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#1
Old 01-13-2007, 04:11 PM
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Join Date: May 1999
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What's wrong with my gas fireplace?

It's finally gotten cold up here in the (un)Frozen North, and we've been using our gas fireplace more. It's one of those Heat-n-Glo brands, with the glass in front and fake logs and all that. Yeah, a real fireplace is nicer, but I'm far too lazy to build fires.

Normally we press a little button to start the fireplace. Today, I press it, nothing. The red light that indicates the fireplace is on lights up. The pilot light is lit (I can see a little bit of blue flame if I look between the logs). There's gas in the house because the gas stove lights right up. So why won't my fireplace start? Nothing's changed between yesterday and today, and it was fine yesterday.
#2
Old 01-13-2007, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena
It's finally gotten cold up here in the (un)Frozen North, and we've been using our gas fireplace more. It's one of those Heat-n-Glo brands, with the glass in front and fake logs and all that. Yeah, a real fireplace is nicer, but I'm far too lazy to build fires.

Normally we press a little button to start the fireplace. Today, I press it, nothing. The red light that indicates the fireplace is on lights up. The pilot light is lit (I can see a little bit of blue flame if I look between the logs). There's gas in the house because the gas stove lights right up. So why won't my fireplace start? Nothing's changed between yesterday and today, and it was fine yesterday.
I hear you Athena, we have a gas fireplace too and it is a pain in the ass. Bobotheoptimist is here to help! Could it be your switch that turns it off and on?? He usually sits in front of the fireplace and messes with it all. He thinks it might be the switch. Maybe he will post a reply to see if he can help more. Sorry I can't help. I always get him to fix it.
#3
Old 01-13-2007, 05:01 PM
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Well, we've never had any trouble with it until now.

The switch is on a boxy thing that sits outside the fireplace. When we bought the house, there was a remote control, but it never worked right so I dug around in the guts of the fireplace and found the switchy boxy thing. It has a green button that we push to turn it on.

I guess I can go look and see if there's a loose wire or anything. Otherwise, would you please send Bobotheoptimist over here to take a look?
#4
Old 01-13-2007, 05:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena
Well, we've never had any trouble with it until now.

The switch is on a boxy thing that sits outside the fireplace. When we bought the house, there was a remote control, but it never worked right so I dug around in the guts of the fireplace and found the switchy boxy thing. It has a green button that we push to turn it on.

I guess I can go look and see if there's a loose wire or anything. Otherwise, would you please send Bobotheoptimist over here to take a look?
I will have to ask him if he will come and help!
I'd poke around and see if that works. I haven't budged from my cozy bed all day so I don't need to turn on the fireplace. It's 9 degrees here! BRRR!!! I am goinna stay in bed. I'll scream at the hubby to see if he can help further.
#5
Old 01-13-2007, 05:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena
Today, I press it, nothing. The red light that indicates the fireplace is on lights up.
Does the red light blink? Fast or slow? Crank the thermostat (does it have a thermostat?).

I love this one - "Thermopile may not be generating sufficient millivoltage" There you go! That should solve all your problems right there. "Honey! Toss some more millivoltage in the thermopile!"

Here is the manual in pdf, and on pages 21-23 are a few troubleshooting steps to try, including how to test the switch (place the jumper wires across the terminals)
#6
Old 01-13-2007, 05:33 PM
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Athena has left the board........
#7
Old 01-13-2007, 05:37 PM
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Red light does not blink. It stays on steady.

There's a bunch of little knobs in there, none of them marked. One appears to control the fan. The other, if I recall correctly, controls the height of the flame.

Mr. Athena played around with it some and the fan came on. We have no idea why, or how to turn it off.

I'll look at that manual... thanks for the help!
#8
Old 01-13-2007, 05:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena
Red light does not blink. It stays on steady.
Hmm, according to the thingamajig, steady on means "Hard lockout control, failure."

Reboot!
#9
Old 01-13-2007, 05:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobotheoptimist
I love this one - "Thermopile may not be generating sufficient millivoltage" There you go! That should solve all your problems right there. "Honey! Toss some more millivoltage in the thermopile!"
This actually does make sense to a service person.

Fireplace gas control frequently used what is referred to as “millivolt” system. That is there is no external power of any kind to operate the valve, it runs on the voltage generated by a thermopile. This allowed them to be easily retrofitted into places where no power was easily available.

A thermopile is similar to a standard thermocouple, but put out a higher voltage, typically between 500 and 750 millivolts, as compared to about 30 millivolts for a thermocouple. They are a little larger than a standard thermocouple, usually about 1/4 inch in diameter, but about the same length, 2 inches or so.

In fact, a thermopile is basically just a bunch of thermocouples in one housing wired in series. When you apply heat, hey presto! you get 1/2 to 3/4 of a volt at a fairly low amperage. This is just enough to operate the electric valve.

So, like a thermocouple, the hot junctions eventually corrode or otherwise fail, and you get reduced voltage or no voltage. Also like a thermocouple, you find them near the pilot light, as it the heat from the pilot flame that generates the voltage. They pretty much cannot be fixed, just replaced.
#10
Old 01-13-2007, 05:54 PM
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Well, Mr. Athena has figured out the problem. We received a second notice for a forgotten bill from the plumbing/heating company we use. Obviously, they've fubar'd our fireplace in an attempt to get us to pay our bills.
#11
Old 01-13-2007, 06:21 PM
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Did you check the switchy boxy thingy to see if the batteries inside have corroded and leaked acid all over the circuitry? Did you know there are batteries in there to receive the signal sent by the remote?
#12
Old 01-13-2007, 08:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena
Well, Mr. Athena has figured out the problem. We received a second notice for a forgotten bill from the plumbing/heating company we use. Obviously, they've fubar'd our fireplace in an attempt to get us to pay our bills.

you crack me up! Did Mr_Athena fix it yet?
#13
Old 01-13-2007, 08:24 PM
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Mr. Athena played around with it for a while, then decided that we'd just call the place-we-didn't-pay on Monday to come fix it. I'll take a look at the switchy boxy thing and see if there's batteries. We thought of that, but it looked like it was plugged in to the wall. Still, it's worth going back and checking.

Other than that, we both read the manual, and it seems like it might be a thermopile problem. I'm sure if I grabbed my meter and started prodding at wires I'd probably be able to fix it, but Mr. Athena has a deathly fear of anything electrical and/or gaseous and is sure that I will burn the house down/cause an explosion. So I guess I'll just wait until Monday.
#14
Old 01-13-2007, 08:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena
Mr. Athena played around with it for a while, then decided that we'd just call the place-we-didn't-pay on Monday to come fix it. I'll take a look at the switchy boxy thing and see if there's batteries. We thought of that, but it looked like it was plugged in to the wall. Still, it's worth going back and checking.

Other than that, we both read the manual, and it seems like it might be a thermopile problem. I'm sure if I grabbed my meter and started prodding at wires I'd probably be able to fix it, but Mr. Athena has a deathly fear of anything electrical and/or gaseous and is sure that I will burn the house down/cause an explosion. So I guess I'll just wait until Monday.
Sounds like a good thing. Bobotheoptimist likes to blow stuff up. (*snigger*) Wouldn't want Mr. & Mrs. Athena to blow up into ity-bity pieces. We all would miss you guys.
#15
Old 01-13-2007, 09:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badkittypriestess
Sounds like a good thing. Bobotheoptimist likes to blow stuff up. (*snigger*)
Oh come on... you can't say that and not tell us the story!
#16
Old 01-13-2007, 09:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena
Oh come on... you can't say that and not tell us the story!


Board policy prohibits me from answering that.
#17
Old 01-13-2007, 09:12 PM
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Mr.badkitty has made several bombs back in his youth but that was before we met.
#18
Old 01-14-2007, 10:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badkittypriestess
Mr.badkitty has made several bombs back in his youth but that was before we met.
He was the producer of Heaven's Gate??????
#19
Old 01-14-2007, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSYoungEsq
He was the producer of Heaven's Gate??????
Mr. & Mrs. Bad are giggling very loudly right now.
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