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Problems with new(er) Honey well spark control

I have a Burnham boiler with the new self diagnosing spark control that is having problems.   First check we were getting short cycles and the control indicated weak flame signal. Checked for excessive resistance in the pilot circuit, found the connector somewhat  loose and tightened, but still same problem.  Also, noticed pilot would light immediately when boiler was cool, but not when hot.  Replaced pilot assembly and attached wire with new pilot assembly and spark plug style wire and weak flame signal indication was gone and boiler operated normally.  I did find that the pilot was not completely seated on the burner moun, so I may have been getting a bad ground.  Got another call a week later... no heat.   Owner powered down the boiler several times for as long as 1/2 hour, but control did not reset.  I came in and checked a couple wires to be sure they were tight and everything seemed ok.  Hooked up meter between transformer common and PV and started boiler.  I was getting readings all over the place during spark, then once the pilot lit, stable.  Boiler lit fine and has contrinued to work for several days.  Is the wild reading normal during spark ?  Any other ideas?
The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

Chicago's Steam Heating Expert





Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
· ·

Comments

  • Paul48Paul48 Posts: 2,452Member ✭✭✭
    Thinking Out Loud

    Low primary voltage....say 105 volts.
    · ·
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Posts: 3,236Member ✭✭✭
    Which control is

    this from Honeywell?
    · ·
  • I believe...

    an S8670E 3003.  The one with the green and yellow troubleshooting LED's.
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert





    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
    · ·
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 9,201Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2013
    Might still have a bad ground connection

    I've fixed a couple similar problems by running a ground wire from the pilot bracket to the spark module ground connection.



    Also check the electrical circuit feeding the boiler to see that it's properly grounded. If a 100-watt light bulb will light fully when connected across hot and ground (ground, not neutral) you have a good ground.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    · ·
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Posts: 3,236Member ✭✭✭
    You can also

    run a wire back from the pilot to the gas valve which will give you an even better ground connection.
    · ·
  • edited March 2013
    I was thinking about that

    I noticed there is no direct gorund to the pilot burner....bad idea.  They have the pilot ground attached to the gas valve and then it had to make its way through the loose fitting burners where they rest on the orifice.  Would a bad ground give the wild readings during spark and then stablize ounce the spark ends?

    I got your e-mail Timmie, thank you. 



    I sure don't like that the control is proprietary to Burnham!   I think I may leave the hot water field altogehter if the boiler manufacturer's are going to continue make everything proprietary.  I think I'll just stick with steam.
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert





    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
    · ·
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Posts: 3,236Member ✭✭✭
    Yes it used to be you could

    go to a catalog (printed) and find most controls. You could also get a specification sheet for the control and some educational material on the control. Now Honeywell, Robertshaw, White Rodgers etc tell you to contact the manufacturer who by the way does not care about specs that we are looking for so we can repair something. They will just send you a new part.  If you think boiler companies are bad try warm air manufacturers websites. You have to be a charter member of their fraternal organization to get even an I and O manual.



    National Grid uses American Standard as their choice of warm air furnace for Mod/Cons. I get a lot of requests for training on that furnace.I have never been able to get any information from anyone on American Standard. Least of all the local rep who sells the furnace. Promises, promises but no delivery.



    Try having to teach on all the different brands and can't get anyone to make available anything on their product. Now days the answer is we would prefer you do not teach on our gas product. We have a factory school for that which we encourage everyone to attend. So how many of you attend at least 5 factory schools a year?
    · ·
  • Update

    I spoke to Ron at Burnham and he filled me in on a couple of potential issues. Burnham no longer uses the spark ignitor with separate ignition wire because the higher temperatures in the combustion zone are causing problems with the connection coming loose. In addition, Honeywell is not properly heating the ignition cables to eliminate offgassing, so they off gas in the boiler coating the ignitor.    This appeared to be my current problem.  After only 2 weeks in use, the boot was brittle and cracked, and the ignitor was partially shorted out by all the debris beteen the electrodes.  I cleaned the debris out and polished the electrode and the pilot light instantly. 

    What I don't get is why, after Burnham knew about the substandard quality of the Honeywell components they would choose to replace them with other Honeywell supplied components.
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert





    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
    · ·
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Posts: 3,236Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2013
    What is the number on

    the pilot you are using?



    That out-gassing problem was 20 years ago and Honeywell took care of that a long time ago. They pre bake all the cables and have been doing so since I worked with them  from 1994 to 1999. I have not had an out-gassing problem in years. I am very surprised that is still happening. There are other things that will cause what you are seeing for debris and that is increased odorant in the gas (ethyl mercaptan). It will also coat the sensor. I cover all this in my Electric Ignition Systems Volume I manual and also the solutions. You need to hook up your meter on ohms and slowly run it up and down the spark/sensor rod anything above .1 to .2 ohms it must be replaced, also do not let any part of the igniter wire touch any metal surface. This does not happen just on Honeywell controls it is possible on any of the intermittent ignition systems.



    I would also do a combustion analysis on the boiler to make sure your CO levels are below 100 PPM. Take a temperature test in and around the pilot using a thermocouple hooked up to a temp testing meter, if the ambient temperature is very high around the cable and pilot then check to see what you have for draft before and after the draft hood. The draft should be -.02 to -.03 at all times and a net stack of around 400 °F. If it is lower you may be overheating in the combustion chamber. Poor draft and high temps mean you are not getting sufficient air for combustion.. 
    · ·
  • Prebaking.....

    Ron had said that it has become a problem again because they are not prebaking the cables.  Also, this is an induced draft model, so chimney draft is not involved.

    I'll run the other checks when I get the factory pilot assembly.  The pilot and cable in the boiler now are only 2 weeks old.
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert





    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
    · ·
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Posts: 3,236Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 2013
    I talked to Honeywell today

    all cable received from them to the Tradeline Market and OEMs are prebaked and have been since 1993. They suggested that in the vicinity of the pilot and ceramic maximum temp should be no more than 1,000°F. If you have a temp circuit on your digital meter put the sensor on the ceramic and run the boiler and see what you get for temp. Also if you can check and see what you have for speed on the inducer. If this is a fan assisted unit the inducer should have a negative pressure in the flue pipe after the inducer therefore you can check draft. Poor draft means poor air entrainment across the pilot and burner area therefore high temps.



    What Model Burnham is this?
    · ·
  • earl burnermannearl burnermann Posts: 126Member
    easier ground check

    if your neutral is good then you should get the same reading in your meter from hot to ground as you would get from hot to neutral. You can also check from hot to a grounded pipe and compare to the reading from hot to the ground.
    If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy!
    · ·
  • SWEISWEI Posts: 4,992Member ✭✭✭✭
    ground check

    measuring AC voltage from neutral to ground is a start, but you need look at both loaded and unloaded values.
    · ·
  • PVG3-NI

    .
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert





    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
    · ·
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