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  1. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Simcoe, ON Canada
    Posts
    72
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    There are several components that have to work together for the fireplace to operate properly and since fireplaces operate on millivolts it doesn't take much interference to cause nuisances. Ideally a fireplace expert should evaluate/diagnose the system and determine what is causing the failure. It could be a number of parts not just a dirty pilot. I've seen components burn out in a couple of years because they were not adjusted right at install.

  2. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Posts
    1
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    Quote Originally Posted by randy1 View Post
    My fireplace has a light-switch that turns it on (really, releases the gas, because the pilot light is already going). A couple of months back we noticed the switch would only work every couple of tries. I replaced the light switch and it worked fine for a couple of days but now it is not working entirely (ever).

    Being fairly new to homeownership I'm not sure whether this is a problem for an electrician or a gas fireplace expert. I imagine it's actually a problem with the fireplace but was curious if anyone else has seen similar issues.

    Not sure on the brand of the fireplace -- I'm away on business at the moment...
    The option of replacing the switch with another standard $2 light switch is one solution, but you will likely need to do the same thing in a few years, and my concern is why should that be necessary when you will likely never have to replace most of the other light switches in your home as long as you own it - even though the light switching puts a much higher load on the switches than running a fireplace at less than 1 volt.

    Most standard light switches have brass contacts. At 120VAC level operation, there is usually no concern about residue build up because the high voltage/low resistance load level keeps the contacts clear enough by self cleaning the residue through arcing at every ON/OFF cycle.

    At millivolt level operation, the internal contacts tend to oxidize over time and create a high resistance (up to several ohms) which causes lots of problems for systems working at the millivolt level. The system that operates your fireplace is operating on a circuit that is dependent upon a voltage level that is probably 1/5 to 1/2 that of a AAA battery. As well, this voltage is capable of only a minute current production, so any losses are much more likely to cause performance problems.

    After doing lots of research, and refusing to pay exorbitant prices for "millivolt" switches, I ended up installing a "commercial" grade SPST light switch I got at the local home center. The "commercial" grade switches (Decora Plus, in my case) have silver alloy contacts which do not have the same characteristic residue production over time. In fact, I have read that the oxides that develop on silver actually improve connectivity. I am not 100% sure of that, but time will tell.

    The commercial grade switches can be purchased for less than $10.00.

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