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  1. #1

    Question Heatilator Air Flow mystery

    I recently bought a house with a '93 Heatilator wood fireplace (EC36) with optional blower kit. The previous owner, a family member, did the install and never used it.

    The fireplace works fine. However, the air flow from the Heatilator seems negligible. Holding a candle by the output vents shows air flow, but that trickle is not strong enought to blow out the candle. Sheets of paper, but not envelopes, can be held in position by the sucking power of the fans on the lower vents. On removal of the fans, they both blow very strongly. Blocking what appear to be side vents (20 circle holes) doesn't seem to change anything.

    The chimney sweep who inspected things suggested the Heatilator/Fireplace was enough to over heat the room the fireplace was located in. That is easy to imagine based on the fan displacement once removed, but it just doesn't seem to move air relative to the fan speed and output once re-installed.

    This seems to suggest a fundamental installation problem. The fireplace is in a framed-in corner, so my thoughts were 1) blockage or 2) air loss through an open cavity. I don't know how blockage could exist. As for #2, there is no outside air vent installed, but the manual suggests an outside air vent coverplate which, if open, looks like the only potential air pressure breach.

    It appears that the faceplate cannot be removed for further inspection without cutting some drywall away.

    It just seems that this should be diagnosable from the symptoms. But as my name suggests, I am not in the business and adequately familiar with the workings.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated. TYIA.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Howell, Michigan
    Posts
    16,176
    I would consult a fireplace installer in your area to evaluate your problem.

    Also, unfortunately, due to site rules we as members can not discuss technical issues with the general public.

    Thank you for your cooperation.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    S.E. Pa
    Posts
    6,192

    get a pro

    You need someone familiar with that unit to inspect it. I can't say much on this forum but we quit selling circulating Fps because they are a joke at blowing extra heat into the room, leak cold air when not in use, and show ugly grilles instead a clean faced radiant Fp look.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    1,078
    yeap... those fans really dont move a whole lot of air once inside the unit. They seem powerful but the cavity is so big it just doesn't work that great. Open face wood fireplaces really are not for heating a home anyway, if you want to heat the house you need a sealed stove or fireplace.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    6

    Confused Same Issue

    I noticed a control arm on the side about mid-way up the fireplace opening that seems to release additional airflow. I don't see it in any of the manuals, but it is there.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    1,078
    Quote Originally Posted by wmcburt View Post
    I noticed a control arm on the side about mid-way up the fireplace opening that seems to release additional airflow. I don't see it in any of the manuals, but it is there.

    Its in the manual, its the outside air control. Opening it lets outside air directly into the firebox area to lessen the amount of air you suck out of your house while using the fireplace.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    6

    You are Correct

    I took the chase apart and discovered how everything is connected and works. I'm having the air movement problem and I'm having air leakage too. I'm more concerned about he leakage since it drops the room temp 20 degrees. So I thought I could find the culprit causing the leak, but it looks tight as a drum. I sealed the flue off too since they had a govenor on it for what I believe is to keep airflow for the pilot light, if it was actually used. I usually keep it off when not in use. The Heatilator site says it could be a leak around where the gas line penetrates the shell. I didn't see anything and that outside airflow device looks to be sealed to me. I did put some new speed tape around it, but logically having air pumped into the opening, it really doesn't matter. I guess I could plug the hole and see if that reduces the air flow.
    As far as the fans go, another company states they have a replacement that will do the job. I'm trying to determine if I need to cut my loss and replace the whole thing rather than trying to breath life into this piece of junk. Right now it's a matter of budget constraints.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    S.E. Pa
    Posts
    6,192

    Exclamation get help

    I cannot overstate the urgency to get a qualified pro in there before you cause injury or damages.

    You seem to be describing a woodburning fireplace with vented gas logs with the damper clamp, which you removed. That clamp is a requirement of the codes and listing. How did you "seal" the chimney?
    If you go monkeying around taping up parts or packing insulation around you can burn the house down. Plenty of other threads here on these topics.

    This is definitely NOT DIY work!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    6

    Yes, You are Correct!

    You're correct, in that it is conversion. No, I did read the Heatilator installation instructions and they state to use specific material for caulking and insulation. Matter of fact, I think it says you can't use insulation within two inches of any part of furnace which makes this even more difficult to correct. I figured the govenor was on there for a reason, but I was trying to diagonse the problem so I shut the flue all the way to resitrict air flow down into the fireplace and of course, shut the gas off. The flue being shut didn't stop the air leak. Someone mentioned about replacing the cap on top of the chase, but I can't see that being the issue if I cut all the air flow to fireplace where it connects to the chimney. If it still remains a mystery then I will throw the towel in. I have to see if I can find a good company out here for HVAC and/fireplace repair. The last guys that came out to install my AC compressor didn't know their ass from a hole in the ground. Most of them had a couple weeks of training and let go as weekend warriors. I'm finding this alot with the service industry anymore. I guess the only recourse is that if they burn my house down I might be able to sue them. I always go back and check things. For instance, I know it's apple and oranges, but I took my car to a dealership and had an ASE certified mechanic work on it and low and behold they left a bunch of bolts off the car and the air box was left open. I guess it's the way it is now days so you need to have some education on how things work (without killing yourself of course) so you don't become another victim.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    6
    I read one of your other threads on insulation and how negative pressure works, etc... Very interesting! When I pulled the chase apart, it didn't appear there was any special type of insulation such as silver covered or fire resistant. I mean, there was the pink type that most houses use, which in fact, may be the right one. I'm actually glad I did since some of it had fell down on the fireplace. So it wasn't a total waste of time ripping the wall off. I didn't see a vapor barrier. You said in another thread you can't insulate the fireplace box, so do the gas fireplaces now have these same problems or is this is just old technology? It makes total sense. I've seen wood furnaces with the pipe getting red hot, so I can fully understand the fear of burning a house down. It seems my gas insert doesn't build the same heat as wood fire, but I can see something like that happening. I rarely use it because it cost me a lot of money. You had mentioned opening a window to allow the air flow to push out cold air. Is that the reason for the hole in side of the fireplace. The "optional" door they have installed?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    1,078
    If you have just insulation in the chase, and nothing on the other side of it, that is the problem. Imagine if you took all the drywall off one of the outside walls of the house and had just the insulation sitting there exposed. Do you think you would get air leaking in? Hint: the answer is yes

    Here is the most recent thread on this subject, which links to another thread, which links to 3 other threads. Happy reading.

    http://hvac-talk.com/vbb/showthread.php?t=442452

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    6

    Confused Sealing the chase

    I don't want to sound like the village idiot here, but are you talking about not having anything between the siding and the insulation? I do have drywall, then insulation for the inside wall, and then outside they have the older particle board, not the TYVEXand insulation. When I heard "vapor barrier", I pictured thin plastic wrapped around the outside before the outer particle board was nailed on. There is nothing like that in the construction of my chase. Is that supposed to be done to help block air?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    1,078
    How could insulation fall down onto the fireplace if it has drywall over it?

    Basically, the chase walls should be built just like the rest of the walls of the house.

    Siding, plywood (or blue board), insulation, drywall (or equivalent).

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