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Thread: gas fireplace not igniting

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldDigger View Post
    Unfortunately a residential wireman (electrician) may not be qualified to diagnose and repair an electrical problem inside a listed appliance, and I would be reluctant to go inside the gas fireplace mechanism.

    If no technician is available who knows the gas fireplace (more likely HVAC than plumber!) I might look up the model online and see if there is something simple like a battery needing replacement. And I would be willing to check the operation of the wall switch as long as it is not part of the fireplace assembly itself.

    Do you know if it fails to spark or sparks with no ignition (leading to suspicion of the gas valve.) Also since there is no standing pilot to run a thermopile for electrical power there would have to be either a 24V AC supply, a battery, or a 120V supply with an internal control transformer. Try to find out which it is.
    What leads you to believe there is no standing pilot? Many do have. Including mine.

  2. #12
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    A lot of these things have an ignitor now, no pilot light of old. The igniter likely is a "piezo" generator device; pushing the button stresses a component that generates a high voltage low current pulse that then goes to a spark gap device, like a spark plug, in the fireplace. Pushing that same button ALSO mechanically releases the gas valve in some of them, or if not, they have to turn the gas valve on first, then hit the ignitor and if it doesn't light in 10 seconds or so, the valve turns off for safety. So to try again, they must reset the valve and that can take upward of 15 minutes, depending on the design. They use the same thing in gas BBQs, that's how I learned how they work.

    Either way, the device, although APPEARING to be "electrical" and creating an electrical spark, is not really something in our realm of electrical. It's not really plumbing either. 99.999% of the problems with piezo ignitors come down to being mechanical problems. I'm in the "call a fireplace guy" column.
    __________________________________________________ ____________________________
    Many people are shocked when they discover I am not a good electrician...

  3. #13
    Lots of good recommendations, best of which is "call a fireplace company".

    I recently replaced a wireless remote setup (receiver and handheld) for my in-laws' fireplace. It was super easy, just a few spade clips and bought it on Amazon. Anything beyond this in a fireplace and I'd be calling a fireplace professional.

    Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by retirede View Post
    What leads you to believe there is no standing pilot? Many do have. Including mine.
    "... a switch that sparks on it's own inside the unit" sounds a lot more like a spark igniter than a standing pilot.
    Also energy regulations are making standing pilots few and far between in new units.

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk

  5. #15
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    Quick story I'd like to add... as some of you know, I used to run Wastewater plants. The last one had incinerator, a 9 hearth furnace about 60 feet high. It had burners on most zones. These burners had fire eyes and Maxon valves. They could be set anywhere from barely a candle output to throwing a 20-foot flame across the furnace. Biggest fireplace I've ever seen in my life...

    Ok, that didn't really have anything to do with this topic. .. what does is me attempting to light a portable propane heater winter before last without knowing exactly how it worked. I got it lit, and lost my eyebrows in the process... despite the fact I knew how commercial fireplaces and MY home fireplace worked, I did not know how THAT particular gas device worked.

    Tl;dr: do not make assumptions when gas and electricity are involved.

    Eta: I personally consider working on fireplaces a solid 10 on the liability scale. If you choose to do so, make sure your insurance covers any mistakes you might make. To reiterate the above, call a specialist on these problems.
    Last edited by Little Bill; 03-07-18 at 08:42 AM. Reason: Removed language
    Electricians do it until it Hertz!

  6. #16
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    My small fireplace has a standing pilot and thermopile that generates the power to run the gas valve. No 120v necessary unless you want the fan to run. A standard single pole switch makes the connection for the gas valve to open/close. Someday I will check out the connection at the gas valve because when I get down there to make sure I don't have it set to "pilot" I inadvertently wiggle those connections and "poof', I have fire. Imagine that. They look good. Someday I'll get around to it. Maybe.
    Tom
    TBLO

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldDigger View Post
    "... a switch that sparks on it's own inside the unit" sounds a lot more like a spark igniter than a standing pilot.
    Also energy regulations are making standing pilots few and far between in new units.

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
    I still see a lot of pilots in new units, with a spark igniter of some sort to light the pilot.

    I think there are a couple reasons and the post below kind of leads into why to some extent. Other then use of a blower, you can still use during power outage. It is safer to light a pilot, and sense presence of pilot with a thermocouple then to directly ignite main burner with a spark igniter. Pilot can also be manually lit if necessary.

    Haven't worked on one for a while, seems the last basically you turned it "on" and it was in standby mode with the pilot burning. Then further actions would turn on main gas valve, as long as there was proof of pilot.

    Quote Originally Posted by ptonsparky View Post
    My small fireplace has a standing pilot and thermopile that generates the power to run the gas valve. No 120v necessary unless you want the fan to run. A standard single pole switch makes the connection for the gas valve to open/close. Someday I will check out the connection at the gas valve because when I get down there to make sure I don't have it set to "pilot" I inadvertently wiggle those connections and "poof', I have fire. Imagine that. They look good. Someday I'll get around to it. Maybe.
    I live for today, I'm just a day behind.

  8. #18
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    I should add that my pilot is first lit by a manual spark ignition.
    Tom
    TBLO

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldDigger View Post
    "... a switch that sparks on it's own inside the unit" sounds a lot more like a spark igniter than a standing pilot.
    Also energy regulations are making standing pilots few and far between in new units.

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
    Good call - I missed that!

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevenfyeager View Post
    My customer says the gas fireplace sometimes does not light when using the wall switch. It worked fine today for me. I told her it is a gas appliance, and should call a plumber or HVAC. She said she had it serviced by a plumber and he said the problem is electrical and she should call an electrician. Help! I told her it's not a house voltage switch but a switch that sparks on its own in the unit. How can I help her?? Thank you.
    I write this to (hopefully) add a little bit of information. I am a retired Mechanical Engineer and not an Electrician or Plumber). Our fireplace had the same intermittent problem. The fireplace has a standing (lit all of the time) pilot. The flame from the pilot light heats a thermocouple that provides millivolt power to the switch on the wall. Of course, this millivolt power opens the gas valve when the switch closes. I recently learned are while this switch LOOKS like a $4.00 rectangular decora switch it actually should be a more costly $20 millivolt switch probably with less resistance. Skytech sells this millivolt switch, a timer switch, or a remotely controlled switch for this application. Now, to be perfectly honest, i bought the special millivolt timer and the measured resistance across its internal switch but it didn't seem much different than a regular $4.00 decora switch. Still, I can imagine the Skytech switch has a genuine purpose beyond my understanding. While installing the timer, I decided to lightly sand the 15-year accumulation of residue (carbon?) off of the thermocouple. Since I replaced the switch and cleaned t
    he thermocouple, the fireplace always starts. I suspect that my repair had more to do with cleaning the thermocouple off than changing the switch. Most repair guys (as noted by a previous writer) would replace the thermocouple (which is reasonable). This is is more of an a/c or fireplace repair guy's area of expertise than an electrician's.

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