Quadra-Fire Castile hard starting and won't stay lit.

Idowa Posted By Idowa, Oct 30, 2018 at 12:09 AM

  1. Idowa

    Idowa
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    Sep 15, 2015
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    Sorry, but it's a Quadra-Fire Castile stove. Can't edit the title... Bought a very little used Quadra-Fire Castile NG stove for my little 1400sq ft house. When it's working, it will heat the entire house, barely. During negative temps in the middle of winter, it will struggle.

    However, I bought it for $300 two years ago. Last winter, it started getting harder to start. Had to flick the rocker switch "on" switch back and forth a few times to get it to light, then it started shutting off after just a couple of hours.

    I talked to my local HVAC guy and he said to just take the logs out and clean off the thermopile with sandpaper or a wire brush.

    I had to do that every month last season.

    This season, that's not working. Took it apart and cleaned the thermopile with a wire brush and it made no difference.

    So, I assume I need a new thermopile. No big deal, I hope. I think they're around $70. No idea how hard the install is going to be, though.

    But, here's the thing; the stove is very basic and has no thermostat or blower. I have to manually turn it on and off. During the winter when it's close to zero outside, I have to leave it on 24/7 to maintain 65 degrees in the house.

    I was hoping to add a thermostat and blower, but I was told that would cost several hundred dollars.

    So I'm considering replacing the unit with a new more robust unit with greater BTU output and a built-in fan and thermostat. That's going to be a good bit of money.

    So, first thing is should I replace the thermopile to get the stove at least working more reliably for the immediate future?

    Second, is adding a thermostat and blower really that expensive and difficult?
     
  2. jtp10181

    jtp10181
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    Feb 26, 2007
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    Thermopile - that's probably the issue but not always. Will the pilot stay lit by itself? You can test the thermopile millivoltage to be sure it's bad, should read above 400 for the valve to operate. Test while it's on the valve but the switch is turned off. If it's cold let it heat up first. They can sometimes be difficult to replace, depends on how jammed up the pilot is. Sometimes the pilot won't come apart, etc... Often it's easier to replace the whole pilot and you get a new thermocouple that way also.

    Thermostat. That's cheap, get some low voltage wire and a cheap slider spring thermostat and you are all set. Or go fancy and get a programmable but it has to have its own battery it won't get power from the stove like on a furnace.

    Blower. Those will be $200-$300 for the kit. Relatively easy to install though. If you have a very old model (10+ yrs) they might not make the retro kit for the blower anymore.


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  3. DAKSY

    DAKSY
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    Title corrected...
    Your issue may also be a faulty switch.
    I would pull the spade connectors from the back of the switch.
    Touch the spades together if you can get metal-to-metal contact.
    If you can't because of sheathing, use a jumper wire or a paper clip
    to make the connection. If your burner comes on, it's probably the switch.
    As a far as a t-stat, you can probably get one for about $30 at Walmart.
    As far as a blower, use a box fan to see if it helps distribute the heat from the unit,
    before you drop big bucks on the blower
     
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  4. Idowa

    Idowa
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    Sep 15, 2015
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    Yep, pilot has been on all summer, which is about 4 months up here.
     
  5. Idowa

    Idowa
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    Sep 15, 2015
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    I now have to rock the switch back and forth a couple dozen times and manipulate it just right and it will fire. Not sure if it was the switch or the thermopile being finicky.

    What do I connect the thermostat to? I have a 12" all metal fan on top of the stove that works great at heating up the house, but I wanted something that comes on with the thermostat to do a more effective job when I'm not home.

    I tried one of those non-electric fans but since the top of my stove doesn't have a solid flat surface, it didn't work.

    It works great on the wood stove at the cabin, however.
     
  6. jtp10181

    jtp10181
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    If you take the back panel off the stove there is usually two leads hanging down off the switch connections. That's for a stat or remote. Otherwise you can splice it in yourself to the same wires the switch is on.

    And yes he is right those switches do go bad after a while. If you do get in there by the switch try jumpering it and see if the stove comes on easily that way.


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  7. Idowa

    Idowa
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    Thank you so much for the replies! They really are very much appreciated! Down in the teens this week and stove not staying on for more than 3-4 hours so I will have to try and diagnose it. I work 4 12hr shifts this week so not much free time to work on a stove that is my primary heat source if I can't get the complete repair done in one shot.

    I see the official rocker switches are around $20. But they look like a normal on/off rocker switch for automotive applications. Heavy duty versions of those are only around $5 - $8. Would they work? Looks like the same size and everything.

    Edited to add: I bit the bullet and ordered the factory switch. Found it for $12, but charged me $10 for shipping/handling of a part that can be mailed in an envelope with a $.44 stamp...
     
  8. jtp10181

    jtp10181
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    Any heavy duty rocker should work. I know I have had people put in cheap ones and they fail again quickly from the heat.


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  9. wooduser

    wooduser
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    The most likely probklem you have is a dirty pilot burner orifice. When the orifice gets dirty, the pilot flame get to be a soft blue flame that is easily blown around and may have yellow tips to the flame.

    It SHOULD look like a small blowtorch, with one lobe of the blowtorch flame keeping that pilot generator HOT! If that soft blue flame isn't doing that, you can't blame the pilot generator for not generating enough power to open the gas valve.

    So you need to take the pilot burner apart and clean the pilot orifice. Usually that's not too tough a job.

    Turn the gas off. Take out the screws that hold the pilot burner to the stove, and gently bend the piklot tubing a bit so that you can work on the pilot burner.

    Use a small wrench to loosen the brass fitting that the pilot tubing screws into at the bottom of the pilot burner. When you take that nut off, the pilot orifice will usually fall into your hand.

    Some pilot orifices have a round hole and you can use a wire from a wire brush to clean those. Robertshaw has a bell shaped pilot orifice with a start shaped orifice that can't be cleaned with a wire ---blow that out and inspect it with a magnifying glass to see that's it's clean. Sometimes they need to be replaced when they can't be effectively cleaned, but you'll probably do OK. I used to carry a bunch of them to use when needed.


    We'll talk about your stove needs after we get your stove going.
     
  10. wooduser

    wooduser
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    IF the pilot flame is nice, sharp and blue, like a small blowtorch, you might have a bad switch. Try shorting the wires across the switch to see if that turns on the burner. But even if that works, if the pilot is dirty, the problem will recur, soon.
     
  11. Idowa

    Idowa
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    Sep 15, 2015
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    Got the new switch in and installed it in about 5 minutes. Fired right up and is working beautifully! Thank you so much for the help!!

    Next step is to get the thermostat installed. Took a picture of the gas valve and the assorted terminals available. Will try to upload a photo for some guidance on which terminals to use...

    BOsZ_a5sg6JPlsESjda-GVsXEpnI8UMkI_ehWnEphDkpX92IB.jpg
     
  12. jtp10181

    jtp10181
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    A stat hooks to the same place as the switch. You can either splice into the switch wires or trace it back to the valve and use secondary terminals on the valve if it has any. Should be the TH/TP and TH therminals.


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  13. wooduser

    wooduser
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    Usually a 120 VAC thermostat designed to operate electric baseboards can be used for your millivolt gas valve system. Typically fits right in the existing wall electrical box the switch is in.
     

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