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Heater From Hell

 
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Old 11-19-2011, 03:03 PM   #1
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Heater From Hell


Hey guys...never posted in this category before as I'm in the civil/structural end of the business but I thought who would be better to ask than you guys first.

Been having issues with my forced hot air system at home; using natural gas.

Woke up a couple days ago and realized the house was chillier than usual...saw that the heat wasn't kicking on, even after turning it up a few degrees...visually I couldn't see anything out of the ordinary...then it kicked on; out of nowhere about an hour or so later... but that was it; all day...and since then a few days ago it only kicks on about once a day for less than 5 minutes.

When my wife turned the switch off then on (on the actual unit downstairs) it kicked on ... again for five minutes.

Anyone have any ideas what could be going on?
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Old 11-19-2011, 04:20 PM   #2
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Re: Heater From Hell


Possible loose wire, door switch, roll out switch, limit switch, or you need a bigger hammer. Does the fan cycle on and off? Could be ignition issues. Is this electronic ignition or a standing pilot. If you have an induced draft motor it could be the air proven switch. If you have a manual look at the wiring schematic or it should be on the inside of the blower door. Gas pressure could also be an issue. Don't forget the air filter.

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Old 11-19-2011, 06:23 PM   #3
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Re: Heater From Hell


[QUOTE=Bestimator;1332622]Hey guys...never posted in this category before as I'm in the civil/structural end of the business but I thought who would be better to ask than you guys first.

Been having issues with my forced hot air system at home; using natural gas.

Woke up a couple days ago and realized the house was chillier than usual...saw that the heat wasn't kicking on, even after turning it up a few degrees...visually I couldn't see anything out of the ordinary...then it kicked on; out of nowhere about an hour or so later... but that was it; all day...and since then a few days ago it only kicks on about once a day for less than 5 minutes.

When my wife turned the switch off then on (on the actual unit downstairs) it kicked on ... again for five minutes.

Anyone have any ideas what could be going on?The unit is going into what we call a soft lock out,could be many different things and even a combination of things, but the most likely culprit is a dirty flame sensor.
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Old 11-19-2011, 07:45 PM   #4
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Re: Heater From Hell


Thanks for the quick response...lots of variables huh?

The fan is switched to "Auto" and works when I put it to "On" but I don't leave it like that and no, it only comes on when the heat kicks on (once a day) plus anytime my wife turns the switch off then back on they both go on.

I believe it's an electronic ignition.

I tried posting some pictures but it looks like you can't unless you have them hosted somewhere online already...

Thanks for your feedback!
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Old 11-19-2011, 07:47 PM   #5
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Re: Heater From Hell


[QUOTE=acefurnacefixer;1332702]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bestimator View Post
The unit is going into what we call a soft lock out,could be many different things and even a combination of things, but the most likely culprit is a dirty flame sensor.
Could you point me in the direction of where teh flame sensor is and how to clean it? Or is it the type of thing that is much easier done than said?
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Old 11-19-2011, 07:59 PM   #6
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Re: Heater From Hell


Ugh, you said electronic ignition? Do you see a spark plug wire? or an ignitor that glows orange?
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Old 11-19-2011, 08:24 PM   #7
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Re: Heater From Hell


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Originally Posted by flashheatingand View Post
Ugh, you said electronic ignition? Do you see a spark plug wire? or an ignitor that glows orange?
To be perfectly honest with you I don't exactly know...I'm assuming since I wasn't aware that it had a pilot light.
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Old 11-20-2011, 01:06 AM   #8
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Re: Heater From Hell


You might be well served by calling an HVAC company. Gas isn't anything to monkey with if you don't know what's going on.

I know a bit about the units, and have fixed several with all the problems listed - but I have an HVAC guy that's good to call, and have several times. You might head scratch for days while these guys can often come in and fix it in an hour.
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Old 11-20-2011, 12:32 PM   #9
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Re: Heater From Hell


It's not the gas thing. If one applies common sense, bubble checks the gas joints they took apart...etc, they should be alright. It's the replacing the wrong part thing. The parts are spendy enough on their own. If part A is bad, sobeit, but who wants to buy parts they didn't need in the first place. Plus, the hard look from the Mrs, when it still doesn't work.... Aye yay yuy.

Bestimator, if you still are wanting help, at least let us know, is the system a intermittent pilot, or hot surface ignition. You can figure that stuff out via google and someone might be able to help from that point.

Good luck
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Old 11-20-2011, 04:39 PM   #10
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Re: Heater From Hell


Quote:
Originally Posted by flashheatingand View Post
It's not the gas thing. If one applies common sense, bubble checks the gas joints they took apart...etc, they should be alright. It's the replacing the wrong part thing. The parts are spendy enough on their own. If part A is bad, sobeit, but who wants to buy parts they didn't need in the first place. Plus, the hard look from the Mrs, when it still doesn't work.... Aye yay yuy.

Bestimator, if you still are wanting help, at least let us know, is the system a intermittent pilot, or hot surface ignition. You can figure that stuff out via google and someone might be able to help from that point.

Good luck
I know how to check gas joints but I'm still afraid of them!

Often you don't have to mess with the gas part, and the parts can get expensive if you just shotgun parts at a unit until it's fix'd.

I had a unit where the air proven switch had a clogged tube and all it took was blowing it out. Also had units where the covers weren't put on quite right, and there's a safety switch in there too. Another unit was mind boggling - the plug was reversed in the receptacle, and for some reason the control board freaked out. I flipped the plug around and magic!
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Old 11-20-2011, 04:58 PM   #11
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Re: Heater From Hell


Hey thanks for the info guys... I called National Grid and believe it or not they couldn't find us in their system so it's $165 just for a tech to take the trip; not including any repairs...that's when you're not an existing customer...it's a free trip for account holders (like we are) but as said; two different reps couldn't find us in "two different systems" ... ironically enough they don't have trouble finding us when my bill shows up in my mailbox!

I've also called a private company. Just wanted to talk to you guys who have no vested interest in what the problem could be and you can be purely objective. Judging from the categories I usually post in; the knowledge and experience on here is impressive so I knew it wouldn't be any different over on this side of the heat.
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Old 11-20-2011, 06:30 PM   #12
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Re: Heater From Hell


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bestimator View Post
Hey thanks for the info guys... I called National Grid and believe it or not they couldn't find us in their system so it's $165 just for a tech to take the trip; not including any repairs...that's when you're not an existing customer...it's a free trip for account holders (like we are) but as said; two different reps couldn't find us in "two different systems" ... ironically enough they don't have trouble finding us when my bill shows up in my mailbox!

I've also called a private company. Just wanted to talk to you guys who have no vested interest in what the problem could be and you can be purely objective. Judging from the categories I usually post in; the knowledge and experience on here is impressive so I knew it wouldn't be any different over on this side of the heat.
National Grid? It looks to me like it's the utility company. How could they not be able to find you in their system? "Yeah, the heat doesn't work because I don't have utilities you idiots!!!"

Or either system - ridiculous! I'm a computer programmer and data architect by education and I can tell you - there's no excuse for that but it happens all the time.

Since they couldn't find you in two of their systems, maybe they should check some of the others! Tell them to check the damned billing system, since you're OBVIOUSLY in that one!

Around here, utility companies won't touch anything that doesn't belong to them. If they DID, I wouldn't want them to. They specialize in providing services, not home repair like private companies.
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Old 11-20-2011, 06:36 PM   #13
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Re: Heater From Hell


Sounds like a roll out sensor. Mine goes bad every couple of years - Trane gas pack.

Further there are diagnostic code / lights to determine what many problems are. The tech should diag in minutes....? But it will cost.
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Old 11-20-2011, 07:58 PM   #14
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Re: Heater From Hell


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Sounds like a roll out sensor. Mine goes bad every couple of years - Trane gas pack.

Further there are diagnostic code / lights to determine what many problems are. The tech should diag in minutes....? But it will cost.
It will cost, but will it cost enough lost time doing things you want to do or making money to be worth it?

If I'm going to spend a few days of my free time messing with my heat when it's cold vs spending 100 bucks to get somebody out there to fix it in an hour - I'll spend the 100 bucks.

Cost isn't always measured in dollars.
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Old 11-22-2011, 08:07 PM   #15
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Re: Heater From Hell


From what I have seen that you have written and with the responses, it sounds like the unit is locking out for one reason or another. The unit does this because there is a problem that really should be addressed by a professional but if you must, check this. On a newer model unit there should be two windows in the door of the unit. One is for observing the flame during operation and one is for viewing an indicator lite on the main control board. With the unit turned on without removing any doors or disconnecting power. After unit has failed look at the indicator lite and count the flash code. Usually the manual for the equipment will tell you how to read this code and what the code is telling you. A lot of times there is also a label on the door of the equipment that will tell you what the code is. Once you have identified what the trouble code is you will then have a starting point for where to look for a problem. Check back with the forum when you are armed with this information and you will find that people are a lot more able to help. The problem could be many things but you can rule out some already. First you know that the unit does still fire up until the point that it locks out. So right a way you can rule out a flame role out switch as these have to be reset by a technician. You can also probably rule out that the induced draft motor is bad, it would not ever light if it was. The flame sensor could need to be cleaned but generally if flame is not sensed the equipment will try to light again. If the air proving switch was clogged the unit would not light at all. It sounds to me like we can already without the trouble code narrow this down to ether you blower motor is not operating so there for the unit is over heating and shutting down on its high temperature limit, or a restriction in air flow. HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR AIR FILTER LATELY? If you don't change your air filter often and you just changed your filter thinking that was the problem it may be that the unit has been cycling on its high limit for a wile. These switches are not made for constant use and quickly will break form such duty. If that is the case that switch may be week and tripping the equipment out at a lower temperature than the limits value and may need to be replaced. Or in the worse case the heat exchanger is plugged up with soot and that can lead to a very life threatening situation. Fact is that this equipment is not a toy and if you don't fully understand how it operates then you are going to want to seriously consider having it looked at by a professional. In proper repair or operation can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, fire, explosion or death. Please use good judgement when messing with these things.
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Old 11-22-2011, 09:41 PM   #16
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Re: Heater From Hell


Hey guys thanks for all the help. It looks like we got things resolved. I had National Grid come by and the tech noticed the air flow was weak. The bottom line after a little investigating was that the coil was clogged badly. The tech didn't want any part of pulling it out to clean it but he ended up pulling it out half way, sprayed some coil cleaning foam on it and wiped it down as far as he could reach. Got about 90% clean I'd say.

Too bad I can't post pics because I took before and after. Can't believe what accumulated on the coil. It was basically a mat of dust.

Well thanks again for all the info. As soon as we got everything back together the air flow was night and day. What a difference.
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Old 11-22-2011, 10:04 PM   #17
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Re: Heater From Hell


That stuff happens. Glad it was just a maintenance issue. Can't understand why a tech would have a problem with cleaning a coil.

Just goes to show, a guy can spend a lot of time and money on misneeded parts. Most of us will gladly show you the ins and outs of your system, so that in the future, you are better prepared.
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Old 11-23-2011, 12:56 PM   #18
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Re: Heater From Hell


Perhaps I am just in a bad mood so you can all disregard this post if you like.

That said; when I joined this sight I was informed that it was a forum for pro's. On another post I was spanked by an electrical engineer whom I attempted to help, he thought my response was ignorant but gave me credit for being curious. I am not curious I am a 31 year veteran of the HVAC trade mostly a tinner but well rounded in service a pipe fitting. When I get stumped or turned around I come to this sight for wisdom. If you are not an HVAC pro do not give advise to me or others as your help could lead to the death of a reader. If you are not an HVAC pro please go to the sister sight and ask your questions

If this post ofends you feel free to reply, but only if you have HVAC pro or similar in your profile. Or am I just ranting.
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Old 11-23-2011, 05:36 PM   #19
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Re: Heater From Hell


The electrical engineer was a bit condescending, but, whatever, can't let that get you down. Hey, at least you got credit for being curious, the rest of us were straight up dissed...

Personally, I welcome the diy questions from CT regulars. We all seem to have our own idiosyncrasies, and that is a common thread amongst us. Not only that, there may be a young or old hvac dog checking out this site, and can get something from the diy questions. So guys, I say bring it on. No such thing as a dumb question.

Cheer up doc, it's all good.
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Old 11-23-2011, 06:48 PM   #20
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Re: Heater From Hell


I've been enjoying Dr Heat's blunt answers....sometimes we need a dose of reality....

Nothing like a bad mood to bring out the best in some..

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Last edited by tgeb; 11-23-2011 at 07:05 PM. Reason: Woops...I probably should not have posted...I'm not in the trade.
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