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Thread: Manual lighting gas boiler

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member
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    Default Manual lighting gas boiler

    Hey everyone, I've got a quick question. My parents have a dunkirk gas boiler and the ignitor went out. The repair company of course screwed up having it overnighted and now it won't be here until friday. its well below freezing temps here, is there any way to manually light the furnace? Like an old pilot light with a match kind of deal. It has the direct ignitor. No one seems to have them. thanks

    Nick

  2. #2
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    Don't try to light the beast unless you understand perfectly how the boiler controls work and can rig it to work safely.

    Even old-skool boilers have interlocks on the ignition & flame sensing to keep the gas off when not in an ignition cycle or during a flame-out condtion and if you defeat those interlocks you're putting yourself at all kinds of risk.

    It's not exactly THAT cold out. Turn on all of the lights in the house and freeze-up will be unlikely. Don't try heating with a fireplace, as that will heat the room it's in, but draw cold air into other rooms increasing the risk of freezing pipes, etc.. Buy an electric blanket for sleeping.

    If it's under 40F upstairs at night and you're concerned about a top floor bathroom freezing up, assuming your hot water heater still works, fill the tub with hot water and close the bathroom door.

    I went 10 days without power a bit over a year ago, when it was getting down to 10F several nights in a row and managed to avoid freeze up with select use of hot water and gas range burners. WITH power it should be dead-easy to avoid freeze-up with overnight lows only in the mid-20s.

    With oil-filled radiator type electric space heaters you can probably even keep a few rooms comfortable with low fire risk, low noise. Friday isn't that far away.

  3. #3
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    On some of the systems, the igniter is not only used to start the burner, but is also the sensor that tells the controller that the flame is lit, so if it is out, there would be too many safety interlocks that needed to be overridden to get it to both fire and then stay on. It would be quite risky bypassing those interlocks. It could be done, but not recommended.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    I am somewhat familiar with them but do not want to risk damaging anything. Unfortunately the hot water heater runs off the furnace too so there is no hot water. They have a few electric heaters running while they are home. Its more of the concern of a pipe freezing, the house is almost 100 yrs old. thanks for the tips!

  5. #5

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    I've done it successfully on my furnace when the ignitor failed (different make though). All I did was power cycle the furnace, wait for the gas valve to click open and clicked a grill lighter (one of those lighters with the long stem) right where the ignitor was. I did not have to bypass anything. Of course every time you want heat you have to repeat the whole thing.

    -rick

  6. #6
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by almostfinished View Post
    I am somewhat familiar with them but do not want to risk damaging anything. Unfortunately the hot water heater runs off the furnace too so there is no hot water. They have a few electric heaters running while they are home. Its more of the concern of a pipe freezing, the house is almost 100 yrs old. thanks for the tips!
    The lows in Westchester this week are only in the 20s, and the highs are above freezing. As long as you don't open up the doors & window (or the fireplace flues) the risk of an actual freeze up are quite low. Monitor the temps room by room where plumbing is present- if it's below 40F at sundown leave the lights on in that room or put a space heater in there.

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