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Old 11-12-2013, 12:12 PM   #1
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)


I have a Rheem Criterion II Model RGLH05EAUER (1997 model). The HSI is not glowing and thus, the furnace doesn't light or create heat (I think the HSI is what Rheem calls the "direct spark ignitor" - please confirm if you know!) I had the HSI replaced 2 years ago by an HVAC company (the description on the invoice says "Replaced HSI") at a huge price.

I'd like to try replacing it myself. I have a few questions:
1. How do I make sure I get the right part, and is there a good internet source for these, or should I try locally (in the past, with plumbing parts, I've been told locally they sell only to contractors). I guess I could contact Rheem for the part number, but if anyone has any other suggestions, I'd appreciate them. I assume Rheem tends to use the same HSI across furnaces, because the repair technician 2 years ago put one in & didn't have to order it.

2. Obviously, turn off the gas. I don't think the technician turned off the electricity that runs to the electrical switch that turns my furnace on & off. Do I need to turn electricity off to the furnace at the main panel, or is it ok to just turn off switch (I'm not sure which circuit on my panel controls that switch but of course, could figure it out).

3. It looks like the HSI has 2 wires coming from it for about 5 inches & then there are some white plastic caps (the kind you put over wires when you twist them together). I assume I just remove the caps, remove the old HSI, and then wire in the new one in the same way. Any other helpful hints? The guy checked my circuit board 2 years ago & said the voltages going in & out of the control board is fine. I'm assuming at this point it's just the HSI since that doesn't glow red.

From comments I've read online, it seems like it should be a fairly simple repair (I've done basic electrical wiring but nothing with the furnace before). If I can save the $350 they charged me the last time, I'd be really happy!

Edit: It seems to be going through the normal attempts to light the furnace: 30 sec prepurge, spark igniter energizes, gas valve opens for 8 sec trial for ignition, if flame is not sensed within 8 seconds, the gas valve closes, etc. 1 hour delay if it doesn't light after 4 times.


Last edited by lazzlazz; 11-12-2013 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 11-12-2013, 01:46 PM   #2
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)


comfirm that you have the proper voltage going to ignitor from the control board at the time of ignition....still could be the board if its the old style...ben sr

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Old 11-12-2013, 01:50 PM   #3
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)


Direct spark ignition and HSI?
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Old 11-12-2013, 09:18 PM   #4
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)


Quote:
Originally Posted by veesubotee View Post
Direct spark ignition and HSI?
I think I'm wrong on the direct spark ignition. I think I found the wrong manual. When I look at the picture of the thing labeled "direct spark ignition", it does not look like my HSI. I was looking at Rheem's manual labeled G11-449 rev 08 (not quite my furnace).
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Old 11-12-2013, 10:06 PM   #5
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)


I found this clip on youtube about Hot surface ignitors That is what I have in my furnace.

The video told me that if there's a white spot, the HSI is broken - mine definitely has a white spot on it. See picture in next post. (Apparently, if you touch it, you shorten the life span of it. I don't think I ever touched it, but who knows if the technician who installed it was adequately careful. I'll try wearing gloves to install it.)

I've also managed to figure out what circuit on my electric panel delivers electricity to the furnace (which uses natural gas to heat).

I guess I'll order the part - the HSI that's in there has a tag that says Norton 271NM and it seems possible to find equivalent parts online.

I would still appreciate any detailed advice. I don't really know what I'm doing, but will shut off electricity & gas to the furnace. My hot water heater is right in front of the furnace & there isn't a whole lot of room between the two - that is going to make this more challenging than it has to be.

I also found this video which is pretty helpful, showing replacement of the HSI on a Rheem Criterion furnace.


(I'm putting all this info. in in case someone else comes here trying to figure out how to replace this part.)

I've seen on other sites people mention LED lights that can be used for diagnostic purposes. I cannot find anything like that on this furnace.

Last edited by lazzlazz; 11-12-2013 at 10:30 PM.
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Old 11-12-2013, 10:09 PM   #6
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)


Here's the picture of the HSI with the white spot:
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)-hsi_whitespot_broken.jpg  
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Old 11-12-2013, 10:28 PM   #7
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)


Here are the white wire nuts that attach the HSI to wires within the furnace
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)-hsi_white_wire_nuts.jpg  
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Old 11-12-2013, 10:32 PM   #8
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)


Replace it with a nitride ignitor upgrade, Honeywell glowfly or white rodgers 21D64-2...
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Old 11-13-2013, 12:42 AM   #9
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)


Rheem has interchangeably used HSI and DSI's over the years, going from one to the other, but I've mostly seen them with DSI's. I think HSIs are better, but DSI's certainly last longer.

The white spot I believe means it is broken. Just like a light bulb, when it's broken it has be replaced.

Tip when handling the new HSI: DO NOT touch the carbide tip (the ignitor itself.) When you touch it, it is weakened and breaks, and therefore doesn't work. Always handle by the base, not the ignitor carbide-tip itself.

Last edited by ModelAFan; 11-13-2013 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 11-13-2013, 11:25 AM   #10
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)


Quote:
Originally Posted by hvactech126 View Post
Replace it with a nitride ignitor upgrade, Honeywell glowfly or white rodgers 21D64-2...
I already ordered the other part. But, the next time it breaks (and it seems the silicon carbide ones break every year or two), I'll get this one. Why in the world didn't the technician replace it with the better one? (The cynical side of me says it was a calculated move to get more business. I was charged $150 for the HSI which I can get on Amazon for $25, including shipping.)
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Old 11-13-2013, 11:40 AM   #11
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)


sometimes the universals are a different shape and that burner may not light properly with a different igniter as the length and positioning of igniters is VERY critical on some units. I always use OEMs for that reason and liability.
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Old 11-13-2013, 01:23 PM   #12
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)


Quote:
Originally Posted by yuri View Post
sometimes the universals are a different shape and that burner may not light properly with a different igniter as the length and positioning of igniters is VERY critical on some units. I always use OEMs for that reason and liability.
Both the White-Rodgers & Honeywell Glowfly say they can replace the Norton 271NM - even with them saying this, can there still be problems? The big problem is if the HSI cracks when you're away on vacation, and you come back to frozen pipes and water damage. I honestly don't know why something so unreliable was used in furnaces. Heat is critical in the winter. Rheem lists RobertShaw as the replacement part so the Norton 271NM that was put in 2 years ago wasn't the recommended part.

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Old 11-13-2013, 01:35 PM   #13
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)


When installed properly I have yet to have a problem with either nitride igniter I suggested.
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Old 11-13-2013, 01:43 PM   #14
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)


when installed properly and when the burners and slots are properly cleaned etc. those burners in my experience are finicky too light. usually the igniter sits below the burner and sticks up vertical and straight and flat not sideways so positioning is not so critical. not the best design but it is what it is. they did not have nitride igniters back then. if you read the fine legal print from Honeywell or WRogers it usually says to be installed by a licensed Pro and tested by such so if there ever is a explosion they are off the hook. universals have their place but only if the tech is experienced and I have seen WAY too many hackers and hack jobs and igniters hanging and held in by one screw etc. you need to get your house checked once a day anyway to keep the house insurance valid. if you go away you should shut off the water and drain the pipes. I have had house siters get sick and forget to get a replacement and then the heat goes off. Saw a water meter freeze and explode a few times and flood a house. NOT nice.
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Old 11-13-2013, 02:02 PM   #15
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Rheem Criterion II furnace (1997) won't create heat (HSI probably)


Honeywell has a DIY version they offer at the big box stores like orange and blue

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