Help Intermittent ignitor issue RHEEM RGLH

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Old 12-27-08, 07:47 AM
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Help Intermittent ignitor issue RHEEM RGLH

So I am not at all HVAC oriented. I can't get a repairman in until Monday... Here is my situation:

Turn Thermostat on... I hear the unit's start the air backflow. almost 20-30 secs later I hear a click, and see (what I assume is the ignitor) glowing red. After 10-15 secs I hear another click. Normally after this click I'd see the flames ignite and three burners lighting. This does not happen. The glowing element stops glowing and this sequence starts again. So my question....

Since that element is glowing red, does that rule out the ignition switch? I have had it replaced about 5 yrs ago.. Being a novice out here I have no idea if that second click is supposed to spark the heater.... like a gas grill.

Any input would be greatly appreciated
Jim
 
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Old 12-27-08, 09:35 AM
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The Ignitor glows red for a period of time to heat up enough to light the gas. The click after the ignitor glows is the gas valve opening. You could have one off several problems. Your gas valve may be sticking. Sometimes you can tap on the gas valve when it is energized, with a screwdriver handle or an equilavent object and it will open. You may have have a gas regulator problem not allowing gas to the appliance. This can be checked by trying another gas appliance. You could have dirty burners not allowing gas to flow to the ignitor properly. You could have a weak ignitor that is not getting hot enough to light the gas.
 
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Old 12-27-08, 10:24 AM
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Thanks skip for the reply. I will look into the tapping on the gas valve...

As for the ignitor... it looks like a W... and when it glows, only the inner (inverted V) glows... not sure if the whole thing is supposed to glow... I may try to find a supply store and try swapping that out b4 calling for HVAC help...
 
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Old 12-27-08, 12:31 PM
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The outer legs of the ignitor should glow as well and be very bright, almost white, when it is energized.
 
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Old 12-27-08, 01:26 PM
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Well I have the same unit upstairs in my attic, I may swap it out to test things.

If the gas valve was opening... would I smell a hint of gas? Thanks again!
Jim
 
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Old 12-27-08, 01:31 PM
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You may or may not smell gas. Could be exhausted through the venting. Good idea swapping ignitors but be careful because they are very fragile.
 
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Old 12-27-08, 01:54 PM
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Well the ignitor swap went ok... I have now confirmed it is not the ignitor, as it works on the upstairs unit... so if the glow is bright enough... that backs me to the gas valve. This unit was just running this AM... and I have checked all lines so I don't see where gas can be blocked. My research shows this is a White Rogers unit... Not sure if I can do anything beyond what I have done . Thanks immensely for the help... Guess Ill be paying 100+ an hr come Monday.

I did clean the flame sensor... and both Green LEDs stay lit (steady on state) throughout the entire time... so I have no diagnostics to help me further
 
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Old 12-28-08, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by jmulls View Post
Well the ignitor swap went ok... I have now confirmed it is not the ignitor, as it works on the upstairs unit... so if the glow is bright enough... that backs me to the gas valve. This unit was just running this AM... and I have checked all lines so I don't see where gas can be blocked. My research shows this is a White Rogers unit... Not sure if I can do anything beyond what I have done . Thanks immensely for the help... Guess Ill be paying 100+ an hr come Monday.

I did clean the flame sensor... and both Green LEDs stay lit (steady on state) throughout the entire time... so I have no diagnostics to help me further


If the ignitor is still just glowing red, it's probably not the gas valve. I'd measure the AC voltage across the ignitot, which should be 120 VAC or so. Too low a voltage and the ignitor wont light the gas.

I'd also verify that you've got gas coming out of the burner ports to the ignitor. If it were me, I'd use a propane gas match to light that off, which will light the furnace and get me some heat until the thermostat is satisfied.

Too low a voltage suggests a bad ignition control module (circuit board) or perhaps a low voltage being supplied to the furnace.

You really need an honest and competent repairman to diagnose the problem from among a variety of possibilities.
 
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Old 12-31-08, 03:50 AM
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Updated status:
I had to go out of town, and was forced to call in a "Rheem Authorized Service Mechanic". I left him notes of what all i had done myself, and what my issues were... I specifically asked that he check the voltage across the ignitor... He did not do that. Instead he insisted it was the gas valve and replaced it with a Honeywell valve... which really upset me as I went to him figuring he would replace my parts with like parts (I originally had a White Rogers unit). Does this mean I need to replace the flame sensor as well?. So after replacing the valve he leaves... I get home later that night... and the same problem is still happening! So I leave a nice voice message asking for the problem to be fixed "correctly this time"

Repairman comes back yesterday... Tells the wife that he adjusted the gas flow... and that the gas pressure going to the heater was a tad bit low.... so he leaves and the heater again is working. I seriously doubt that gas flow to the heater isthe issue. So I got home around 3 AM to a cold downstairs... Thermostat was trying to get the unit to 69... house temp was 62... Same issue still happening! So I re-seated a few connectors on the control board... checked a few grounds... still nothing. The ignitor would glow red... I guess it may be white ish... but seems more like a red glow... Inner rods only, I'd hear a click... and NO BURNERS. So i disconnected the connector to the ignitor, and re-connected... TADA strangely enough it is working again (knock on wood).

So I need to bring home my volt meter (lent it to a neighbor)... Where should I measure the voltage... at the surface area ignitor itself... or should I disconnect the ignitor and check at the connector (my guess is the latter). Is It safe to assume that I will see 120VAC the entire time the ignitor would be glowing?

Few other questions... Propane match... what is that just a long match?

If it proves that the voltage is low to the ignitor... does that mean the entire board will need replacing? or is
the ignition control module just a snap on module to the entire control board?

Lastly since I have a new gas control... Do I need to replace the Flame sensor as well?

WHERE IS A GOOD PLACE TO GET PARTS?

Thanks all!
Jim Beer 4U2


Originally Posted by SeattlePioneer View Post
If the ignitor is still just glowing red, it's probably not the gas valve. I'd measure the AC voltage across the ignitot, which should be 120 VAC or so. Too low a voltage and the ignitor wont light the gas.

I'd also verify that you've got gas coming out of the burner ports to the ignitor. If it were me, I'd use a propane gas match to light that off, which will light the furnace and get me some heat until the thermostat is satisfied.

Too low a voltage suggests a bad ignition control module (circuit board) or perhaps a low voltage being supplied to the furnace.

You really need an honest and competent repairman to diagnose the problem from among a variety of possibilities.
 
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Old 12-31-08, 07:18 AM
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The manufacturer of the gas valve isn't of much importance. Gas valves have specific functions to do in different types of furnaces, and several manufacturers typically make gas valves compatible with those various functions.

You'd want to measure the AC voltage being applied to the igniter. If it's significantly below 120 VAC, that would explain why it's only heating up to a reddish color and may not be hot enough to light the gas.

Were that the case, I'd check the AC voltage being supplied to the circuit board. If that's low, you have an electrical supply problem, although that's unlikely. If the AC supply voltage is OK, you have a defective circuit board which would need to be replaced.

The flame sensor should be OK. There are no capatability issues between it and the flame sensor.

The way this ignition system works is that the circuit board turns the ignitor on for a period of seconds for it to get white hot --- hot enough to light the gas. It then turns the gas valve on, which allows gas to flow past the igniter and to light from the heat of the igniter.

If the gas does light and spreads to the other burners, the flame is detected electronically by a combination of the flame sensor and circuit board, and the main burner stays lit until the thermostat shuts it off.

If the flame fails to light (as is happening with you), the circuit board doesn't verify that the burner is lit and shutss off the gas flow after 5-7 seconds or so, and often starts another trial for ignition.

The reddish ignitor color suggests that the reason the gas wasn't lighting was that it wasn't hot enough to do the job, which could be because of a bad relay in the circuit board, or a low voltage supplied to the circuit board.

Another possible cause was lack of gas being supplied by the gas valve. The easiest way to check that is to disconnect the ignitor so it doesn't get hot and light the gas with a match when it turns on, or to measure the gas pressure in the burner manifold.

Replacing the gas valve implies that there was no gas coming from the gas valve.
 
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Old 12-31-08, 02:34 PM
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Just had the repair guy in for the 3rd time... Heater worked fine from 3-5:15.... and now I am back to no ignition. I connected my Fluke to check voltage to the ignitor... 120.1VAC .

So my next step is ? I assume I am to the point where it has to be a poor supply of gas. What could make it be marginal like this? Over the past 2 hrs... the unit started itself at least 10 times... no problems.

OK let me ask this. Is it possible that the ignitor may be marginal itself? There are no signs of cracks of any type. But i am wondering if it is now time to call the Gas Company.. Looks like we are heading up to zones 2 and 3 for New years Eve!

Thanks again!
 
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Old 12-31-08, 03:41 PM
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If you have any of those pin connectors inside a jack, either at HSI or the board, remove the jack and try spreading the pin some to increase it's diameter a hair. These pins have splits in them so you can do that. The plastic jack can actually feel tight and locked, and yet the connection(s) inside can be poor. Not just theory. It has happened to me and I found and successfully corrected, allowing furnace to work thence forward. Not that this IS your problem, but may be worth checking.
 
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Old 12-31-08, 04:36 PM
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OK...I disconnected the Surface ignitor... waited for the gas control valve to kick open... then I lit a match.... NOTHING... so there is no gas coming to the main burner.
 
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Old 12-31-08, 04:47 PM
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You need to verify that you are indeed getting gas out of the gas valve for the igniter to light. That the repairman replaced the gas valve suggests that he didn't find gas coming from the valve when he was there.

He should also have checked the gas supply for any deficiencies as well. Just venting gas out the open supply tube to see if there are any irregularities in the gas flow would be a minimum to do. Better would be to measure the gas supply pressure and the burner manifold pressure to observe any irregularities, and to inspect the burner orifices to make sure they aren't plugged with water or debris.
 
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Old 12-31-08, 05:00 PM
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Do you have other gas appliances? If the gas supply isn't steady, you'd probably be having problems with that as well. You might observe variations in the size of a range burner flame, for example.

I'm supposing this is natural gas? Has you had below freezing temperatures while experiencing these problems?

Sometimes natural gas lines or the gas meter can freeze up. A propane supply may not be able to absorb sufficient heat to cause propane gas to form from liquid propane in cold weather, especially if the tank is small.
 
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Old 12-31-08, 05:13 PM
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Yes... I have 3 zones of natural gas heat, gas hot water heater, a gas dryer, gas stove... all working fine. The gas Hot water heater is right next to the heater in question. I planned on asking those questions about the gas supply line and gas flow.. when he calls me back. Really getting frustrated. As for freezing Temps... up until today, we have been very lucky... it's been Mild for NJ, so we have not had any sub freezing temps.

Question... The gas control valve... should I check voltage to that? or it the loud click enough of an indicator that electric is flowing?

Thanks all for your replies... HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Jim
 
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Old 12-31-08, 05:28 PM
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So I Traced the two wires from the gas control valve back to the main circuit card. I found the connector and re-seated it... I also swapped out the air filter (mildly dirty... just trying EVERYTHING). Turned thermostat on... TADA i have 3 burners cooking. Now to see how long this lasts. I may consider re-soldering the wires in that connector. I think I need a Beer 4U2
 
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Old 12-31-08, 06:14 PM
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Well that was a short lived victory... Heater got the house temp up to 70... shut off normally. A while later... house temp dropped to 69... Heater tried to kcik in... never ignited... That is what is so frustrating! What could cause this to work, not work, work again... I am going NUTS!
 
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Old 12-31-08, 07:12 PM
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Well, something doesn't make sense. If the igniter is getting hot enough to light the gas and the gas is flowing to the burner, it should light.

I have to suppose that your description of what is happening is massing something --- which wouldn't be surprising. Being able to be a skilled observer of what is happening is one of the most important skills of a repairman. I've been embarassed when I've overlooked fairly obvious things with repair jobs outside my area of skill that were easily picked up by the repairman I was dealing with.


Here's what I'd do at this point: first, you need to simplify what is happening. Disconnect the igniter and use a long gas match or propane blowtorch to light the main burner. Does the burner light when it's lit with a flame directly, and does it light reliably and repeatedly?

From your earlier comments, this is the point at which the furnace fails if I'm understanding you correctly.

This simplifies the system by eliminating the hot surface igniter and it's reddish glow, which still seems like it may not be hot enough to light the gas properly despite getting the proper voltage.

If you want to do this you should be aware that this is not a method the manufacturer suggests you use to light the furnace-- you are accepting a risk that you could get a face full of flames if you fail to light the gas promptly. If you have doubts about it --- don't do it.
 
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Old 12-31-08, 08:27 PM
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When I use a match I have not yet been able to start the burners. I need to get the service tech back here to check the gas flow.

I took a long lighter, and lit it up by where the Ignitor is... I hear the click for the gas switch,,, and absolutely nothing happens... tried this 6 times.
 
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Old 01-12-09, 05:53 AM
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Well , I finally have a heater that is working again. The poor tech came back 7 times. We agreed that there had to be a grounding issue somewhere, and that the Gas valve... while suspect, was NOT the real issue. We cleaned every connection we could (independent of each other). The unit was still intermittent, so we decided to swap out the control board.

So we came to an agreed price, w/o any labor costs, to swap out the main board... and that seems to have solved the issue completely. While I am NOT happy that I paid to have the gas control valve replaced, I do see the repair techs logic in believing it was a problem. The poor guy must have spent 8+ hrs at my house at no extra cost, and the board cost was VERY good, compared to what I see on the Web.

Thanks all for your help.... I really enjoyed learning about the heater....Beer 4U2
 
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