Can replacing a gas valve on furnace be a DIY project?


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Old 04-15-09, 06:18 AM
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Can replacing a gas valve on furnace be a DIY project?

Hi forum.
Before i decide to can my 40 year old Rheem propane furnace, im hoping to attempt one last repair.
Heres the deal. Propane furnace is in the crawl space of my summer cabin. Over the years ive replaced the thermo couple a few times along with honeywell pilot burner assembly (Q314) once. Im experiencing delayed ignition when thermostat turned up. Furnace is only used in spring and late fall and gas to it is turned off when not in use. Crawl space is prone for high humidity in summer and has sandy floor. Furnace itself is horizontal mounted,requires crawling on stomach thru foundation opening to get to etc etc. You would almost think they built the cabin around the furnace! anyway, by delayed ignition, pilot lit, turn thermostat up, you hear a giant WHOOSHING" sound . if you dont turn the thermostat down IMMEDIATLY, chances are gas will ignite a couple seconds later to a LOUD KABOOM..kinda like a BBQ grill that doesnt ignite the first couple trys and then suddenly the ignitor sparks and the built up gas ignites...When this has happened over the past twenty years (only a couple times) Ive always been able to remove the burner assembly, put it on the work bench, blow out accumlated sand and soot, clean the gap in the burner element by the pilot, reinstall and everything works great for several years, until its time to clean it again. This year, its happening more often then not, even after a cleaning, Ive just replaced the pilot burner assembly and will try it out in two weeks when i return to the cabin. If that doesnt cure problem, the only thing left would be the gas valve (honeywell D800A1476), leading me to my original question. Since this is the only thing between the gas tank and the burners, can a handy kinda guy like myself replace that Gas Valve (after i convert it to propane which appears to be a straight forward procedure) maybe buy a cheap water manometer for adjustment and feel safe everything is ok? Before you say 'call a professional" let me tell you, I have over the years have had 2 different H/C people in thier. Neither one of them have actually crawled in the space to work on the furnace. Since the cabin is right on a lake, out in the boonies, they both came over, listened to my problem, took a look inside the crawl space opening and said " its probably rusted out, you need a new furnace", let me give you an estimate on a nice wall unit for the main floor"...That was 15 years ago and furnace stil works except for occasional cleaning/problem ive been talking about....help me out forum...give me some ideas. Should i shoot for gas valve replacement (either by me or professional) or just try and get someone to replace that crawl space furnace with something new?(ductwork is in crawl space , would like to connect new furnace to existing duct work if possible)..thanks.. PS. when the unit is working normally (which is 99 percent of the time,except for occasional problem listed) it purrs right along, its been a workhorse,which is why i would like to keep it operational if possible).
 

Last edited by alkazoo; 04-15-09 at 06:44 AM.
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Old 04-15-09, 06:39 AM
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To answer your 1st question, with switching it to propane, unless you know what your doing and are comfortable doing it, I wouldn't.

You very well may have a cracked heat exchanger, I would chk that first !
 
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Old 04-15-09, 07:22 AM
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Frankly, I'd be scared to death of any old propane furnace that had such a bad delayed ignition problem that you describe it lighting off as "KABOOM". Add the fact that its in a crawl space where you can't beat a hasty retreat without crawling out on your belly, and you have a recipe for disaster, in my opinion. Propane is heavier than air, so any accumulation will hang around the crawl space, so the risk of an explosion is very real.

If it were me, I'd abandon that furnace pronto and go to some other type of heat that's more serviceable and safer.
 
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Old 04-15-09, 08:03 AM
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thanks guys. I will get a recommended Company to come in and check it out. I will do it under the pretense of can it be fixed/saved? if not, what are my options for a new heating system? Space is limited on the main floor, hopefully they can figure something out to use existing ductwork, since the water pipes are in the crawl space and are kept from freezing by the furnace running (late fall and in the winter if i go up there)..thanks again..alkazoo
 
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Old 04-15-09, 05:13 PM
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Furnaces in crawl spaces rarely get the maintenance they need, and that describes the limited service you've provided over the decades.

So I'd agree that replacing it is a good plan.

With what might be an interesting question.

It might be that a Williams Wall furnace or something similar would provide reasonable heat without a dect system.

A counterflow furnace on the main floor feeding your existing duct system might be possible if you are lucky.
 
 

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