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Rick, HVAC Supervisor
Category: HVAC
Satisfied Customers: 21520
Experience:  40+ yrs. experience as a licensed oil & gas technician.
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I have a G/S sunair wall heater. The pilot lights and stays

Customer Question

I have a G/S sunair wall heater. The pilot lights and stays on but it will not fire the main burner. I suspect a thermo coupler but am not sure. The thermostat seems to be making the connection and I am not sure what is problem.
It has not been used for a few years due to a wood burning stove.
It is needed now for early morning heat and the wood burner takes to long to get going.
Can you help
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: HVAC
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.

Welcome to Just Answer, my name is ***** ***** I will do my best to help you with your issue. If my initial response doesn’t answer your question then let me know and we can continue our conversation.

Sounds like a weak thermopile. Unless this is wired to line voltage you have a thermopile not a thermocouple. The thermopile generates all the power (<1 volt) to operate the gas valve. They get weak over time and don't generate enough power to make the round trip to the thermostat and back. Replacing the thermopile is usually the fix for this problem.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am familiar with the names of things not necessarily what they are. I assume that the thermopile is not working properly. Are they readily available and easy to install? It is a double sided wall heater. It is a sunair model and I cannot find any labeling for a model or serial number.
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.

A thermopile is just as easy to replace as a thermocouple. The issue is how difficult is the access on your unit. Usually it's not too bad since this is a fairly common maintenance item that does need to be replaced periodically. Thermopiles are universal with the only difference being the length of the lead. They are commonly available at any plumbing supply house and probably even the big box stores. You can confirm that you have one by checking to see if the flame sensor in the pilot flame has a small armored cable with 2 leads connected to the gas valve.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm sure that there are different types of them and need to know which one to get. Unfortunately there is no metal info label to find a model or serial number or operating stats. I am not near the heater at this time and will not be able to look at the thermopile until tomorrow. I believe that I did see a metal wrapped lead protector on the unit though. My main question would be to know which thermopile to purchase to replace the one that is there.
Can I get back with you later on this subject?
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.

Like I said before thermopiles are universal. They haven't changed in over 60 years and everybody uses the same one. The only difference is the length of he leads and you can just coil it up if it's too long. You just need to confirm that you do indeed have one and I described how to do that in my last response. I should be around and I'll respond as soon as I can.