Pilot Steady, Burners won't Ignite

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  #1  
Old 01-15-08, 01:20 AM
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Pilot Steady, Burners won't Ignite

I'll go ahead and apologize for lack of model information. I can't open the unit at the moment due to sleeping children...

We live in SC. Temperature has been mid 70s in the past week, but upper 50s last two days.

I do know it's a Rheem gas furnace with a pilot light that's always lit- and is pretty old- when we purchased our home in '06, the inspector noted "given the age of the furnace, it may be near the end of its useful life." The thermostat is analog.

Yesterday morning it was chilly so I checked the thermostat... room temp was 62 and although set to heat and temp at 72 degrees, the furnace wasn't on. I nudged the thermostat switch towards heat- even though it was already set that way. The furnace came to life momentarily but then stopped when I released the switch. I tried again and this time it stayed on. I don't know how long it worked normally, but around 4:00 yesterday afternoon I noticed it chilly again. This time nothing happened when I touched the switch.

Circuit breaker is on. Fan works in manual mode. Thermostat will switch on A/C. Pilot is steady eddie.

Please help! I literally have about $120 to my name at the moment... so I can't afford an expensive service call. My hands are icicles...
 
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  #2  
Old 01-15-08, 02:35 AM
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You seem to have an old "standing pilot" type of ignition on your furnace.

From what you are describing, the anticipator inside your thermostat may be the component that is causing this trouble...but I would know for sure if you tell me who's the maker and what's the model number of it...for example: Honeywell T87F.

Posting pics of t-stat and furnace won't hurt either...and most certainly please get the full M/N of this Rheem furnace. They have a great website with a well stocked e-literature database of their units' service/install/op. manuals...it won't be too difficult to find all about your heater once you post here the M/N
 
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Old 01-15-08, 02:38 AM
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You didn't give much information but if I understand correctly it is when you "fiddle" with the "Heat-Off-Cool switch on the thermostat that you can sometimes get it to work.

Do you know how to open the thermostat case to get to the wiring? If so, you can try connecting the red wire to the white wire and see if that causes the furnace to light. If it does then a thermostat replacement is in your near future.
 
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Old 01-15-08, 02:58 AM
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Got a model number (for furnace) I think...

RGDA-075C-ER

Apparently the furnace was made in '88.

As for the thermostat- the only thing written on it is RobertShaw. I will post pics shortly.
 
  #5  
Old 01-15-08, 03:29 AM
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I'm sorry the quality isn't great... but it's the best I can do at the moment.
 
  #6  
Old 01-15-08, 03:40 AM
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Disconnect the white wire (from the wall) from the thermostat and connect it to the red wire coming from the wall. This should cause your furnace to fire.

This is a low-voltage system so you won't get shocked. Do not let the white wire touch any of the other wires or thermostat terminals but the red one.

This will bypass the Heat-Off-Cool switch and the thermostat so the furnace should run as long as the white and red wires are connected.

If this does NOT cause the furnace to fire then it will require a bit more troubleshooting.
 
  #7  
Old 01-15-08, 03:51 AM
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It worked!

So does that mean I just need a new thermostat? (Any recommendations?)

ETA- It actually starts the fan... but the burner didn't ignite.
 
  #8  
Old 01-15-08, 03:56 AM
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What does ETA mean? Do you mean it ONLY causes the blower (room air blower) to run? Red to green is the combination that should run the blower.

You may need to check the wire colors / connections at the furnace and see if they correspond.

Darn little to go wrong with the standing pilot furnaces.

I'm going to bed in a few minutes (it's 4 AM) so hopefully some of the others can give a bit of help.
 
  #9  
Old 01-15-08, 04:04 AM
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So does it matter that the burner didn't light? Or is that normal without the thermostat? (It didn't occur to me until after my last post that I got the same result when I just turned the fan to "on" rather than "auto")
 
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Old 01-15-08, 04:07 AM
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ETA = edited to add

And yes... only the blower- unless I'm just not waiting long enough.

Thanks for your help.
 
  #11  
Old 01-15-08, 04:16 AM
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On the pic of the t-stat wires, there appears to be "2" white wires coming through the hole in the wall (the hole that is at the very center of the t-stat) please confirm
 
  #12  
Old 01-15-08, 04:19 AM
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Originally Posted by pflor View Post
On the pic of the t-stat wires, there appears to be "2" white wires coming through the hole in the wall (the hole that is at the very center of the t-stat) please confirm
You are correct.

Err... Correction. One is actually pale yellow.
 
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Old 01-15-08, 04:23 AM
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Okay, I'm confused. There should be a red (power), white (heat) green (blower) and yellow (cooling)

If there are TWO white leads, a red lead and a green lead then there is something strange about the wiring.

Sorry, I AM going to bed now.
 
  #14  
Old 01-15-08, 04:29 AM
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Will be on the road for the next hour or so
(kids to school, me work), but will get back on line later.
I've got the schematic for your unit, we'll be e-talking some more soon
 
  #15  
Old 01-15-08, 04:33 AM
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OK. Coming through the hole are red, white, green, and yellow. The yellow is connected to a screw that also has a different white with prong connected to it. (ie- not the white that comes through the hole.)

Which white should I touch to the red? The one through the hole or the pronged one?
 
  #16  
Old 01-15-08, 04:42 AM
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Originally Posted by pflor View Post
Will be on the road for the next hour or so
(kids to school, me work), but will get back on line later.
I've got the schematic for your unit, we'll be e-talking some more soon
Thank you so so so much!
 
  #17  
Old 01-15-08, 06:07 AM
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Traffic was horrendous on the hwy. Just arrived to my office

Please take pics of the unit with the service door removed. I'd like to be able to see the controls/components inside in case I need to guide you through there.

Remember those pics will be my eyes in trying to assist you. They've got to be somewhat clear.

I have a classroom packed with young adults waiting for me...I'll be checking this forum on breaks and most certainly once the lecture is over by noon.
 
  #18  
Old 01-15-08, 09:00 AM
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Here are a few pix.


 
  #19  
Old 01-15-08, 09:04 AM
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And some more...



 
  #20  
Old 01-15-08, 09:07 AM
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And last... and possibly least...



Hope some of those are remotely helpful.
 
  #21  
Old 01-15-08, 09:32 AM
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no pictures

LadyButler...
none of the pictures are attached to your messages. I can only see the text of your messages but no pics
 
  #22  
Old 01-15-08, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by LadyButler View Post
And some more...



Just wanting to see if this made them show up for you...
 
  #23  
Old 01-15-08, 09:59 AM
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If that didn't work, here's the photoalbum link. http://s262.photobucket.com/albums/ii84/butlerpix/
 
  #24  
Old 01-15-08, 10:08 AM
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O.K. I think I know what's happening...I suspect the firewall here in my school is preventing me from accessing those pics. on the website you're posting. I believe I had no problem seeing your 1st pic early in the AM b/c I was home. I'll be heading home soon (I'm done with the morning seminar I had to teach) and will get back to you then.

In the meantime, please confirm if in your home you have central A.C. in addition to heating.

The problem may be simple, likely a safety that has tripped and needs a manual reset, such as a limit, a rollout or a vent spill switch. Will find out soon. Have you had problems with your chimney recently? (just checking)
 
  #25  
Old 01-15-08, 10:19 AM
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We do have central A/C as well. (Would probably melt in SC heat/humidity otherwise. )

Haven't had any problems with the chimney that I know of. I do remember that the first time I ran the heat this year- sometime in November, I think- there was a period of maybe 2 days during which I had to light the pilot multiple times. I believe that was during windy weather though. I've not had to relight since- except after taking pictures for you this morning.
 
  #26  
Old 01-15-08, 11:23 AM
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Look at this pic of yours [wiring2.jpg], it shows the terminal board

There are two wires, a thin white and a thick black screwed to a terminal labeled "W".

Now look at your picture for the gas valve [furnace2.jpg]

Notice two wires there: on the picture, a brown wire shows on the left, connected to a quick connector on the gas valve; and a black wire shows on the right, connected to another quick connector, also on the gas valve.

I need you to put a jumper wire, one end of which will connect to the terminal labeled "W" on the control board [where the thin white and thick black wires are screwed], and the other end connect to the terminal on the gas valve where the black wire is connected... CONNECT TO THE BLACK, NOT THE BROWN.
This will bypass the safeties, in case one has tripped.

Now get a second jumper...Connect the two ends of this second jumper as follows: one end to the "R" terminal on the terminal board; the other end to the "W" terminal also on the board. This simulates the thermostat calling for heat.
The furnace should fire up.

Next:
Disconnect that second jumper (the one between terminals "R" and "W" on the terminal board). DO NOT DISCONNECT THE FIRST JUMPER. The furnace should stop firing as soon as you remove this 2nd jumper.

Have someone upstairs call for heat from the thermostat...You should stay by the furnace.
If the unit fires again, one of the limits has tripped.
If the unit does not fire, your thermostat or the cable coming from upstairs is bad.

Let me know what happens before we continue.
 
  #27  
Old 01-15-08, 11:30 AM
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Just as an "Advance Premier" the fact that you reported having to light up that pilot multiple times is way more helpful to me [in diagnosing your problem] that you could possibly imagine. That tells me that you have (at least ocassionally), a downdraft problem. That makes the "vent spill switch" which is of the manual reset type, suspect to being the reason why your furnace has stopped working.

But more on that after I hear from you.
BTW in another hour or so I have to leave b/c I teach CCD to my daughter's 4th grade class. If I don't hear from you by then, we'll continue this troubleshooting sequence after my return.
 
  #28  
Old 01-15-08, 11:38 AM
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OK. You're probably going to laugh at me but I'm a fly by the seat of my pants kinda gal. Where do I get a jumper wire? Having never had use for one previously, I don't have any laying around that I know of.
 
  #29  
Old 01-15-08, 11:54 AM
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Well...I did get a chuckle.

A jumper wire is nothing out of the ordinary; it's a length of insulated electrical wire (2-ft, 3-ft long, whatever works), the ends of which are stripped off its insulation about a 1/2-inch or so.

I have in my toolbox something a bit more sophisticated (see pic below)...same wire thingy but with alligator clips attached to its ends, they come in handy (the clips) b/c they save me from having to manually make the connections...one just clips on the terminal [or screw] and presto.



but you don't need to get this fancy. Two sections of insulated wire will do, peel off about 1/2-inch of the insulation at each end.
 
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Old 01-15-08, 12:04 PM
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You can get jumper wires with alligator clips attached on each end at a places like Radio Shack, or some other electrical supply, possibly auto store also.

You can also buy "spade" connectors at auto supply store that allow both male to male and male to female connections (you shoud be able to buy a little pack that might have 6 of these in the pack), when spade connectors are involved. Spade connectors are those terminals where you just shove this rectangular (say female) metal end onto some (let's say) male rectangular end. Other than direct wire-to-screw connections, spade connectors are probably one of the most common forms of connections (along with molex jack connections) in automotive, appliances and furnaces. It is just nice to have these on hand. I recently had to buy some to extend out the existing spade connection on a furnace limit switch just so I could get my test meter on bare metal.

..........

Post #29 must have come up while I was typing. Just trying to help. Did not know Pflor was around (home)yet.
 
  #31  
Old 01-15-08, 12:13 PM
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ecman...
it's quite alright to pitch in...when it comes to helping someone, the more, the merrier.

I'll be leaving home shortly (the CCD class). Those 4th graders are going to eat me alive, I've not had time to prepare the class Will have to make things up...

Lady Butler...the radioshack recommendation for those jumpers is just what the doctor ordered, so if you have one nearby, go get them jumpers.
 
  #32  
Old 01-15-08, 01:51 PM
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LadyButler,, I'm going to leave you in the capable hands of Pflor and Ecman.

Both of them know far more than I in regards to the details of your furnace.
 
  #33  
Old 01-15-08, 04:56 PM
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troubleshooting - final phase

LadyButler
Please take a look at the picture below, it is a parts diagram for your furnace. Please also notice the colored arrows.

One of the red arrows points at part #20, this is a flame rollout switch...it is a manual-reset type switch...I expect your furnace to have two of them. The green arrow points at the expected location of this (these?) switches, and a photo has been inserted to the left of the diagram that shows how they physically look like.

The other red arrow points at part #24, this is a spill switch...also a manual reset type switch...Your furnace should have one of these. The blue arrow points at its expected location

Notice the photo inserted to the left of the diagram, on close observation notice the little red button in the center (nipples I call them). This is the manual reset button for these type of switches. Manually pushing them resets the switch so its contacts close once again (if they don't the switch is defective and must be replaced).

I expect (hope really) that the spill switch is the one that has tripped and that is why your furnace is not working. But could be one of the rollout switches as well. You'll let me know.

And after resetting ang getting it all back to normal, please remember to remove both jumpers....they should not be left installed in place...they were for test purposes only.

I'd like to know which switch is the one that tripped b/c that will guide me into the real reason for this problem. We've got to treat the root of this problem, not just the symptoms.

 
  #34  
Old 01-15-08, 05:08 PM
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asking the obvious

You know...I should have asked this first: When was the last time the air filter was replaced here?

I had a problem with a gas furnace last week where the flame would not stay ON more than a few seconds, and the whole thing was a filter clogged with dust accumulated from the days of the Roman Empire. New filter and the furnace was as good as new.

And of course, the thermostat could still be the culprit, not the limits I mentioned on my previous posting
 
  #35  
Old 01-15-08, 05:21 PM
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And the verdict is...

No fire the second time.

IOW- it must be the thermostat or cable... So...

I get a new thermostat and try it?

Oh... you got here while I was posting. I'll read your last two...
 
  #36  
Old 01-15-08, 05:47 PM
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getting it straight

Let's see if I understood thiw well...

I believe what you're telling me is this:
When you had "both" jumpers in place, the furnace did fire...

so you proceeded to the second test which was:
leave the first jumper in place and remove the second one, that is, the one that was connecting terminals "R" and "W" on the terminal board (simulating the thermostat) while someone upstairs tried calling for heat from the thermostat

Please confirm before we move to the "buy a new thermostat phase"
 
  #37  
Old 01-15-08, 05:48 PM
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OK. Pressing the button for number 20 made the red button disappear, but nothing changed.

Number 24 as best as I think I've found it isn't actually a button but rather a knob unless it was already depressed when I got there and just spinning for the heck of it. Nothing changed when I pushed it obviously... and nothing changed with it spinning either.

So I'm back to the old thermostat I suppose?
 
  #38  
Old 01-15-08, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by pflor View Post
Let's see if I understood thiw well...

I believe what you're telling me is this:
When you had "both" jumpers in place, the furnace did fire...

so you proceeded to the second test which was:
leave the first jumper in place and remove the second one, that is, the one that was connecting terminals "R" and "W" on the terminal board (simulating the thermostat)

Please confirm before we move to the "buy a new thermostat phase"
You translate well! (Yes. that's what I meant.)

Oh... and I just replaced the filter.
 
  #39  
Old 01-15-08, 06:04 PM
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From posting #37 I see that switch#20 had indeed tripped and by you pushing the nipple the switch is now reset.
Same posting, nothing to push on switch#24, which tells me that this switch was O.K., never tripped, which is why you had nothing to push.

Let's run one more test:
I want you to remove the first jumper...this will tell us if all those safety switches are in mint condition and doing what they're supposed to do.
And I also want you to put back the second jumper...the one connecting terminals "R" and "W" on the terminal board.

If the furnace fires-up again, we are most certain that either the thermostat cable going upstairs OR the thermostat OR both are bad...more on that once you tell me the results of the test I just mentioned in the previous paragraph
 
  #40  
Old 01-15-08, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by pflor View Post
while someone upstairs tried calling for heat from the thermostat
And I should clarify that we don't have basements in these parts. We're below sea level as it is! My furnace is about 5 inches from my thermostat... which I suppose has it's good and bad points.

But I digress...
 
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