Weil-McLain HE-3 gas hwb has clicking noise and will not stay fired up

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Old 12-29-12, 08:26 AM
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Weil-McLain HE-3 gas hwb has clicking noise and will not stay fired up

I have a Weil-McLain he-3 gas fired hot water boiler , circa 1987. Woke up this AM to a cold house. Checked boiler and the vent fan was running and circulator was hot as if it was running. Water in boiler was 60 degrees. Turned the thermostat off then back on. The unit fired up properly and got to temperature. Turned on a few zones on to get heat. A few minutes later I heard a clicking noise. The gas was trying to come back on but each time it fired up it would click and the flame would go out. This process kept repeating itself.

What could my problem be and is this an easy fix?

Thanks in advance.
 
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Old 12-29-12, 09:34 AM
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Hi Johnny,

What could my problem be and is this an easy fix?
I haven't looked yet at your boiler manual, but I believe these use a 'flame rod' to detect presence of flame. Just a guess at this point, but that flame rod may need cleaning.

There may also be an issue with the 'pressure switch' that senses the blower fan running but at this point it sounds more like an issue with the flame rod...

Going to look at your manual now.

http://www.weil-mclain.com/en/multim.../he3manual.pdf
 
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Old 12-29-12, 09:47 AM
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I just tried firing it up again. It lights up for a few minutes and then the gas seems to shut off. The ignitor stays lit and after 30 seconds to a minute the gas comes back on and it lights up. Keeps repeating this process.

I tried to jump thermal fuse element with large screwdriver - figuring maybe it's an issue when it heats up. This had no effect on what was going on.
 
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Old 12-29-12, 09:50 AM
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Here's another manual I found... seems that most? of the HE3 have a 'hot surface ignitor' which would not make 'ticking' noises... but this model with the White-Rodgers controls has a spark ignition so I suspect this is your model.

http://www.weil-mclain.com/en/multim.../hevhe3gas.pdf

There's a 'sequence of operation' on page 4 of this manual. Refer to step 4.

Can you tell if the pilot is actually lighting?

If so, do you continue to hear the 'ticking' AFTER the pilot lights?
 
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Old 12-29-12, 10:03 AM
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I know you mentioned something about a "flame rod". The parts list and diagram for the unit lists something called a "flame sensor". The "flame sensor" is only listed as a part for the White-Rodgers ignition system. Be advised that the ignition system in my boiler is the Fenwal Hot Surface Ignition System. Honeywell is a third type of ignition system but it doesn't appear I have that one either.

That being the case, I'm not sure that it has a "flame sensor". I don't see one on the unit. According to the diagram it should be right next to the ignitor. It looks like the White-Rodgers ignition system (which I don't have) is the only one with the flame sensor. There is only one diagram so it is probably showing all of the possible components of the various types of ignition systems.

Hope this helps you in helping me.

Thanks in advance.
 
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Old 12-29-12, 10:08 AM
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Not sure what you mean about a "pilot". Is that the same as the ignitor? If not, where should I be looking for the pilot?

The ignitor on my unit is a ceramic type that appears to heat up with an orange glow. It appears to stay on during the whole process. Should it stay on the whole time the gas is fired up?
 
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Old 12-29-12, 10:13 AM
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This is the product manual control supplement ( hot surface ignition ) for my unit:

http://www.weil-mclain.com/en/multim.../hevhe3hsi.pdf
 
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Old 12-29-12, 10:16 AM
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OK, now I'm confused... perhaps when you said 'click' in your first message I interpreted that as you having a spark ignition...

No, you have HSI ignition.

Let me go back to the website and take a look...

You have the hard copy manuals that came with the boiler?

[edit: thanks for posting that link... you beat me to it!... standby]
 
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Old 12-29-12, 10:23 AM
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Here's the datasheet on the Fenwal 05-21 control... haven't looked at it yet, but the WM manual talks about 'flame rectification' ... that would be what's sensing the flame but I don't see how... unless it is somehow using the HSI element.

http://www.fenwalcontrols.com/utcfs/..._21rev.pdf.PDF
 
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Old 12-29-12, 10:30 AM
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OBVIOUSLY...

TURN OFF POWER BEFORE STICKING YOUR HANDS IN THERE! 120VAC IS PRESENT! YOU CAN BE KILLED!

Yes. the Fenwal uses the hot surface ignitor as the flame rectification signal, dual purpose.

So at this point, a few possibilities:

Either the HSI module itself is bad...

Or the ignitor element is bad...

Or there is a dirty or corroded wiring connection somewhere.

Check the wiring first of course, and look specifically at the GROUND connections from the control to the burner location. Flame rectification works on VERY low currents and any corrosion on any of the connections will cause a problem.

Plug and unplug the connectors on the control a couple times to 'wipe' them.
 
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Old 12-29-12, 10:31 AM
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I'm sorry for the confusion.

Seems like the clicking noise is related to the gas shutting on and off maybe some type of valve or switch that is being told to open or close by some other electronic device. I could actually hear it happening from the first floor and my boiler is in the basement ( albeit with the door to the basement open). When I troubleshoot it at one point the clicking occurred in rapid succession, several times in under 5 seconds. Each time that happened the gas would light then go out. I'm assuming the clicks I heard were actually causing the gas to shut off then come back on. I'm guessing that each time it came back on the gas would hit the hot glowing ignitor and relight until it shut off again.

I have all the manuals and paperwork for the system and I am familiar the system as I wired the system and zone valves, etc when I built the house. However, I am not familiar with troubleshooting the individual components of the ignition system as I'm of the opinion that if it ain't broke don't mess with it. I've never had a need to play with the system other than to install a new ignitor, zone valve, circulato, etc.

Here are links to my manuals:

Boiler Manual:

http://www.weil-mclain.com/en/multim.../he3manual.pdf

HSI System:

http://www.weil-mclain.com/en/multim.../hevhe3hsi.pdf
 
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Old 12-29-12, 10:35 AM
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You may even have a bad gas valve...

Relay 'chattering', would you describe it like that?

Often caused by bad connections, but could also be a defective relay inside the Fenwal control.
(pics in Fenwal brochure show two relays inside)
 
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Old 12-29-12, 10:38 AM
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Thanks for the info. I appreciate it.

I'm going to try checking all the connections and if still a no go I'll replace the ignitor as it's only about $ 30.00. That HSI module is around $ 200.00 so I don't want to replace that one unless absolutely necessary.

If I'm going to be in there is it worth replacing the thermal fuse element? It's only a couple of bucks. Or is it an item that either works or doesn't work - like an actual fuse that blows out?
 
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Old 12-29-12, 10:39 AM
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The Molex connector in Figure 1 of the Fenwal brochure... I've found that type of connector to be problematic over time. That's the one to plug and unplug a couple times to wipe the contacts on the pc board and clean the connections.

Check and double check the ground connections for corrosion.
 
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Old 12-29-12, 10:41 AM
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is it worth replacing the thermal fuse element? It's only a couple of bucks. Or is it an item that either works or doesn't work - like an actual fuse that blows out?
Thermal fuses are a 'one time' deal. But it doesn't look like that's your problem, if it were you would get nothing from the system at all... no ignition, nada.

If you can get one cheap enough to have on hand, I would say pick one up as a spare, but for now, not the problem.
 
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Old 12-29-12, 10:41 AM
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I'd say that the clicking I heard could definitely be construed as "chattering"....
 
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Old 12-29-12, 10:43 AM
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There's still also a possibility that the pressure switch is defective... that will also interrupt the power to the ignitor and valve. Your draft inducer fan could also be running slowly...

Have you a multimeter and know how to use it?
 
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Old 12-29-12, 11:28 AM
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Just got done cleaning all connections and making sure all grounds are nice and tight. Still same issues.

I've got a multimeter. I'd like to think I know how to use it. ;-)

I've already checked my voltage. I've got 24.5 AC volts at the transformer posts.
 
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Old 12-29-12, 12:55 PM
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I would first rule out the pressure switch I think.

Set the meter up for AC Volts,

measure between C terminal on the system transformer and N/O terminal on the pressure switch. This should be the yellow wire.

If the pressure switch is proving properly, you should see 24VAC there at all times. If it jumps around you probably have a problem in the pressure switch.

If that's good... next message:
 
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Old 12-29-12, 01:03 PM
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... then we're down to the Fenwal or the HSI part.

OR a bad ground connection. You examined those for clean and tight, correct? No rust or corrosion on the ground connections?

The test for the HSI would involve measuring it's current... which should be at least 5 MICROamps, but in order to do that test, you would have to break the connection and insert your ammeter in series... which may not be that easy to do, and 5 microamps might be difficult for your meter to measure... unless a high quality one...

Maybe trying the ignitor replacement first is the best bet, do you have a source for parts?
 
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Old 12-29-12, 01:37 PM
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According to the WM parts list, you can use a Norton 201, or a W-M 767A-350.

This cross reference chart:

http://www.patriot-supply.com/files/...rbide_xref.pdf

Crosses the Norton 201 (W-M part number 511-330-190)

to this part:

Patriot Supply - 767A-370

But the White-Rodgers 767A-350 (W-M Part number 511-330-191)

crosses to this one:

Patriot Supply - 767A-361

And apparently there is a Silicon NITRIDE "upgrade" kit available to replace the carbide:

Patriot Supply - 21D64-2
 
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Old 12-29-12, 01:46 PM
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I set up my MM for AC Volts and measured between the C terminal and N/O terminal on the pressure switch:

With the system energized ( but no call for heat from a thermostat ) the meter measured 0 volts.

As soon as I kicked the thermostat on and there was a call for heat, the meter measured and stayed around 24 volts. It fluctuated a volt or so when the burner fired up, staying around 23.5 volts. Might that be because several electrical components were using power at that time?

However, the meter fluctuated a lot when the burner stopped working ( when the gas shut off). Each time the gas shut down prematurely the voltage dropped to 1.5 volts then 5 volts then back up to around 24 volts. This occurred in less than a second and occurred each time the gas shut down prematurely.

Wadda ya think?

BTW: I have a Sears Digital Meter 82140. Not sure if it measures down to microamps or not or if so which setting to put it on:

http://c.sears.com/assets/own/03482146e.pdf

Assuming the meter can read 5 microamps. Which connection needs to be broken and put in series. There are a lot of wires in that molex connector.

Thanks in advance.
 
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Old 12-29-12, 02:13 PM
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It fluctuated a volt or so when the burner fired up, staying around 23.5 volts. Might that be because several electrical components were using power at that time?
Yes, possibly...

However, the meter fluctuated a lot when the burner stopped working ( when the gas shut off). Each time the gas shut down prematurely the voltage dropped to 1.5 volts then 5 volts then back up to around 24 volts. This occurred in less than a second and occurred each time the gas shut down prematurely.
Not good... but it's still not known if the pressure switch is the problem.

This could mean that something in the control is shorting out and dragging the voltage down.

Next, with one meter lead still on the C on the transformer (that's your system 'common', the point to which the 24VAC supply is referenced), place the other lead on the C terminal on the pressure switch (black wire?) OR the Y terminal on the transformer box (electrically the same point), and repeat what you just did.

This should tell us if it's the pressure switch...
 
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