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IDEAL CLASSIC FF 280 BOILER: NOISY LIGHTING

Discussion in 'Plumbing and Central Heating' started by CarlH, 3 Dec 2020.

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  1. CarlH

    CarlH

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    A few months ago this splendid boiler (1997, and still performing excellently), intermittently, but with increasing frequency, started failing to light the burner. There was a repeated clicking sound. This was similar to the noise made by the igniter relay on the gas side of our caravan fridge until the gas reaches the fridge (eg, if the gas was not turned off at the cylinder before turning the fridge fuel selector to off).

    So I wondered if the clicking noise made by the boiler meant that it was trying to light the pilot burner, but failing to do so.

    I called in an engineer, who had no idea what the noise betokened. He spent a long time on the phone with Ideal, who advised him to check the sealing strips between the (removable) case front and (fixed) back, and repair/replace as necessary. He found a small gap in the strip where the sensor tube for the boiler thermostat passes into the control box area below the bottom of the back case and glued a new piece of seal into the gap.

    I was sceptical that this would make any difference, as the engineer also was, but the boiler then lit and ran normally. He agreed that having repaired the gap in the seal made no sense in relation to the problem because the cavity between the two halves of the case is under negative pressure from the flue fan. And, although there is a warning on the boiler not to run it with the front case removed, it started and ran just as well with this removed as with it in place. He agreed that the function of the seal was probably to deter any CO from leaking into the interior of the house.

    After a fortnight, the same lighting up problem returned. I called him, but he said he was too busy to come and had no idea what the cause of the problem could be.

    So I called another engineer. He very quickly traced the clicking sound to the gas valve. It's a dual solenoid valve (pilot jet and main jet) and, he said, after long service, the actuator moved by the second stage solenoid can start to stick.The solenoid armature strikes the actuator. If this fails to move, so the next stage in the ignition process does not start, the PCB switches the solenoid back on to try again, and so on.

    He ordered a new valve. This was not a cheap "compatible" part but the one supplied by Honeywell as the current part for this application (£200 for valve and fitting). It was identical in appearance to the old valve, and fitted the various connections (gas and electrical) without any problems.

    At first the performance of the new valve was excellent, but, after about a week, although the boiler always lights first time and achieves full flame height, the actual ignition process in the main burner is intermittently noisy. Often, it makes a variously loud/not so loud "woof". At other times it lights smoothly and quite quietly (as the boiler had always done with the old valve before this failed).

    I have tentatively identified a pattern to the "woofing", which, at times, is almost a loudish bang. It seems to happen only when the boiler has been on, and when it-relights as it cycles. The shorter the "off" part of the cycle, the louder the re-lighting noise.

    We also notice sometimes, after an instance of noisy lighting, a faint smell of gas around the boiler.

    I reported this new problem promptly to the engineer who fitted the new valve. He came, and heard the "woofing", and one instance of a "bang". He said other factors might be responsible - e g, the burner gas injector bore might have worn slightly oversize with age. But he agreed, because there were different levels of lighting noise, that the most likely cause was that the new gas valve was faulty. As it was under warranty he agreed to order a new one.

    After about a month he texted us to say that he had the new valve, and would come to fit it asap. Since then he has responded to our reminders by again promising to let us know as soon as he has time to come, but he has neither texted us back nor come.

    My suspicion is that the new valve is opening slightly earlier than it should in relation to the timing of the start of the ignition process, meaning that gas starts being delivered to the main burner slightly sooner than it should be. When this happens, a varying proportion of the gas inside the burner/emerging from its jets is not ignited (because there is too much gas for the amount of oxygen supplied by the air draught), and, aided by the residual heat of the main burner metal, heats up when the rest ignites, creating a small but noisy explosion- like low-speed detonation in a petrol engine put under load when the ignition timing is over-advanced, or if the fuel has too low an octane rating for that engine.

    Why is the ignition quiet when the boiler is cold? Possibly because there is no residual heat to ignite any excess gas after ignition has taken place?

    The fact that the new valve worked well at first seems to rule out the possibility that it is not as identical to the old one as it looks. I believe that it is on a supersession part number, which (at least on older cars), can mean that it has been passed by the car manufacturer as "close enough" in spec to the original part, but is actually different in certain respects - which may affect its performance to some degree.

    Can anyone cast light on this problem? I wonder if the engineer is being coy about returning because he suspects that the new valve varies sufficiently in spec from the original one to create the ignition problem that I had told him about, and that a further new example of the same valve would make no difference? He may consider the ignition problem to be insignificant (he hasn't said this), but the occasional slight smell of gas surely forbids such a verdict?
     
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  3. ianmcd

    ianmcd

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    Lots on here will know what it is but site rules prohibit us fro advisng on DIY gas work, great boiler and well worth keeping, get an engineer experienced with it, not an expensive fix
     
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  4. CBW

    CBW

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    If you can smell gas around the boiler you need to call the emergency service provider for NG -0800111999 for LPG - whoever supplies the bulk vessel storage.
     
  5. CarlH

    CarlH

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    Thanks for the two replies:-

    2. The smell of gas is very slight, and intermittent. If I report it as a gas leak the boiler will probably be "condemned". I've just spent £200 on the new gas valve, so it needs the engineer with the replacement valve to be persuaded to come back to fix the lighting noise - which, I am confident, will also fix the occasional slight smell of gas. To have a basically excellent boiler (see post) condemned, especially after a large investment in it, is not an option for us!

    I asked if anyone could cast light on the problem, not tell me what the law says. So please don't come back to me on this on this thread. I need helpful advice, not unconstructive comments.

    If no-one here one can tell me anything useful, which, say, might cause me to go to a different gas engineer, I will just tell the man who fitted the present gas valve to come and fit the replacement which he said he has obtained

    1. Yes, it's a very good boiler indeed. Apart from being greedy on flue fans it's been no trouble until the recent problems. Whenever it is serviced I am told that this was not strictly needed because this range of boilers is very slow to "coke up".

    A new boiler even of the same type ("heat only") would have to be condensing, so would not - I understand - give us the same 80 degrees C boiler water temperature. In very cold weather our radiators (all 12 of which have been renewed over the last five years) would not dissipate enough heat.

    Then there are the problems with the condensate pipe, which would run through the wall to the outside of the utility room to its drain gully - and freeze up in winter (north-facing wall).

    As regards finding an engineer, the local ones who claim familiarity with this range of boilers have all put me off by prematurely making remarks about the age of the boiler and hinting that we ought to change it on those grounds alone. That applies to the guy who changed the gas valve, but he had to agree that it would take many years for the reduction in our gas bill (to a 95% efficient boiler from a 75% efficient one) to wipe out the cost of the 95% boiler - and I include a few hundred ££ for restoring the old one to full health in this calculation.
     
  6. CBW

    CBW

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    If you reported it as a gas leak, they (esp) will probably cap the supply, or at least isolate the boiler, not condemn it as a lot of their engineers don’t hold appliance qualifications. Only when parts are obsolete and not repairable are boilers condemned. Have you considered contacting Ideal for a repair?
     
  7. ianmcd

    ianmcd

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    nothing to do with the law , it is site rules if you have a problem with that take it up with the MODS.

    ----------------------------------
    CarlH
    Your guesses are somewhat off. There are other things in the boiler not mentioned, which Ideal will be able to point out to a gas fitter, from their knowledge of the boiler. The fault you're describing is not uncommon.

    As you have been advised, we don't go into matters which affect gas safety.
    Mod
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 4 Dec 2020
  8. DIYnot Local

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