I have a Heatilator ND4236 gas fireplace (natural gas). The thermopile (Q313A) fails every two to three years (I have read they should last at least five). What could be causing the too frequent failures?
Factors that might be relevant:
- The first two times it failed, I hired an HVAC company to come repair it and I don't know if they used the right part (I got the Q313A part number off the part they used)
- The Heatilator manual only references the part as part of the pilot assembly (2103-010)
- I tend to leave the pilot on year round (I didn't know how to properly light it until recently and messing with it was low on my priority list)
- I have never attempted to clean the thermopile with sandpaper to see if that fixes the problem (I have only ever replaced it once myself, yesterday)
- The fireplace is 19 or so years old and I only know about the last seven years worth of maintenance (basically none besides the two times the HVAC company worked on it and my recent replacement of the failed thermocouple and thermopile)
- The thermocouple doesn't seem to fail as often (I don't believe the HVAC company replaced it and it only recently failed for the first time since I have owned the fireplace)
- The specific parts I used to fix it this time are thermopile and thermocouple
The part is only $15 on Amazon (compared $60 - $100 the pilot assembly costs or the hundreds the HVAC company was charging me), so I don't really care that much unless this is a symptom of some larger problem waiting to crop up.
Additional information that now seems relevant: the fireplace is also controlled by a wall switch. It is probable that the builder used a standard 120 volt switch and the thermopile can't generate enough power to overcome the resistance after a few years. Cleaning the thermopile may help, but the right solution may just be to find a better switch. I am going to check the switch when I get home.