Calling all home heating experts - RC Groups
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Dec 31, 2002, 08:11 PM
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SchiessCo's Avatar

Calling all home heating experts

Well, my furnace just up and quit on me. It didnít go up in a spectacular puff of smoke or anything like that, it just wonít cycle on. Usually when you turn the thermostat on, you can hear the igniter click 5 or 6 times, and the furnace lights off Ė but the igniter is not firing. The system is getting power Ė the A/C and fan still work, and when I turn it on, I can hear a relay (I assume) doing something. I replaced the spark igniter unit to no avail.

I know itís hard to feel bad for a Californian with a heater on the fritz, but itís been getting into the high 30s at night and my dogs are looking a little bummed .

Any thoughts before I blow my Hacker fund on a professional? Itís a Carrier, Series 301, Model 586S0785-3, natural gas with an intermittent spark igniter.

Thanks, Pete
Dec 31, 2002, 09:33 PM
jbc455's Avatar
You might try making a couple phone calls to see if a pro can give you some suggestions.

I'm not saying to take advantage of them, but let them know you'd like to try fixing it yourself, and will not hold them to their advice if it turns out to be incorrect. It worked for me with my freezer.

Also, you might try only having the pro do a diagnosis, and telling you what needs fixing. That should be a bit cheaper.

Hey, if you can live without your heater... here's your chance to save big money on your gas bill! Maybe get by with a portable, drive the electric bill up.

Good luck.
Dec 31, 2002, 09:57 PM
Tacoma, WA, USA
William A's Avatar
Fok, is there a site glass or something that allows you to see the 'sparker/ignitor' ?

Does said ignitor ignite a pilot flame or main burner ?

Does the burn chamber fan come on ? (small fan)
Dec 31, 2002, 11:17 PM
Go get them Meg!
lrsudog's Avatar
Heaters are extremelt simple machines. I bet that if you call a licensed Carrier service company and tell them what's happening, they will be able to diagnose what's wrong right away.
Jan 01, 2003, 01:13 AM
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Gman2's Avatar
probably the thermocouple
Jan 01, 2003, 08:05 AM
Registered User
Andy W's Avatar
Call (or better yet visit) the local appliance parts warehouse that sells retail. Take all the model numbers and such with you, and describe the problem in detail. Ask them if they know which part is likely to need replacing and buy it. The part will cost you a few $$ and you'll probably do OK.

My main-level furnace blower lost it's bearings at 4:10pm on what was to be the coldest night of the year that evening. Call to the 'best' HVAC contractor in town revealed "we don't carry parts, that could take 3-4 days to order"!!! Took 15 minutes to rip it apart, 15 to get to the store (in rush hour!), 15 to extract the motor from the blower assembly on their counter, locate the idendical part, pay, and get scooted out the door as they locked it behind me at 5:00pm! By 6, I had it running again with the new motor - even cleaned the air filter while I was at it!

Cost? $100 for the motor.
Cost for a service call? Who knows, but it's about $100 for the guy to show up and step out of his van!
Jan 01, 2003, 10:13 AM
Tacoma, WA, USA
William A's Avatar
Originally posted by Andy W
but it's about $100 for the guy to show up and step out of his van!
$95.00 an Hr., 2 Hr. minimum charge plus travel time. (or at least it was when I worked for Carrier, probably more by now)
Jan 01, 2003, 01:34 PM
Registered User
SchiessCo's Avatar
William A Ė

The igniter is right out in the open, above the three burner units. I donít know if it has a separate burn chamber fan, but if it does, thatís not turning on. Iíll check it out and if thatís not it, I have a HVAC guy I can call at work tomorrow.

Thanks guys.

Jan 01, 2003, 03:08 PM
Tacoma, WA, USA
William A's Avatar
The igniter is right out in the open
Huh ?

For most of the burners out there, start-up sequence goes something like this.

Room thermostat closes, calling for heat.
If all the safety switches are ok, the burn chamber/exhaust vent fan comes on.
If air/sail switch signals an air flow, ignitor will glow/spark. (depending on model)
Main burner should now ignite and if flame sensor works, it will send signal to keep main burner on till room temp is met.
(main blower comes on when heat exchanger temp reaches 'X' amount)

This is a basic start-up sequence, some models differ slightly.

I haven't touched a burner in years (strictly refrigeration now), but once you get past the basics, the rest is gold trinkets.

If anybody interested, I've still got a copy of an old dos gas burner simulator program.
It's not a very big program, fits on a floppy and runs from the floppy, so you don't have to load anything.

It's kinda neat, still pull it out once in a while to play with it.
You can run it with no faults, or run it with a built in fault and try to 'fix' it.

If you all would like a copy, I could zip the floppy contents and stick the file on my web space to share.
Last edited by William A; Jan 01, 2003 at 03:10 PM.
Jan 01, 2003, 04:16 PM
Tacoma, WA, USA
William A's Avatar
Here's a snap shot of the program.
Last edited by William A; Mar 03, 2014 at 04:27 PM.
Jan 01, 2003, 05:17 PM
Tacoma, WA, USA
William A's Avatar
Here's the program,

Download file
Unzip to blank floppy,
Run file on floppy called
Once the program starts, it's keyboard only.

Need any help running it, drop me a line.
(also have one on 'heat pumps')

((File removed from web space during clean-up, if you want a copy of either, drop me a PM))

Edit; 09/17/08, sorry, program no longer available.
Last edited by William A; Sep 17, 2008 at 09:58 PM.