Alber’s Fireplaces has provided local homeowners and customers access to top quality service providers for over 40 years. Our installation and service partners have long experience in the hearth industry, have been thoroughly vetted by Alber’s and have a professional staff. We stand behind these partners and recommend them to you as if they were our own employees. Unlike other hearth shop’s where you have to use their staff for your installation or service, we have a choice of service partners that we match with your particular need for the best outcome. We also have more resources to fall back on especially during our “busy season” . While other hearth shops have a limited installation crew and long wait times, we have several partners with more capacity that can keep lead times to a minimum.
Using the Alber’s recommended service providers will guarantee you have a seamless project experience. Our sales sonsultants
work with you to find the right product and prepare for the handoff to the installation team. Our installation partners have
the experience and factory training to install your new fireplace or stove safely, professionally and expeditiously. With a certified
Start-up from our team you can rest assured that your new fireplace operates properly, safely and at it’s peak performance.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What do I do
if I smell Gas?
- If you smell gas, evacuate the house and call your utility company or 911 for immediate help (https://homelyville.com/house-smells-like-gas/)
- AFTER they determine the location of the leak or casue of the smell, contact us in case the hearth appliance was the cause of the leak.
Why did my remote stop working?
Most remote systems have 2 components that run on separate batteries: The handset (transmitter) and the receiver. The transmitter often has a battery level indicator which ONLY refers to the transmitter batteries NOT the receivers. Consult your manual to see what kind of remote system you have and where your receiver may be located. NOTE: The receiver batteries drain much quicker than the transmitter (exposed to heat, constant communication with the transmitter, etc.) and may have to be replaced every 3-4 months.
Resetting your Remote
- Most remotes work on radio frequenxy and interference can cause bad communication and scrambling of the codes. The remote may have to be synced or learn new codes. A simple RESET (turn on/off or remove the batteries for several minutes) can usually clear out issues and a re-syncing happens automatically. Some remotes can aquire codes from other appliances and may have to be reset. Simply follow the instructions to sync the remote, do it 3-4 times to “fill” the memory and prevent the remote from taking on new codes. Always follow the manufacturers instructions on how to sync/program your remote.
What can interfere with my Remote operation?
- Excessive metal will deflect radio frequency in a direction that may not be in line with the receiver of your remote control. Interference of your radio frequency can cause the remote control to not respond properly to the hand-held transmitter. Hearth & Home Technologies has many built in safety functions to ensure that your remote control and fireplace operate in harmony. For this reason the receiver of the remote should not be installed to the very back of the fireplace. Large metal artwork can interfere with radio frequency.
Why do my remote control batteries drain so quickly?
- Not all fireplace remotes are created equal or operate the same way. Remote handsets and receivers communicate with each other all the time which drains the batteries whether you use the fireplace or not. https://www.heatnglo.com/Owner-Resources/Troubleshooting-and-FAQs/Common-Questions/Remote-Controls.aspx
- The receiver is exposed to heat which discharges the batteries faster. To avoid batteries discharging or worse to corrode and damage the whole battery compartment: Remove the batteries from the remote receiver during the summer or when not used for long periods of time.
- The receiver may be damaged or broken and causes the batteries to drain prematurely. Use a sharpie to mark the date when you replace the batteries to document the time it takes to drain the batteries. Anything less than 3 months duration might be a hardware problem.
Pilot Light Operation/Pilot Light is out
The safety pilot in a fireplace has several different versions and the functions vary depending on the type & application but the two
basic functions are:
- Allow for the safe operation of the fireplace when lit AND
- Shut down the gas flow when it goes out!
What to do if the pilot goes out:
- Don’t worry, the flow of gas to the pilot stops within seconds and the main valve CAN NOT open without the pilot on.
How does a safety pilot work?
- Gas Logs that have a safety pilot have a valve body that is attached directly to the burner. This valve has 2 separate areas inside that control the gas: The valve to the main burner and the valve to the pilot flame. When the pilot is lit, the flame directly hits what is called a thermocouple (or thermopile). The thermocouple is the ingenious device that makes the whole system work. The thermocouple actually generates electricity when there is a great enough difference in temparature between the tip of the thermocouple and the base. If the pilot flame is too hot, then the entire thermocouple gets hot and there is not enough temperature difference to create a current. If the pilot flame is too low or not coming into direct contact with the thermocouple (or simply blown out), then there is not enough heat to generate a current. This is why the proper adjustment of the pilot flame is necessary for gas appliances that have a safety pilot.
How does the pilot system work.
- The electricity from the thermocouple powers an electromagnet that holds the pilot valve open, thus keeping the pilot itself lit. The electricity needed to keep the valve open must be within a certain range to stay open. If there is not enough electricity from the thermocoupler and the electromagnet closes and the pilot valve shuts down. When you light the pilot and push the knob in, you are in fact manually opening the valve to the pilot flame. Once the pilot gets the thermocouple hot enough, the electromagnet engages and keeps the valve open. This is why you need to keep the knob depressed for about 30 seconds.
- After the pilot is lit and stays lit on its own, you can then turn the knob to the “ON” position.
- With manually operated safety pilots, turning the knob to the on position will light the main burner and you can adjust the flame height using the control knob.
- With remote controlled systems, turning the knob to the “On” position simply puts the main valve in the operating position to be opened/closed by the remote control or wall switch. Some remote valves have an adjustable flame device and and require batteries (handset AND receiver) to operate. Wall switches typically operate only an On/Off function valve.
- The main burner valve is designed such that if the pilot valve is closed, no gas can flow through the main valve. NO PILOT NO GAS FLOW. As long as the pilot light is on and heating the thermocouple properly, the system is operational and gas can then pass through the main burner valve.
- For manual valves, turning the knob from “Pilot” to the “On” position will open the main valve and start the full flame. The flame can be adjusted by turning the knob fully open or gradually close it to lower the flame.
- For REMOTE or WALL SWITCH controls: The knob has to be in the “On” position to allow the remote/switch to operate the valve. If the pilot light gets turned off or blown out, the valve shuts closed and no gas can pass through the system.
- When the main burner is turned on, either by a remote control/wall switch or by manually turning a knob, gas flows through the main valve and comes out the holes in the burner. The flame from the safety pilot is positioned just above the first several holes in the main burner, so when gas flows out of the main burner and reaches the safety pilot, it automatically ignites.
So again, if the safety pilot is not lit (or for some reason the safety pilot gets blown out), the system automatically closes the valve so that no gas will flow until the safety pilot is re-lit. There is NO GAS WITHOUT THE PILOT BEING LIT.
Reasons for the safety pilot to go out
- A sudden wind or downdraft may have blown it out.
- The thermo coupler is getting weaker (not producing enough electricity) due to:
- Corrosion or debris accumulation
- Deterioration from age
- Heat caused damage and needs to be replaced.
- A change in the flame pattern (blocked/impeded/etc.) has caused a drop in electric production
- Fluctuating gas pressure (utility work, seasonal pressure changes, etc.) can cause the pilot to go out.
- The pilot was turned off inadvertently when turning the gas logs off (mostly with manual controls
The pilot flame in your fireplace/log set is located just beside the main burner to ignite the gas when the unit is turned on. This usually happens within seconds of the main valve opening inside a sealed (Direct Vent fireplace) or within 10-20 seconds in an open (Natural vent, Vented gas logs, Vent-free fireplace or logs) system. If the ignition is delayed, more gas accumulates and once it ignites it happens with a “PUFF” that can be scarry. Most fireplaces (except power vented units) rely on a natural draft to operate and are subject to NATURAL INTERFERENCES such as wind and temperatures which will affect the lighting process and the operation. Some delayed ignition can happen on occasion but it should not be the rule and if it is “getting worse” it is definitely the time to call an expert.
NOTE: Gas hearth products use many different systems for a safe and convenient operation and the symptoms and resolutions are not always the same. However, most issues relate to either outside influences (weather or environment) or internal factors that relate to the pilot operation. There are different pilot designs but they all rely on the pilot flame to be in specific contact with another part (thermopile/coupler or flame rectification rod). If this contact is disturbed or non existent, the fireplace will shut down. These can be “nuisance” shut downs (flickering of pilot due to high winds) or caused by old age (deteriorating thermopile/coupler). This function may seem scary, but it always happens on the side of caution. Ask your fireplace experts at Alber’s whether your shutdown was a nuisance or if it should be investigated by a fireplace service professional.
Wind related delayed ignition
- The wind may directly affect the ignition and blow the gas away from the pilot flame long enough for more gas to acculate inside the firebox to finally reach the pilot.
- Depending on the unit, the installation of a wind shield may be required. Sometimes a repositioning of the logs (not possible in DV or VF units) or burn media may resolve this situation
- Excessive draft
- The natural draft in the chimney may be so strong that the pilot flame is distorted away from the burner or the gas get’s “sucked” away from the pilot. Depending on your unit, this may also be resolved with wind shields or in DV units, a restrictor may be installed. The correct diagnosis and rectification will most likely require a professional service.
Burn media/log related issues
- Too much or too little burn media The burn media (ember materials, sand, glass, etc.) may need to be shifted or adjusted. Over time it may have deteriorated and needs to be replenished. Some of this can be experimented with by a homeowner but it may be a good time to call for service.
- Pilot placement/adjustment Factory set pilot flames may need to be adjusted (NOT possible on VF units) for the right flame height. The pilot bracket may have bent away from the burner or just needs to be in better contact. This may require a professional service for the correct setting and adjustment.
- Propane units
- Propane is heavier than air and has different burn characteristics than natural gas. Propane is more likely to have delayed ignition and the above symptoms are usually more pronounced with it.
- Blocked burner ports
- Blockages in burner ports can occur for different reasons, causes and time frames. Here are some of the possible causes:
- Blocked burner ports due to corrosion or debris. The result may be partial flame patterns (the unit lights normally but parts of the flame pattern are slow to ignite or don’t work at all) or a delayed ignition due to wrong gas pattern or not enough gas at the pilot location. Metal burners tend to corrode around the burn ports and “flaking” material can clog the prts. Annual service calls can maintain the burners by brushing off the burner and remove rust to keep all the ports open
- Blocked burners due to spider webs. These blockages may happen overnight (fireplace works fine one day, not flames the next) but most likely they happen over the summer when the fireplace sit’s idle. This is the work for a professional. Depending where the blockage is, the burner, gas tubes or the pilot may have to be removed and cleaned to clear this blockage.
- Multi burner systems may have “crossover” tubes that are blocked or separate controls (solenoid valves) that may be blocked or not working.
- Blockages in burner ports can occur for different reasons, causes and time frames. Here are some of the possible causes:
Turning the fireplace on but it takes minutes to actually light.
- This type of delayed ignition does not create the big “puff” situation but it is a reason for a service call. The delay is caused due to a defective or badly placed thermopile on the pilot assembly. The thermopile has to generate a minimum amount of electricity (usually around 325mv) to activate the electromagnet that open the gas valve. If the thermopile is damaged/corroded or broken it may only barely get to this threshold and thus the delay in the fireplace igniting. A cleaning of the thermopile (in case of corrosion or debris) may bring the production over the threshold or the TP should be replaced. The mormal production is between 500-750mv. NOTE: Not all fireplaces use a millivolt system with a thermopile.
- What is the difference between a thermo-coupler and thermo-pile?
- A thermo coupler produces a small flow of electricity based on the temperature difference between two dissimilar conductors. This small amount of electricity is measured in MilliVolt. Thermo couplers in fireplaces usually produce around 20-30 mv which is enough to activate a small electo magnetic plunger inside a gas valve to allow gas to flow thru.
- A thermo pile is a bundle of thermo couplers that produce a larger amount of electricity (usually between 500-750mv) to operate more complex systems and valves. The thermopile is a larger diameter device than a thermocoupler. Many systems use both a (smaller) thermocoupler which opens the valve for standby operation and the thermo pile which opens for the main burner and allows safety systems to operate.
- Bad electrical connections or components. Similarly to the proper communication between pilot flame and thermopile/coupler
- Vent free fireplaces use a special ODS pilot assembly that is more sensitive to nuisance shut downs. Vent free appliances are equipped with an “Oxygen Depletion Sensor) which shuts the appliance down should the oxygen level in a room fall below a safe limit.
- The design of this device includes a small air hole that creates a very specific pilot flame shape. A small change in the oxygen level OR a small particle of dust/hair etc. can change this pattern and cause a shut down. Obviously we want the system to shut down if the oxygen level is unhealthy but more often the cause is some hair or dust. Simply cleaning the ODS assembly clears this issue 9 out of 10 times. NOTE: ODS pilot assemblies are NOT SERVICEABLE AND CANNOT BE FIXED by law. If any part of the ODS assembly failed, the whole assembly has to be replaced for safety. The components are either welded together or are attached in a way that they cannot be removed without damage to the assembly. https://www.gaslogpro.com/what_is_ODS.htm
Since 1974, Alber’s Fireplaces has been synonymous for quality fireplace solutions in Somerset County and beyond. We are still a family operated company and are dedicated to serving our community with the best fireplace solutions for homes and patios. Visit our modern, 8,000 sq ft. Showroom and get a feel of over 50 fully functioning displays and vignettes.