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Mark Henley
Mark Henley, Refrigeration technician
Category: Appliance
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Experience:  RSES CMS, NATE , ACE, EPA,
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Pilot on vented gas logs goes out after running for several

Customer Question

Pilot on vented gas logs goes out after running for several hours (sometimes shorter). Everything I've read says the thermocouple is overheating, but I'm not sure how this could be happening since everything is set up correctly.

My guess is that the pilot flame is not strong enough and that another appliance (furnace, hot water heater) could be causing the pilot on the gas logs to weaken and cut out. Is this possible? Turning the pilot adjustment screw on the safety pilot doesn't seem to make any difference.

Any help is appreciated.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Appliance
Expert:  Mark Henley replied 4 years ago.

Hi,

 

It would take a significant pressure drop from another appliance to make a difference on the gas logs, as they don't use much gas, its not likely that is the problem.

 

It is more likely that the thermocouple or thermopile is defective, does your thermocouple have two wires on it or is a capillary tube that connects to the valve ?

 

Thanks

 

Mark

 

 

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Mark,

The thermocouple is connected to the valve by a capillary tube. I'm using a Peterson SPK-20 safety pilot.

Thanks!graphic

graphic
Expert:  Mark Henley replied 4 years ago.

Hi,

 

Have you tried to replace the thermocouple ?

 

What does the pilot flame look like ? It should be blue and cover most of the thermocouple.

 

 

Thanks

 

Mark

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I haven't tried to replace the thermocouple. Here is a video of the pilot. It 'spits' a little as you can tell, and it doesn't cover the whole thermocouple, just the tip.

View Video
Expert:  Mark Henley replied 4 years ago.

Hi,

 

OK thats not a great flame, you can disassemble the pilot and clean out the pilot orifice it has a very small hole in it, I usually take a bristle off of a wire brush and run it though the hole, it looks like that could be your problem, between that and maybe a new thermocouple it will probably solve your problem.

 

Thanks

 

Mark

Mark Henley, Refrigeration technician
Category: Appliance
Satisfied Customers: 3217
Experience: RSES CMS, NATE , ACE, EPA,
Mark Henley and 6 other Appliance Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Mark Henley replied 4 years ago.
graphic
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
1: All of the gas log manuals say that if the pilot goes out after running for an hour or so, it means the thermocouple has overheated. Can you explain why you don't think this is the problem?

2: Do you know of the best place to find a thermocouple replacement without having to buy the whole safety pilot?

Thanks.
Expert:  Mark Henley replied 4 years ago.

Hi,

 

I agree that the thermocouple can be the problem, it doesn't look like its overheating from that flame though.

 

You should be able to get the thermocouple from a hardware store or Home Depot.

 

Thanks

 

Mark

 

 

 

 

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Could the thermocouple be overheating from the actual burner flame?

It seems like if the thermocouple was going to overheat, it would happen in the first 30min - 1hr...instead of several hours (up to 6 or so) later.

I followed your advice and cleaned the pilot orifice. I also adjusted the pilot and it's burning smooth and quiet now.

The logs just ran for about 3-4 hrs and just quit again. I'm going to try a new thermocouple and will keep you posted.

Thanks a lot.

Expert:  Mark Henley replied 4 years ago.

Hi,

 

Ok,

 

Thanks

 

Mark

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
UPDATE - I think the problem described below could be caused by the grate positioning in the firebox. The gas logs that have been causing me some problems are not positioned as far back in the fireplace (1-2 inches closer to the front).

I don't think this is causing the pilot to go out, but it could be causing the extra smell/updraft right in front of the fireplace. However, let me know if I'm not on the right track.
----
Mark,

Here's some more information that might help...

We have two fireplaces in the house with the exact same set up (Peterson logs, etc.)...same burner, logs, safety pilot, everything.

The one I'm having trouble with seems to smell stronger and the air seems to waft up right in front more than the other one. The smell isn't bad or really strong, but it's kind of like burning kerosene. If I'm standing at the same place in front of both fireplaces, the one that's working fine doesn't have the same smell or 'updraft'.

Does this sound like an issue? I've checked the chimney draft several times and it's fine.

I'm still going to replace the thermocouple, but wanted to run this by you in the meantime.

Thanks,

John
Expert:  william replied 4 years ago.

the above expert has opt out but i think you ought to try cleaning the orfice first this sounds more like the orfice is dirty or partially plugged

 

 

 

 

 

If this answers your question, please click the ACCEPT BUTTON This is how I get paid for my skills & knowledge.Need more info ask as long as it pertains to the same question. BONUSES are appreciated. NOTE: As I am not there this is based on your observations and information that i get from you. Thank-you

 

 

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
William,

Thanks for the information, but the orifice is perfectly clean now - and the logs are still shutting off after several hours.

Thanks.
Expert:  william replied 4 years ago.

is there a downdraft when you see this going on have you checked the thermal coupler yet

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I believe the problem has been fixed.

I moved the grate/logs back 2" in the fireplace and haven't had a problem since.

I'm assuming that the log placement was causing the thermocouple to overheat after a while, thus shutting off the pilot.

The smell and upward draft right in front of the fireplace is gone now, too.
Expert:  william replied 4 years ago.
so there was a down draft and with you moving the logs the way you did you prevented this from happening that will be good info for the next one who comes along glad you fixed it
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I don't think there was a downdraft.

I think the heat generated from the poorly positioned logs was causing the thermocouple to overheat, shutting off the pilot.
Expert:  william replied 4 years ago.

its anybodys guess but at least its working and you taught me something thank-you

and good luck to you

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