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Old 11-02-2013, 11:44 AM   #1
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Trying to troubleshoot a gas fireplace, need help


Hi all,

I'm trying to troubleshoot my gas fireplace (actually it's propane, as we don't have gas mains in our area).

The fireplace is about 15 years old. It worked fine until last year, when it started having trouble lighting. This fireplace has an on/off switch in the wall, and we would have to toggle the switch multiple times until the fireplace finally caught. This got progressively worse, but by that time it was spring, so I just shut off the gas supply valve and left it.

This autumn I decided to try to get it to work. First problem: the pilot light wouldn't light. This fireplace has a three-way pilot light, one light for the thermocouple, one for the thermopile, and one to light the fireplace. I replaced the thermocouple, and that solved the pilot light issue. So now the pilot comes on and stays on great.

But the original problem - that the main burners wouldn't light - was still there. I checked that the wall switch does what it's supposed to, and it appear fine, the multimeter reads open when the switch is off and reads 1.5 ohms when its closed.

Next I checked the thermopile. It seemed questionable, was reading around 450 millivolts, so I replaced it. However, the new one only reads 475 millivolt, so I'm not entirely sure that was the problem. I've read in some places that the thermopile should read around 500 millivolts, and in others that it should read 750.

I tried the trick of heating the thermocouple up with a match, and I can get it to read as high as ~610 millivolts, but that seems to make no difference to the valve.

So next I replaced the valve itself. However, this seems to have changed absolutely nothing - the fireplace is exhibiting exactly the same symptoms.

I find it strange that the fireplace now has a new thermocouple, a new thermopile, and a new gas valve, and still is behaving exactly the same as it was before. But I'm at the end of my rope, and in need of suggestions for what to do next.

Also: the main fireplace burned doesn't appear to have a gas fitting on it, it's just an open tube that fits loosely into a flange that comes from the valve. Is this right?

Thanks for any help.

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Old 11-02-2013, 12:11 PM   #2
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Trying to troubleshoot a gas fireplace, need help


Sounds like the switch. Have you tried connecting the two leads of the switch together? It can also be any of the connections in the loop. You can bypass it all to test by connecting the two in the circuit on the valve, TH and TH/TP.

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Old 11-02-2013, 03:06 PM   #3
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Trying to troubleshoot a gas fireplace, need help


That did it! I had tried it before, but not since replacing the thermopile. So I cleaned the contacts, and it lights. Kinda sucks that I probably didn't need to buy a new valve, but I guess on the bright side I now have completely new fireplace innards...

Thanks for the help!
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Old 11-03-2013, 06:48 AM   #4
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Trying to troubleshoot a gas fireplace, need help


Quote:
Originally Posted by glenh View Post
That did it! I had tried it before, but not since replacing the thermopile. So I cleaned the contacts, and it lights. Kinda sucks that I probably didn't need to buy a new valve, but I guess on the bright side I now have completely new fireplace innards...

Thanks for the help!
You bet, glad it worked for you. I would replace that switch if that's where you are getting your resistance reading. As you know, the circuit is in milivolts so any resistance can impede the operation. Switches are cheap...unlike the gas valve! At least you saved money doing it yourself.
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