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Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: gabester
Date: December 28, 2017 04:42AM
Woke up with chilly toes at 3:30 AM. Turned up thermostat.
Toes felt even colder at 4:00... Hm, thermostat seems to be on but the boiler's flames aren't!

Remembering now when someone was out to repair the pump last year there was a weird little wiring glitch inside the control unit, jiggling one wire seemed to do the trick and get it running again.

I think I've mucked with it long enough to jiggle the same wire, but because it's so transient I'm not sure whether it's flooding out the igniter and not lighting as a safety feature or if there's actually a different problem.

(Edit Begins)

OK I realized the pilot was out and tried lighting it 3 times, holding down the reset button so that it would stay lit for over a minute each time. It dies the moment I release the button...

It seems like I'll be calling an HVAC service in a couple more hours.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/28/2017 05:23AM by gabester.
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: billb
Date: December 28, 2017 06:53AM
Hope you're near the top of their emergency call list.
Stay warm by the oven.



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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: mstudio
Date: December 28, 2017 07:04AM
I don't know your particular setup, but if the pilot won't stay lit, it is usually a thermocouple problem. Pretty cheap and easy to fix.

Stay warm.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/28/2017 07:10AM by mstudio.
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: testcase
Date: December 28, 2017 07:34AM
2nd vote to check the thermocouple. If you buy a new thermocouple, make sure you get the right length of pipe (the thin copper tubing that feeds gas to the thermocouple). Said tubing will already be connected to the thermocouple. A little extra is OK; don't go short.
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: mrlynn
Date: December 28, 2017 08:23AM
Happened to us last winter during a cold spell like this one. I was in Cambridge on the radio, and wife had to do something. After calling around, she finally found a plumber willing to come out on a Saturday. He replaced the thermocouple and charged $300.

/Mr Lynn



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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: GuyGene
Date: December 28, 2017 08:39AM
I would be calling an expert. FAST! Whew, going to be about 0º here Sunday morning... I must leave this place, soon. Get back south where I belong and my old bones can thaw out. old fogey smiley

Since we are totally redoing an old house here in midwest, I've learned that it seems absolutely necessary to have simple gas heat that is not dependent on electricity. A few years ago a friend on street over from house we bought had a very nice old radiator to burst because ice storm knocked electricity out for over a week. They had NO way to heat their 3,500 sq. ft. old house! Brrrrr.... I do not want total dependency on electricity for heat!



That old man - he don't think like no old man...
Now I wouldn't want to be within 400 - 500 yards of one of them nuclear bombs when it goes off! WW1 Vet Old Man
"He's pinned under an outcropping of rock. Lucky for him, the rock kept the dirt from burying him alive."
If idiots could fly, this place would be an airport. And I'd be a TSA agent.
A bonified member of The Mystic Knights of The Sea, George P. Stevens, President. Andy Brown, Treasurer, Algonquin J. Calhoun, Legal Consultant.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/28/2017 08:45AM by GuyGene.
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: space-time
Date: December 28, 2017 08:59AM
good luck gabster, I hope you have some other sources of energy: electric heaters, maybe a gas powered stove that you can use to heat up the kitchen area while waiting for the plumber. Also if inside temperature drops below 32, make sure your pipes don't burst. Then you have another problem on our hands. Maybe leave the water running a little bit so it cannot freeze. Hopefully others have better advice.
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: December 28, 2017 09:03AM
....they say not to but the oven is the best bet of getting temporary heat until it is fixed....



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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: space-time
Date: December 28, 2017 09:06AM
Quote
NewtonMP2100
....they say not to but the oven is the best bet of getting temporary heat until it is fixed....

who says not to? I have seen this done many times, of course you need to take precautions, make sure you have a CO alarm, etc. But it is better than freezing.
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: Acer
Date: December 28, 2017 09:33AM
PSA: Cooking a turkey for six hours, perfectly safe. Running the oven empty for heat, silent death. Solution: bake pies so the oven doesn't know the difference. Why pie and not turkey? Answer: pie!
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: Racer X
Date: December 28, 2017 09:44AM
And if it's that cold, you don't need to refrigerate the pies!

I sincerely hope you have some space heaters. We have 4?, 3 are 1500W models. We can easily keep bedrooms heated if the doors are closed.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/28/2017 09:46AM by Racer X.
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: GuyGene
Date: December 28, 2017 10:16AM
I just ordered a space heater from Amazon, supposed to come tomorrow. $71 with shipping, it had good reviews. It’s DeLonghi 1500 HMP Mica or something.



That old man - he don't think like no old man...
Now I wouldn't want to be within 400 - 500 yards of one of them nuclear bombs when it goes off! WW1 Vet Old Man
"He's pinned under an outcropping of rock. Lucky for him, the rock kept the dirt from burying him alive."
If idiots could fly, this place would be an airport. And I'd be a TSA agent.
A bonified member of The Mystic Knights of The Sea, George P. Stevens, President. Andy Brown, Treasurer, Algonquin J. Calhoun, Legal Consultant.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/28/2017 10:19AM by GuyGene.
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: Acer
Date: December 28, 2017 11:27AM
Quote
GuyGene
I just ordered a space heater from Amazon, supposed to come tomorrow. $71 with shipping, it had good reviews. It’s DeLonghi 1500 HMP Mica or something.

But will it bake pies?
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: Winston
Date: December 28, 2017 12:40PM
My mother's summer cottage in Michigan has two propane-powered forced air furnaces. Both have self-generating controls, and can operate "on gravity" if the power is out. The house is closed up, water drained, and the power turned off in the winter, so I doubt we'll ever test it. Suppose we would if we are ever there in May and get a power outage.

I tried to find a furnace in Atlanta which could operate on gravity, but they aren't sold here. It's been a while, but we did have a winter power outage in the late 1990s which lasted several days, with the temp at or below freezing. I was out of town on business. My wife and the kids camped out in our living room with the fireplace going and sleeping bags. When I got back we were on our way to a hotel when we called the house on last time - and the answering machine picked up, power back on. Have thought since then of getting a permanently installed generator which could power part of the house, but then we'd have one more thing to maintain.

When I was a kid the house in Michigan had a wood fired furnace which worked entirely on gravity. Go build a fire in the firebox in the basement, a few minutes later heat from the registers on the first floor (the second floor didn't then have heat). The furnace looked like something out of one of those nightmare cartoons about a furnace which comes alive. Sure it was covered entirely in asbestos. Doubt any asbestos remediation was done when it was replaced in the 1970s.


Good luck with fixing the boiler.

- Winston



------------------------
Be seeing you.
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: Winston
Date: December 28, 2017 12:42PM
Quote
Acer
But will it bake pies?


Bet the old wood fired furnace could!



------------------------
Be seeing you.
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: mrlynn
Date: December 28, 2017 12:42PM
Quote
GuyGene
Since we are totally redoing an old house here in midwest, I've learned that it seems absolutely necessary to have simple gas heat that is not dependent on electricity. A few years ago a friend on street over from house we bought had a very nice old radiator to burst because ice storm knocked electricity out for over a week. They had NO way to heat their 3,500 sq. ft. old house! Brrrrr.... I do not want total dependency on electricity for heat!

Unless you have a really old steam-boiler system, or gas fires in each room, your gas furnace will need electricity to circulate the heat, via hot water or hot air, throughout the house.

A small generator would be enough to power the furnace circulating pumps or fans, though.

/Mr Lynn
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: chopper
Date: December 28, 2017 01:28PM
I have a gas boiler and radiator heat. It's still the best heat--in terms of staying warm--I think. It would be hard for me to go to a forced air system but the possibility of central air is tempting in July.
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: JoeH
Date: December 28, 2017 01:41PM
It can be the best heat currently available, but the boiler depends on electricity for firing the gas burner and running the circulator pump. Either of those not being available and you have no heat. Friend in Minneapolis just spent $500 to replace the circulator pump for his system, and still trying to find a spot that must have frozen because some parts of his house aren't getting heat still.

One advantage of some of the older gravity based heating tech, it might not be as efficient but it still circulated heat without electricity. Many also did not require electricity to keep the fire burning.
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: gabester
Date: December 28, 2017 04:11PM
Followup for MRFriends:

1) Thank you all for your expressions of support and concern.
2) While I was fairly certain that it was a thermocouple failure, when an HVAC guy finally arrived we looked at the gas valve and opted to replace that (since it would also include a new thermocouple.) The previous gas valve was fairly corroded along one side due to rusting from a pump leak last winter.
3) Had to call 5 places and make 4 appointments before one finally got here. My previous "usual" place wouldn't have been able to get here until midnight!

I might still need to replace the aquastat at some point, there's a jiggly wire that will shut the burner off if it isn't set just right. Wiggling it usually resolves it... but if that fails I'm looking at another big hit.

Also - I very much appreciate the suggestion to bake pies or turkeys. I couldn't do either but I did run a few laundry loads.

I live in fear of the extended power outage during winter cold snap/polar vorter or during torrential rains/floods - either one could lead to a complete loss of the basement stuff.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/28/2017 04:15PM by gabester.
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: GuyGene
Date: December 28, 2017 04:36PM
Hmmm, don't think my little heater will bake pies! mrlynn, eh to(e), you kind of missed what I said. I'm talking about a gas log free standing soapstone stove, gas instead of wood. No electricity needed. gabe, hope you have good warm heat soon!! coffee smiley



That old man - he don't think like no old man...
Now I wouldn't want to be within 400 - 500 yards of one of them nuclear bombs when it goes off! WW1 Vet Old Man
"He's pinned under an outcropping of rock. Lucky for him, the rock kept the dirt from burying him alive."
If idiots could fly, this place would be an airport. And I'd be a TSA agent.
A bonified member of The Mystic Knights of The Sea, George P. Stevens, President. Andy Brown, Treasurer, Algonquin J. Calhoun, Legal Consultant.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/28/2017 04:37PM by GuyGene.
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Re: Boiler not igniting... temp 0 outside and falling fast inside!
Posted by: btfc
Date: December 29, 2017 07:39PM
Here are some gas heaters that don't need power to operate:


[www.houseneeds.com]


There is a Rinnai that I have experience with but I think it might be discontinued. I think I linked to it in an old heater thread.
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