Avalon Eden / Travis Industry gas fireplace fails again for the 4th times in 8 years with the same failure!

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Aug 15, 2016
17
oregon
Hello,

The gas valve in my 8 years old Avalon Eden (Travis Industry) fails for the 4th times with the same solenoid failure, costing over $1K in repair. Not counting lack of used while waiting weeks for repair time. Please take note and not support this brand. The gas valve is an SIT 885. Does anyone happen to know where can I find the two solenoids (red and green parts in pic) on top of the valve? Is there a replacement valve that is more reliable?

Many thanks for your help!

gasvalve.jpg
 

Millbilly

Feeling the Heat
Dec 13, 2015
291
02648
Have you replaced the valve each of the 4 times or just the solenoid? In my unscientific observation I believe that valve has a higher failure rate than an 820 MV valve. But something doesn't add up with your scenario...
 
Aug 15, 2016
17
oregon
The previous 3 times, the entire valve assembly was replaced by the tech. Even though we both knew it was the solenoid. In fact according to the manufacturer, there is no serviceable part (including solenoids) on the valve assembly. Even though the two solenoids are bolted on with 3 machine screws and seal with o-rings. To replace the valve assembly, essentially the entire fireplace has to be disassembled. So this time, if I could find a comparable solenoid, I would replace solenoid only, a 10 minutes jobs v.s 3+ hours.
 

Millbilly

Feeling the Heat
Dec 13, 2015
291
02648
Can you explain what happened during the failure? Ie did pilot light at all? Was anything else replaced?
 
Jan 9, 2017
136
Upstate NY
The previous 3 times, the entire valve assembly was replaced by the tech. Even though we both knew it was the solenoid. In fact according to the manufacturer, there is no serviceable part (including solenoids) on the valve assembly. Even though the two solenoids are bolted on with 3 machine screws and seal with o-rings. To replace the valve assembly, essentially the entire fireplace has to be disassembled. So this time, if I could find a comparable solenoid, I would replace solenoid only, a 10 minutes jobs v.s 3+ hours.
I would not buy a fireplace today if it does not have this valve.
I have only ever seen 1 bad valve like this.
How do you know it is the valve?
How did you test to confirm?
 
Aug 15, 2016
17
oregon
All the previous times, the tech probed a number of points with DMM, all resulted to the same solenoid on the gas valve assembly. So we had to get the whole assembly to replace. He did not replace anything else. when it failed, remote still work, pilot flame still lighted, stepper motor (pressure regulator for flame height/strength control) still work, etc, everything else still work except gas to the main burner.

It fails the exact same way this time. I am still waiting for the tech to come (another month), though I rather not spend $200-$379 (part only depends on where) just for the gas valve assembly and have it fails again in two years. If I know it’s ok to pull (and put back) the two solenoids (since they failed all the previous times) I would pull them and apply voltage to see if it’s the same problem. I am not supposed (directed by part seller) to remove them.
 
Jan 9, 2017
136
Upstate NY
All the previous times, the tech probed a number of points with DMM, all resulted to the same solenoid on the gas valve assembly. So we had to get the whole assembly to replace. He did not replace anything else. when it failed, remote still work, pilot flame still lighted, stepper motor (pressure regulator for flame height/strength control) still work, etc, everything else still work except gas to the main burner.

It fails the exact same way this time. I am still waiting for the tech to come (another month), though I rather not spend $200-$379 (part only depends on where) just for the gas valve assembly and have it fails again in two years. If I know it’s ok to pull (and put back) the two solenoids (since they failed all the previous times) I would pull them and apply voltage to see if it’s the same problem. I am not supposed (directed by part seller) to remove them.
With a DDM, turn to ohms, and check resistance on the coil.
One contact on male spade, other on solenoid base.
Bad one will show OL.
its possible that the solenoid is bad again, but there is definitely something
else that is causing this.
 
Aug 15, 2016
17
oregon
Brilliant Fingerlakes Fireplace! I am so embarrassed! I really should have thought of checking the solenoid with an ohm meter. Anyway, I checked and one of the solenoid (the one that control gas to the main burner) is open. Looking at the old failed (from previous part) solenoid (also open) under magnifying glass, I saw cold solder joint between the solenoid wire (smaller than a human hair) and its blade terminal. I guess the combination of such small wire, cold solder joint, and vibration (from blower motor) overtime cause the failure.

I went ahead and removed the suspected solenoid that is in the fireplace, and replaced it with the used good one (from the previous gas assembly which has two solenoids) and voila, it fires right up!

So now, my main concern are any sort of gas leak and why the manufacturer doesn’t want these parts removed/disassembled. I will wait for my gas leak detector arrives to check for leak before putting it back into service.

Thanks again everyone.
 
Jan 9, 2017
136
Upstate NY
Brilliant Fingerlakes Fireplace! I am so embarrassed! I really should have thought of checking the solenoid with an ohm meter. Anyway, I checked and one of the solenoid (the one that control gas to the main burner) is open. Looking at the old failed (from previous part) solenoid (also open) under magnifying glass, I saw cold solder joint between the solenoid wire (smaller than a human hair) and its blade terminal. I guess the combination of such small wire, cold solder joint, and vibration (from blower motor) overtime cause the failure.

I went ahead and removed the suspected solenoid that is in the fireplace, and replaced it with the used good one (from the previous gas assembly which has two solenoids) and voila, it fires right up!

So now, my main concern are any sort of gas leak and why the manufacturer doesn’t want these parts removed/disassembled. I will wait for my gas leak detector arrives to check for leak before putting it back into service.

Thanks again everyone.
Remember, you have not fixed it, you have merely a replaced a defective part. What is the reason these solenoids are burning out?

I would start with checking the voltage that control is sending to the solenoid.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Millbilly
Aug 15, 2016
17
oregon
Solenoids fail open and not burned out. Though I check voltages anyway and they are fine. I took the two (one from previous failure that I saved) solenoids apart. One solenoid had coil’s wire disconnect (hence open) at the terminal. The other fail due to a break in the coil wire after about 10 turns in (I unwounded it). The coil wire’s diameter is just about the size of a human hair.

I resoldered one of the coil and that solenoid works fine now. Incidentally the two solenoids on the valve are the same, differ only by the blade terminal. Why is SIT (Italian are not known for reliability engineering) not allowing replacement of these solenoid? Perhaps due to their shoddy engineering of having only two machined screws to secure the solenoid through low tolerance screw holes, which potentially lead to leakage (or block) if one is not careful? Two screws aren’t enough to press down on 0-ring for secure seal with more than one R&R.

I can not believe there aren’t more (these solenoids are in many valve) consumers experiencing this problem, unless it happens only in the Avalon Eden model which now discontinue after 9 years of production. If a consumer is attempting to repair the solenoid as I do, make sure to have a very good (high sensitive, fast respond) gas leak detector (about $100-$150) to detect leakage after re-installing solenoid.

Thanks again.

opensole.jpg
 
Jan 9, 2017
136
Upstate NY
Solenoids fail open and not burned out. Though I check voltages anyway and they are fine. I took the two (one from previous failure that I saved) solenoids apart. One solenoid had coil’s wire disconnect (hence open) at the terminal. The other fail due to a break in the coil wire after about 10 turns in (I unwounded it). The coil wire’s diameter is just about the size of a human hair.

I resoldered one of the coil and that solenoid works fine now. Incidentally the two solenoids on the valve are the same, differ only by the blade terminal. Why is SIT (Italian are not known for reliability engineering) not allowing replacement of these solenoid? Perhaps due to their shoddy engineering of having only two machined screws to secure the solenoid through low tolerance screw holes, which potentially lead to leakage (or block) if one is not careful? Two screws aren’t enough to press down on 0-ring for secure seal with more than one R&R.

I can not believe there aren’t more (these solenoids are in many valve) consumers experiencing this problem, unless it happens only in the Avalon Eden model which now discontinue after 9 years of production. If a consumer is attempting to repair the solenoid as I do, make sure to have a very good (high sensitive, fast respond) gas leak detector (about $100-$150) to detect leakage after re-installing solenoid.

Thanks again.

View attachment 283284
To all the homeowners reading this post:
I do not recommend doing this!
He is messing with components that are not intended to be messed with.
(i hope he has good insurance)
There is a reason that these components are burning out.
He seems more interested in "repairing" the components, than trying to diagnose the cause.
As is the case with many DIY repairman, he is looking at the tree so hard, he does not see the forest. I have seen where a homeowner has replaced the gas valve, because it did not work.
Turns out it was a bad thermopile.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,608
Long Island NY
Does this void the UL listing?
Then having good insurance may not even be helpful...
 
Aug 15, 2016
17
oregon
> I do not recommend doing this!

Well, yes I totally agree with this. Normally, I wouldn’t risk it, home insurance, ul listed, etc, do not compared to risk of injury/life.

> he is looking at the tree so hard, he does not see the forest

What would be the forest? I found the repair/troubleshoot manual and

(https://www.kozyheat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/SIT_Proflame_1_Troubleshooting_Guide.pdf),

followed it to the end where it directed to replace the entire valve when correct voltage present at the solenoid. Everything before the solenoid are working correctly.

Anyway, to work on this sort of thing, you need basic electrical/electronic knowledge, some mechanical knowledge, and the ability of taking thing apart and understand how it works. Though I do agree I could miss the forest when focusing. I hope you would tell me what is the forest in this case.

But in case anyone wants to risk it, you need a very good (not the $30-$40 one) gas leak detector and test (a small cigarette lighter work great) the detector before each (the instrument’s sensor has limited life time) use. I also bought a continuous (explosive gas and co) monitoring alarm and permanently installed it nearby. Incidentally, after decades of home ownership I have never met a gas tech carrying a leak detector to check the work immediately, instead of relying on soap bubbles after being called back by home owner? Why?

Anyway, thanks for your questioning, I took another step and emailed SIT/Travis industry. I will post if I hear back from them. Thanks to all for your time.
 
Jan 9, 2017
136
Upstate NY
> I do not recommend doing this!

Well, yes I totally agree with this. Normally, I wouldn’t risk it, home insurance, ul listed, etc, do not compared to risk of injury/life.

> he is looking at the tree so hard, he does not see the forest

What would be the forest? I found the repair/troubleshoot manual and

(https://www.kozyheat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/SIT_Proflame_1_Troubleshooting_Guide.pdf),

followed it to the end where it directed to replace the entire valve when correct voltage present at the solenoid. Everything before the solenoid are working correctly.

Anyway, to work on this sort of thing, you need basic electrical/electronic knowledge, some mechanical knowledge, and the ability of taking thing apart and understand how it works. Though I do agree I could miss the forest when focusing. I hope you would tell me what is the forest in this case.

But in case anyone wants to risk it, you need a very good (not the $30-$40 one) gas leak detector and test (a small cigarette lighter work great) the detector before each (the instrument’s sensor has limited life time) use. I also bought a continuous (explosive gas and co) monitoring alarm and permanently installed it nearby. Incidentally, after decades of home ownership I have never met a gas tech carrying a leak detector to check the work immediately, instead of relying on soap bubbles after being called back by home owner? Why?

Anyway, thanks for your questioning, I took another step and emailed SIT/Travis industry. I will post if I hear back from them. Thanks to all for your time.
The tree is the solenoid. The forest is the problem of your fireplace not working. As i mentioned before, if 4 of the solenoids failed in your fireplace, there is a problem somewhere.
Check your line voltage. Do you have serious vibration by the fireplace.

BTW i do carry a gas sniffer.
And to your question as to why some people do not use it like you think best is:
1: they have to be calibrated in fresh air, which means going outside, starting the meter, waiting till it calibrates, then go back inside, and sniff the area.
2: a bubble test done correctly is better than the detector. If i smell gas, I will use my sniffer to find the general area of the leak, then i ALWAYS pinpoint the leak using bubbles. If i open a gas fitting while servicing a fireplace, i check for leaks with bubbles.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,608
Long Island NY
Exactly. Much more precise, much more localized, independent of air flows, and hard to have malfunction...
 

RockyMtnGriz

Burning Hunk
Apr 19, 2019
122
SW Montana
+1 on checking for a source of vibration causing these failures. Also +1 for checking for a source of excess voltage/current. What looks like a cold solder joint might be a joint that got hot, and didn't re-solder itself to the colder side properly when it cooled. I don't know if it's the case with gas valves, but a lot of solenoids have a large "pull in" current when the valve is moving, and a much smaller "hold in" current that holds it in place. If it doesn't make the full stroke, it may be a source of the overcurrent.

Sorry guys, the older and more experienced I get, the less I trust the "pros". Though I've seen some ridiculously stupid stuff done by homeowners (who I would usually put in the "stupid" group to start with), in general, I think the homeowner who is committed enough to doing a good job to come to a forum and learn, is probably better than the "pro" who is just interested in getting to the next payday. I'd be happy to offer some recent examples, but if going there, it should probably be it's own thread in the inglenook.