Pilot Light Won't Stay Lit......

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Old 01-17-07, 12:49 PM
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Exclamation Pilot Light Won't Stay Lit......

Hi...I've read through a few msgs concerning this same problem where the pilot lights but goes out as soon as the control knob is released. I purchased a mobile home with an Empire comfort system ventless wall propane heater. There was no manual with this thing and since it was a private sale I have no way of getting the previous owner to come help.
This heater has worked fine the last two years but now I am having this problem with the pilot light. I went and looked at troubleshooting on Empire's site, but the problem is that I am a newbie at trying this DIY stuff on a heater (I am a single mom on an extremely tight budget and if it is at all possible I'd like to try to resolve this issue myself or at the very least figure out what indeed the problem is). The site recommends cleaning the pilot (is there somewhere I can go look that will explain how to do this?)..or talks about the thermocouple being loose at the control valve, or not touching the flame, or being no good. I don't want to aggravate anybody by requesting a sort of walk through on this stuff (which is what I need! lol)..so if it isn't possible to explain it all to me I totally get it. Is there anywhere I can go look to give me maybe a detailed explanation on checking this stuff out, or do am I just gonna have to deal with no heat until I save up enough to call somebody out here to look at it?
Thanks for your time!
 
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Old 01-17-07, 01:03 PM
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considering your furnace is propane and ventless it has a potential to be a serious safety hazard if not properly repaired. i would spend the money to have a qualified person come to look at it, once there he can show you hands on how to relight the pilot and such much better than we can tell you. also be sure that you purchase a CO detector with a digital readout if you dont already
 
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Old 01-27-07, 11:54 AM
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Are we talking ventless or "direct vent"

you should contact whoever sells you propane. They may be able to offer help or advice without needing to send a technician. Here's a little background info I've picked up since owning some Empire Direct Vent propane wall heaters. First off, you shouldn't have a heater without some sort of vent, so I agree with the comment about making sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in your house anytime you have gas appliances. that said, here goes:

Gas appliances have a valve in them with three positions. Off, On, and Pilot. Now, gas is a relatively dangerous substance, so you wouldn't want it to come flowing freely in your house if it wasn't being burned off. So, any appliance like a furnace or a water heater that runs automatically (as opposed to, say, your oven) has a safety device. It's an electrical system within the heater that works to ensure gas is only flowing if the heater is on and burning off the gas.

There is a device, called a Thermopile or Millivolt Generator, that looks like a cylinder about 1/4 in diameter, and probably about 2" long, though you may only see the top of it. It is located in the heater such that it is in direct contact with the flame of the Pilot light. When the gas is flowing, and the pilot light is on, metals in the Thermopile actually generate electricity from the heat. The gas valve in the heater stays open as long as there is electricity coming from the Thermopile. Make sense? So, in order for gas to flow into the heater while the valve is set to ON, that whole feedback system has to be operational.

Now, there wouldn't be heat when you first start a cold heater. So, when you light the pilot light, you turn the valve to PILOT. Notice that you have to push it in to get gas to flow, and you have to keep pushing it for 15-30 seconds or it'll go off. That's because in PILOT mode, you are manually overriding the gas valve and forcing it open, and if you let up before the thermopile has time to heat up, the gas will go out.

A pilot light, once lit, can go out for several reasons. These direct vent wall heaters are especially vulnerable to drafts of air from outside affecting burning conditions in the heater. They can literally "suck" the flame out. What happens is that the heater will be burning fine, but then when the thermostat sends the signal to turn off the heater (room is warm enough), the suction caused when the main gas burner goes out sucks out the pilot flame also. Without the pilot flame heating the Thermopile to keep the valve open, the heater won't start next time the room gets cold.

That's one reason. Another is that the pilot flame itself can be too weak because gunk can build up in the hole. It's a really tiny hole, so the tool to open it won't be found at your local hardware store. But your propane company should have a few. It's a tiny, tiny drill bit and you work it around in the hole of the pilot jet. Google pictures of the heater if you don't know where some of these parts fit on it. You may have to use a wrench and remove the pilot jet in order to clean it.

Now, remember you're dealing with gas, so you only want to be taking parts out if you know how to put them back in! You can do diagnostics on the electrical part of this system without taking any parts off. Find a friend who has a multimeter, and remove the leads on the thermopile. It should be making a certain amount of electricity when it's in the heat stream. You can contact Empire to get the voltages.

*You may have a faulty thermopile; check with meter. this would also apply
if it seems the thermostat is acting funny (Thermopile provides current for
thermostats in these systems)
*You may have a clogged pilot orifice; call propane company
*you may have to continually light your pilot light if there are windy
conditions

Hope this helps! Remember again, be safe around gas! If you don't feel confident putting it back together safely, don't take it apart!!!
 
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Old 11-22-07, 09:34 AM
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What is the thermopile voltage looks ok ???

Hi,
You seem to really know that stuff ... Maybe you can help me there ...


I have an Empire heating System Direct Vent Wall Furnace DV-210-7SG.
I can lit the pilot light with either a match or the piezo but it does not stay on after I release the knob.

However I checked all the voltages according to the manual:
1- Across the thermopile terminals: 400-500mv with thermosta OFF
2- Across the thermopile terminals: 150-250mv with thermosta ON
3- Across the thermosta wires at the valve: less than 30mv with thermosta ON

Everything is fine. So basically isn't this telling me that my Thermopile is working fine ? and if yes then why would the pilot light not stay on.

Now there are 2 more questions :
a) The pilot light does not really surround the thermopile as it says it should in the manual. But whatever it does seems to be good enough since I am getting the right voltage, and this is all that matters , right ??
b) The manual says that the pilot light going out when the knob is released could be caused by either a defective thermopile or a "defective magnet in safety section of the valve". What is that ? How can I check it ? And is it something I can repair myself safely or does it involve working with gas lines to replace the valve ?

Any help would be greatly welcome as it is almost 30F here now (4000 feet).
Thank you.
 
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Old 01-02-08, 08:57 PM
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Red face Same Problem w/Pilot Light!

[I am in the same situation you are. I moved into my father in laws trailer and the propane heater worked fine for quite some time. Just last week, I sat there for hours w/ the wall heater trying to get it lit. The pilot just won't stay on for the life of me and we don't have the money for the service call. I just know someone out there has a 5 minute fix it plan. The kids are getting chilly and my oven is working overtime. If you get a concrete answer...please contact me so I can follow your lead.
Thx
Tim
 
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Old 01-02-08, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by frenchguy707 View Post
Hi,
You seem to really know that stuff ... Maybe you can help me there ...


I have an Empire heating System Direct Vent Wall Furnace DV-210-7SG.
I can lit the pilot light with either a match or the piezo but it does not stay on after I release the knob.

However I checked all the voltages according to the manual:
1- Across the thermopile terminals: 400-500mv with thermosta OFF
2- Across the thermopile terminals: 150-250mv with thermosta ON
3- Across the thermosta wires at the valve: less than 30mv with thermosta ON

Everything is fine. So basically isn't this telling me that my Thermopile is working fine ? and if yes then why would the pilot light not stay on.

Now there are 2 more questions :
a) The pilot light does not really surround the thermopile as it says it should in the manual. But whatever it does seems to be good enough since I am getting the right voltage, and this is all that matters , right ??
b) The manual says that the pilot light going out when the knob is released could be caused by either a defective thermopile or a "defective magnet in safety section of the valve". What is that ? How can I check it ? And is it something I can repair myself safely or does it involve working with gas lines to replace the valve ?

Any help would be greatly welcome as it is almost 30F here now (4000 feet).
Thank you.


You have a millivolt control system that is powered by the thermopile from the heat of the pilot flame.


You probably have three electrical connections on the control valve marked TH, TH/TP and TP.


The TP connection is the "ground" for the circuit.

TH/TP is the "Hot" connection, and you'll probably see another wire connected to it that goes back to power the magnet that holds the gas valve open.


The circuit to turn the main burner gas on is from TH/TP to TH. The thermostat should be connected to both of those terminals (TH, you know) and the thermopile should be connected to TH/TP and TP (THermopile, you know).

There can be a limit switch wired into the the of the thermopile going to TP. You would see a connection from the thermopile to a wire going up to a temperature sensitive switch and then back to the TP connection. If there is such a limit switch, measure the millivolts from TH/TP to both sides of that switch --- you may be able to get access to it at the limit switch fairly easily.

If that switch is open, the magnet wont be energized for lack of a complete circuit, and the limit switch needs to be reset or replaced. Some may have a button on the back to reset the limit. If not, the limit will need to be replaced.

If that checks out I'd disconnect the thermostat from TH/TP so only the magnet is in the circuit. Check to be sure that the wire going back to the magnet on the gas valve is connected and that the wire is sound.

If you are still getting 400-500 MV with just the magnet connected, the magnet is bad and the gas valve needs to be replaced.


You could try measuring the resistance from the wire to the magnet to ground --- you may find an open circuit indicating that the magnet is burned out. You might also find a resistance of 10-15 ohms or so, which is normal ---sometimes the magnet just get saturated eventually and wont get magnetized.


My suggestion is that you have a repairman replace the valve. You probably have cleaning and maintenance work that needs to be done, like cleaning the possibly dity pilot light and properly adjusting the gas valve and pilot gas flow.

Incidentally, you get three gold stars for being a careful observer of your system and taking some good measurements which help narrow down the range of possible problems.
 
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