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Replacing a Gas Control Valve

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Jakek
Jakek Member Posts: 55
The 24v gas control valve on my Burnham boiler is shot. It occasionally makes a buzzing noise when being actuated. It's not entirely dead yet (thankfully) but doesn't have long for this world.

I will hire someone to replace this valve but I'm wondering how hard it's going to be for the contractor to get a replacement part? Does it need to be an identical model or would a similar valve which is easier to source be fine. I'm guessing this one is not original to the 1989 boiler. If possible, I'd rather source the replacement part myself so the contractor doesn't need to make separate trips. Every other part of the system is working well and the ignition module looks to have been replaced within the past 10 years.

Thanks for the help!



Comments

  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,861
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    The tech will get all the necessary info and speak to their supplier(s) to find a compatible replacement. 

    As far as finding a reputable company to replace a part you diagnosed and supplied, good luck.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,883
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    What’s the voltage when making this buzzing sound?
    mattmia2
  • Jakek
    Jakek Member Posts: 55
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    Thanks @pecmsg It's at 25v when running but does seem to be dropping down to below 20v when buzzing. (Which would explain the "stuck solenoid" type noise.) The transformer is still putting out ~25v during this time.

    Do you think the ignition module or transformer might be the problem?
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,045
    edited March 2023
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    I think with all your years of experience on that boiler, you probably should fix it yourself. You know more about it than anyone with 10 or more years of experience and training on other equipment and other customers. No one knows your equipment better than you.

    After you replace the gas valve and the same thing happens, what will change next? Perhaps the transformer, and if that does not work, maybe the limit control or the thermostat. Once you get everything electrical replaced and nothing solves the humming or bussing noise, then you can follow my advice to every customer with a humming noise. Everyone knows that the reason the heater is humming, is because it forgot the words. Place the sheet music in plane view and see if the humming stops.

    On another subject. What do you do for a living? I hope it is something I know very little about. This way I could micromanage the way you do it. Having little or no experience on what you do for a living will make my job much easier.

    If this sounds a little snarkie, then you get the message. Trying to diagnose the problem based on limited experience (only your equipment) does not make a professional feel all warm and fuzzy when he is told that you know what the problem is and all you need him for is to swap the part. When they are completed and it does the same thing, are you going to be happy to pay for the service rendered? I can't see that ever going well. Can you?

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

    EdwinD
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,883
    edited March 2023
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    Jakek said:

    Thanks @pecmsg It's at 25v when running but does seem to be dropping down to below 20v when buzzing. (Which would explain the "stuck solenoid" type noise.) The transformer is still putting out ~25v during this time.

    Do you think the ignition module or transformer might be the problem?

    So where are you losing the 20%?
    mattmia2
  • Jakek
    Jakek Member Posts: 55
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    @EdTheHeaterMan I sorry I've said something wrong and I see where you're coming from. I've been lurking in this forum for years and it's fascinating and enjoyable in part because people post questions and get useful advice. I take pride in my home and like to know how things work. I've found stream heat to be so interesting I've even daydreamed about a career change.

    As I said, I'm not going to replace the valve myself and at this point I won't buy anything in advance. But I'm still interested in what the professionals on The Wall think might be wrong if not the valve itself.
    ethicalpaulMad Dog_2
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,725
    edited March 2023
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    You really touched a nerve there, eh Jake? :sweat_smile:

    I think you wanting to know about your system and its parts is warranted. It will help you spot when a contractor is not knowledgable which happens all too often as we see here all the time. We can't all get good ones like you, Ed, so cut the guy some slack :smile:
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    Mad Dog_2
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,045
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    Jakek said:

    @EdTheHeaterMan I sorry I've said something wrong and I see where you're coming from. I've been lurking in this forum for years and it's fascinating and enjoyable in part because people post questions and get useful advice. I take pride in my home and like to know how things work. I've found stream heat to be so interesting I've even daydreamed about a career change.

    As I said, I'm not going to replace the valve myself and at this point I won't buy anything in advance. But I'm still interested in what the professionals on The Wall think might be wrong if not the valve itself.

    No need for an apology. I am just commenting on how I might react to a customer that poses your same question. For example: I had a customer that owned a trailer in a trailer park. It was an income property. The customer owned several concrete mixing plants that also supplied masonry tools and supplies. One of his companies in the New York area was a concrete and fuel supply company. Therefore he had experience with oil burner service. He may have even done oil burner repairs as a young man when his father was operating the business.

    One evening I received a call from his property manager. NO HEAT at the trailer, I had completed maintenance service on the property before, so I was familiar with the location and knew who the owner was. Upon arrival I diagnosed the problem to be a primary safety control. I had the replacement part on my truck. I quoted the price in advance for the part replacement. The price included a reasonable markup on the part, the diagnostic fee (the price for me to make a house call and take my tools inside and determine the reason for the failure) , and the price for the labor to replace the part. And I provided that price to the property manager in advance before the work was completed. He approved the repair so I completed the job and the tenant had heat.

    Knowing the owner and the fact that I had worked on his commercial boilers and other residential locations the family owned, I felt there was no problem just sending him a bill in the mail for future payment. Now you would think someone as wealthy as this would just pay the bill. Right? But having a basic knowledge of the actual part cost, and the fact that my FLAT RATE PRICE BOOK does not itemize parts labor and markup separately, the owner called me to ask why the price was so high? Well #1 is that I had that part already in my truck inventory, saving a trip to the supply house that would drive up the labor cost, and #2 that I also mark up items I have in inventory very similar to the material he stocks in his masonry supply house business. When I purchase a trowel and a mixing pan and a bag of Portland cement for $47.86, I assume that you spent something less than $47.86 from your supplier. Is that correct? When you put all the ingredients into a mixing truck and add water, then drive to my location to deliver the ready mixed concrete, you need to pay the driver? and pay for the fuel and vehicle maintenance? I need to pay for all that stuff too, and #3 I need to include those costs in the price of my house call and labor needed to replace that part.

    I then asked him why he thought my price (That was pre agreed to by his property manager) was too high, his answer was to say that he could get that part for less that $50.00 from his supplier in New York. My reply to that was that he needed to inform his property manager of these facts before authorizing such repairs. The fact that the furnace was up and running within 2 hours of the failure must be worth the additional expense. If the manager were to call you, then you were to wait for the part from the New York supplier to ship it out the following Monday. and then have his property manager or yourself install the part, then he could have saved a hundred or so on the repair. But he may have had some frozen pipes to deal with. But at least he would have saved on the repair cost.

    Ultimately I asked him what he was comfortable paying? What would you charge a customer in New York for that same service call? I accepted the lower price under the condition that I get a charge account with his supply company and get the same discount price as one of his largest customers (who also happened to be one of my customers). By doing that I made out much better in the long run. I purchased over $10,000.00 in material to install a paver patio at my home. The additional 15% discount over his regular "homeowner price" saved me much more than the $100.00+ discount he negotiated “after the fact” on that one service call.

    By the way. This is what over $10,000.00 in paver supplies and material looked like over 12 years ago.



    All in all, I would say that he was a very shrewd businessman! Saving $100.00 only to guarantee that I purchase thousands of dollars of material form his business.

    Mr. Ed


    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

    HomerJSmithMad Dog_2CLamb
  • Jakek
    Jakek Member Posts: 55
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    Thanks @EdTheHeaterMan and @ethicalpaul

    I fully understand -- am very sympathetic -- to contractors who deal with jerks like that. My only hope in buying a part ahead of time was that I wouldn't need to wait while someone drives out to the supply shop and/or orders parts and has to make a return trip. The worse use of anyone's time is driving.

    I'm passionate about this system and like knowing everything I can about it, doing work myself if/when possible. (Just like everything in my house.) I'm certainly not going to haggle with anyone in an attempt to save a few bucks.
    ethicalpaulMad Dog_2
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,725
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    I had the good fortune of having a great local contractor to see my system a bit before he gave up his business and went to work for a utility-- he was very cool and told me the likely culprit and that I'd have no problem installing it myself. He was right on both accounts! It was the control module in my case.

    Full disclosure, it was the week of a bad cold snap and he was running all around town trying to get people's busted stuff in order so he was glad to give me the hint and get back on the road that day (that's always when stuff chooses to break)
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    JakekMad Dog_2
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,283
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    A question to misterED is did you ever make service calls for him again? I don't think the rich guy was so shrewd.

    I know we don't discuss prices but does it not sometimes make economic sense to replace whole appliance? I've seen some whoppers for changing gas valves.
    Mad Dog_2
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,045
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    jumper said:

    A question to misterED is did you ever make service calls for him again? I don't think the rich guy was so shrewd.

    Oh yeah. He was a good customer and I learned to get his approval for any work before hand. I just got the approval from the wrong guy. Fool me once...

    The best part of the deal for me was saving $1500.00 on pavers. and the fact that i installed every one of those blocks myself also saves me a ton of $$$. I asked my Paver Guy customer how much that job would have cost if I paid him retail... I saved over $20,000 on his markup and labor.

    The cement brothers had about 6 residential units plus two homes that they lived in and 2 concrete plants with boilers for hot water cement mixing in the winter. I made money with them. and also discounted my price to them each time. But that discount was the same discount I offered service agreement customers. I just gave them the regular price first and when they asked, I discounted. They paid on time so they were great customers. Likewise I paid their invoices promptly.

    You just need to know how to get your price and also make the customer happy.

    Mr. Ed


    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

    Mad Dog_2
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,099
    edited March 2023
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    NERVE TOUCHED!!! Ha ha...I've been on both ends of that stick.  Its a real KICK IN THE TEETH as an honest, sqaured away bustin-your-butt- contractor,
    When the customer tries to beat you up on your price ESPECIALLY when you were "Johnny on the spot" and the only one showing up at an odd hour or day AND you had the part ON THE TRUCK 🚚 and restored heat, water 💧 what have you.  As Paul ?? said, the wealthy  customer will pay a heavier price going foward because he is NOT appreciating what Mr Ed's company is providing (Superior service).  "They" love to to tell you..."Its JUST business...don't take it personally..why are you getting mad (sic) ..blah blah blah...."   When your heart and soul goes in to everything you do at your company, it DOES become personal. 

     Mr Homeowner (Jake?) Don't you feel one bit guilty about tinkering or DIY.  My super-talented Father Bart Sweeney III, Thoroughbred Horseman and Master woodcarver grew up poor and tried to fix everything himself (my great  father in law Dandy Don US Navy -Vietnam Era too) and often did.  My mother's Mother Ethel Margaret Kearns, a Depression survivor, was almost as handy and talented as my Papa.  She'd take out a library book (pre-internet) and do electrical work, knock down walls...Plumbing...This generation nearly STARVED to death and froze with no heat, had no hot water. ..you weren't scaring or intimidating 😳 or bullying them!)  So I sympathize with you.. its YOUR house...you're taking a chance sometimes but thats YOUR right. Castle Doctrine.   Some of my best clients, are and have been,   super smart and handy folks who have hired us just to do the most difficult part of the job...a tie in of sewer, water, Heat..radiant. if you RESPECT me and our trade,  but can do some stuff yourself, God Bless you.  Two guys come to mind:  1) Emmett (US Navy vet and fambly friend does ALL his own repairs and installations...the quality of his work is better than 90% of licensed Plumbers, electricians, Carpenters. The man is Uber-Talented!  2) My first cousin Sean Sweeney, Grew up with a Super-talented 👏 and fast car mechanic father (Uncle Pat was a highly respected Car mechanic in the Old Neighborhood Ozone Park and Richmond Hill Queens..He worked for only 2 Car dealers over 45 years and they fought over him he was such a talent and money-maker for the boss) who taught his 3 boys car mechanics and all trades. I recently saw Sean's new Kitchen.  Did EVERYTHING himself.....Granite, Buderus Panel rads and piping, cabinets.  Electrical.  Its MAGAZINE quality.   Blown away....I was....and thats very hard to do with me.  I'm a Super Hard-A---- critic of quality. The Soup Nazi of the Mechanical Trades...By the way, I hope Sean will join us here at The Wall as contributor as he is transitioning in to his second illustrious career 😀 as a Professional Home Inspector 🏡.  The boy is SHARP... 

    BOTTOM LINE Here.  Everyone is on strong ground.  None of us are common...we are the exception as professionals and homeowners.  The Holohans and The Wall have brought us together.  Its all good in the neighborhood guys...Mad 🐕 Dog


    Jakek