  24. Inside Guy

    Inside Guy New Member

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    R&D;Guy,
    Boy this is fun though isn't it:) I could keep going on and on! Oh yeah, in regards to Sales people... I try to avoid them:)
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