Santa Fe Combustion blower works fine – but doesn't start when thermostat calls for heat

Stratcat900 Posted By Stratcat900, Feb 16, 2019 at 6:00 PM

  1. Stratcat900

    Stratcat900
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    Feb 9, 2019
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    I have a four year old Quadra Fire Santa Fe that's not re-starting when the thermostat calls for heat. I have had this problem on occasion since day 1, and the frequency has increased to the point that the stove simply isn't usable. It's well maintained, cleaned often, professionally serviced twice a year (my tech hasn't been able to diagnose the cause), etc. I've read through a bunch of posts here to try and figure this out, and have checked off some of the common causes:
    • Checked the plate under the burn pot to ensure it's not loose
    • Removed the vacuum hose and blew it out with compressed air
    • Removed and re-seated all electronic connections
    • Have replaced the thermo-coupler this year
    When I plug in the stove and turn the thermostat for heat, I get the following:
    1. When I plug in the stove, the combustion blower comes on
    2. When I click on the thermostat, I hear the click from the stove and the read light indicating call for heat comes on
    3. At this point, sometimes I get the initial load of pellets dropping
      1. Sometimes, I have to open the door and drop an initial load of pellets in – upon closing the door the pellets begin to drop
      2. Sometimes, the pellets do not drop until I hit the reset button
    4. Pellets ignite, and I quickly get a green light indicating good thermo coupler voltage – pellets begin to drop.
    5. Within a few moments, green light changes to solid red – shortly thereafter, pellets stop feeding and stove shuts down (whether or not desired temp has been reached).
    6. Combustion fan and circulation fan continue to run till stove cools down – thermostat is still calling for heat (red light still on), but the combustion fan never comes back on and the stove never re-starts
    As I noted above, have had this happen infrequently and intermittently since day 1, and keeping the stove clean and empty of ash build up seemed to keep it working well... until this year. Welcome any feedback that will help pinpoint the root case so I'm not paying a service tech to try random solutions (like a new thermo coupler) that don't fix the problem. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.
     
  2. Ssyko

    Ssyko
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    Nov 6, 2017
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    It really sounds like a poor connection to the control board to me. all the fingers nice and clean? how does the card edge connector it plugs into look? i use a pencil eraser to clean the fingers on the board then wipe with alcohol. it could also be a loose or bad solder joint on the card edge connector.
     
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  3. Stratcat900

    Stratcat900
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    Feb 9, 2019
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    Thanks for the reply – are you referring to the external connections, or actually opening the controller box and confirming the connections of the board? I was reluctant to open the box given the warning label...
     
  4. Ssyko

    Ssyko
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    no the exterior. of the box(little gold fingers on the end) and the connector
    SAM_1496.JPG
     
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  5. kappel15

    kappel15
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    Sep 14, 2014
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    You are past your warranty, so you can do what you want to the control box. My Santa Fe does the same thing sometimes. It will start, but a little late. Fire will reach 200* and green light comes on. Then hits 600* and red light comes on, and after a bit, the conv fan comes on. Then it will shut down. What happened is it started too late, but didn't go into shutdown mode, till after it got to temp. But I burn a mix of corn and pellets. Blowing out the hose is good, but you also have to make sure the nipple it attaches to on the drop chute is clear also, but don't think this has anything to do with this. You say you bought a new thermocouple. Did you make sure when you installed it that it was touching the inside end of the cover, and that it was sticking into the pot 3/4 to 1" ? How is door gasket? Next time you start stove and pellets don't drop, try pushing on door a little and see if they start dropping. I would also check wire connections on vac swtich, #2 snap disc, for good connection. May need to crimp them a little bit if loose. And make sure hopper door switch is set so it is close enough to sense each other. I had a 1200 that the hopper door was just loose enough that if you had it to the right, no contact was made in the sensor. Push it to the left a little and things would run. kap
     
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  6. Stratcat900

    Stratcat900
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    Feb 9, 2019
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    I’ve tried to eliminate as many variables as possible - I changed the door basket, chacked the thermocouple, even swapped the controller with a second Santa Fe I have that runs perfectly. I now have a consistently recurring error>

    Thermostat calls for heat, and controller red light comes on

    No pellets will drop until I open the pellet bin and jiggle the hinge points, the firmly re-seat the cover in the closed position. Pellets will then immediately begin to drop.

    Ignition occurs, go to green light on the controller, then the red light. Pellets will begin to feed after the green light has been on for a few moments.

    Pellets will continue to feed for a short period of time (5 to 10 min) and then will simply stop feeding, usually right before the convection fan kicks in. Stove shits down and then I have to do a manual re-set and mess with the hooper door to start the process all over.

    It certainly seems to me that the sensor reading the hopper door is central to my issues - does anyone have any advice or insohts to share? Thank you
     
  7. kappel15

    kappel15
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    You should be able to adjust the sensor on hopper lid, for better contact. Or just bend it a little. Also check wire connections. They are inline with the vac switch wires. You can bypass the hopper lid switch too. As far as stove running for a bit and then stop feeding, is still pointing towards the thermocouple. It is sensing the fire to start the feed again after initial feed, but not sensing fire to keep going. Are you starting the stove on medium setting where it should be? Is it getting enough fuel? May need more fuel. Recheck tcouple that it is touching the inside end of the cover, and is sticking into pot an inch at least.These are the only things that pertain to your issue. kap
     
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  8. jzm2cc

    jzm2cc
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    Sep 25, 2014
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    Measure for voltage across the vacuum switch during start up and while running. If you see 110V across switch intermittently then auger will not feed pellets a fire will die out, even with red call light and red LED on control box.

    Sometimes dust gets on switch contacts and causes intermittent open circuits when stove is running, just saw this on a Heatilator last week. Tapping around switch may reveal this issue.
     
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  9. kappel15

    kappel15
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    after bypassing hopper lid switch, you can jump vac switch wires together, to see if switch is an issue also. kap
     
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  10. Stratcat900

    Stratcat900
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    Feb 9, 2019
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    Can you give me details on how to bypass the hopper lid switch? Electrical (wiring) isn't my area of expertise...Thx for all your help. Also, going to replace the thermocouple tomorrow...
     
  11. Stratcat900

    Stratcat900
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    Feb 9, 2019
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    I do have a voltage tester, but I'm a complete electrical novice... how would I measure the voltage across the vacuum switch?
     
  12. Ssyko

    Ssyko
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    take the 2 wires connected to the switch and remove them and hook them together will bypass the switch.

    pull the 2 wires off the vac switch put the probe tips into the each plug (1 in each) set meter to 200 AC voltage and plug stove in and turn on. Note this is line voltage so don't let them touch the stove or you. they bite! you should see 116-120 on the meter
     
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  13. Stratcat900

    Stratcat900
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    OK, I bypassed the hopper lid switch – tested that by restarting the stove and having the thermostat call for heat. First time I did that, nothing happened. Switched the heat off, then tried again – this time it worked and began feeding pellets to begin ignition. Got the proper series of lights (green then red) on the controller and began the feed to keep the fire going after reaching the green light, but once again the feed only continued for a few minutes and then stopped, with the light on the controller box on red and the red light indicating the thermostat was calling for heat still illuminated.

    Checked that the thermocouple was at least an inch into the firepot; that it is touching the inside of the cover and that there was no ash insde the cover. My assumption then is thermocouple is bad; so I replaced it.

    Once the thermocouple was replaced, I re-started the stove and set the thermostat to call for heat. Red light comes on the controller box, but no pellets drop. Tried turning the heat on and off a few times to initiate call for heat; no pellets drop to feed ignition. Given that I have now bypassed the hopper lid switch, am I to assume the vacuum switch is now the culprit preventing pellet feed?

    BTW, I hand fed the pellets for ignition – the controller showed the proper sequence of green then red lights indicating the firepot temp. But no additional feed of pellets came.

    Off to check to vacuum switch voltage...
     
  14. Stratcat900

    Stratcat900
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    Feb 9, 2019
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    Thanks – SEE previous reply re: hopper lid switch. Next step testing vacuum switch – so if I read the proper voltage from the wired, do I assume the vacuum switch is bad?
     
  15. Stratcat900

    Stratcat900
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    Feb 9, 2019
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    Sorry, just realized I had my leads set up wrong on the meter... Just re-checked and I have a steady 116V on the meter plugged into the wires leading to the vacuum switch when the thermostat is calling for heat.

    Can I assume I need to replace the vacuum switch?
     
  16. Stratcat900

    Stratcat900
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    Feb 9, 2019
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    BTW, just made sure the vacuum hoses was clear, and re-seated the wires to the vacuum switch – thermostat calls for heat, no pellets drop.
     
  17. Stratcat900

    Stratcat900
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    Feb 9, 2019
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    PROGRESS! I bypassed the vacuum switch by jumping the wires, and so far, stove is performing perfectly. Dropping pellets immediately when thermostat calls, continues to feed until the target temp is reached. Have ordered a new vacuum switch...

    Thank you all for your feedback and insights... Learned a lot about my stove in the process!
     
  18. johneh

    johneh
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    Congrats nothing like spending quality time with your stove >>
     
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