So, it's the start of fire pit or fireplace season. But, instead of it being an easy start, your hearth appliance is refusing to work. Maybe the ignitor simply refuses to spark. Or, the door glass is in pieces, and the kids are pointing fingers at each other. This leads to questions and concerns about how to fix the appliance.
eFireplaceStore is always willing to help you figure out how to get back to enjoying your fire. From troubleshooting the problems to locating parts, we can help.
Identifying Your Appliance
The first challenge to get your appliance back in working order depends on the type of appliance you have.
Brand, model, and serial number are three essential pieces of information you'll need. This information provides specifications for your fireplace. So, when our customers are looking for replacement parts, our NFI Certified Technicians will request these bits of information.
We use this information to first seek out literature for the appliance and a parts list. If this can be located, we then reference our supplier portals to see if relevant items are still in available. If the part has been discontinued and is no longer available, there are sometimes retrofit parts available. This most often applies to thermocouples, some gas valve parts, and in some cases, glass door assemblies.
There may not be any direct replacement or retrofit parts available. In this case, we can check with manufacturers that may have purchased obsolete brands to see if they may have any options for replacement parts. Once we've determined if any replacement parts are available, we'll search the inventory of our suppliers.
But, what if you can't find a data plate or any information about your fireplace? The only option in this case would be to search for part numbers that may be affixed to the individual component needing replacement on the fireplace. There are not always part numbers on individual components, but this is truly the last possible option. Manufacturers utilize highly proprietary designs for many of their components and so cross compatibility for parts like doors, louvers, liners, logs, and burner assemblies is very low.
Valve In Pieces, Key Missing?
There are many components to fireplace valves, but for manual valves, the key is the most commonly misplaced. Fireplace keys are some of the easiest to replace. They are relatively uniform across the industry, usually using a 1/4" or 5/16" square cut stem for operation.
There are some replacement pilot light systems out there for common millivolt valves. Some examples include: the Dexen Natural Gas Safety Pilot Valve with electronic ignition or the SIT Manual Propane ODS Pilot Assembly with male threads. These allow you to replace the pilot valve system without replacing the entire fireplace.
Often the valve and the pilot assembly are closely linked. And, it's not always easy to figure out which part is causing the problem. Feel free to give the eFireplaceStore technicians a call for troubleshooting help.
To replace the gas valves and pilot assemblies, you'll need a higher skill-level. Due to safety risks, we strongly recommend hiring an NFI certified installer, licensed plumber, or chimney sweep to complete the task. This will also ensure you meet warranty requirements. And, with professional help, you'll know that your home is always up to building codes in your area.
Louvers Bent, Liners Cracked?
Maybe the issue is not with the functionality of the fireplace but more with its appearance? Are your fireplace walls showing their age, with long or deep cracks covering their faces? Or, did something bend your louvers out of shape? Perhaps the kids threw a game controller and dented the metal faceplate?
These items are much easier to replace than any of the parts associated with the gas flow or flames. You can always seek out exact replacements by reaching out to us here at eFireplaceStore. But, what if your fireplace is so old that the components are no longer available?
In the case of fire brick liners, eFireplaceStore offers a few universal options. A popular item is these Hargrove Panels. You can cut these with a tile or masonry saw to any measurement that you need. These come in a couple of sizes and are an easy replacement project for the weekend DIY-er to complete.
Doors are just as easy to replace and install but are slightly more challenging to find. Often, doors are specific to a particular model or brand.
This is where finding an acceptable retrofit part comes in handy. Luckily, some brands make doors that are more universal than others. Admittedly, they're still brand specific, but it's a handy thing that a few of the manufacturers do.
For the louvers and faceplates, it's a different story. Once they've been discontinued, they're gone for good. Don't fret, though, as you've still got a few options. Local sheet metal shops can fabricate these items. You can run a Google search for "sheet metal fabrication" to find your local prospects.
Sheet metal shops tend to be old school, meaning everything is done over the phone or in person. Once you find a shop that is willing to do the work you need, it is best to remove the old part and take it to the shop.
While there, they will evaluate the shape, cuts/bend, thickness, and the type of material. They will usually offer a quote to make the part at this point. NOTE: Pricing will vary quite a bit by region and due to all the factors listed above. Prices can also fluctuate from year to year. On the bright side, investing in a replacement part is far cheaper than having to replace the entire unit.
Another item of note is to check around with your group of friends and family. There is a good chance that someone knows, has dealings with, or is a contractor. You'll be surprised by the number of people who have needed something fabricated. It's likely that someone may be able to recommend a shop. If all else fails, you can read some customer reviews online for many shops in your local area.
It's Not The Fireplace; It's The Venting
If your problem is not within the fireplace itself but in the venting, it's harder to get a replacement part. This is due to the way hearth appliances are tested and listed. They must use specific venting systems and components. Deviation is not a possibility unless explicitly stated by the manufacturer.
Consider yourself lucky if the chimney parts are still in production. But, if your fireplace is older, then your odds are not good. For a venting problem, be prepared to replace not only the venting but your entire fireplace as well.
The only time a venting issue will not need an entire unit replacement is if it's restricted to the chimney cap. eFireplaceStore offers a wide variety of chimney caps, custom ones as well.
Complete Replacement Required
There are a few instances where a damaged component is no longer produced. There may be no retrofit options available either. In these unfortunate situations, your fireplace or stove will be out of commission. Critical parts include gas burners, log sets in vent-free models, proprietary electronics or motors, and inner fireplace wrappers - if they are rusted through or punctured.
This is due to how these pieces of the fireplace work in their intended position. They cannot be replaced with a universal part.
My Brand Is Gone?
If you have an older fireplace, looking for parts can cause you to run into dead ends. This is especially true for brands that went out of business years ago. Believe it or not, this is fairly common. Many businesses go under due to a lack of demand rather than product quality. It's hard to stay afloat with a low customer base.
Some of these brands include Preway Fireplaces, Quality Manufacturing Inc., Temtex/Temco, TrueHeat, Martin, and Marco. Some of these manufacturers have been out of business for decades. Thus, it can be almost impossible to locate exact replacement parts for them, but there is still hope.
When it comes to gas valves, pilot assemblies, thermocouples, and other components, there is a degree of universal sizing. Gas valves like the SIT 820 and Dexen 6003 series have been in production for many years. This means they can be swapped as replacements for other brands.
Here is a brief list of the most common things that lead to the downfall of a manufacturer.
This can include several things. For instance, poor practices may include a lack of research into product development. Or, it can mean an inefficient manufacturing relationship for production costs. Problems can also stem from a lack of product marketing or a failure to reach the target audience. Again, the possibilities are endless, but it's hard to know for sure.
The need for product expansion is inevitable in an already saturated market. It doesn't matter if a product is well built or generated for a special niche of clientele. A company will fail if they don't diversify and look to innovation to stay relevant. Many manufacturers come to this realization far too late and fail as a result.
Inability to Meet Changing Requirements
This has been the case with many solid-fuel manufacturers over the years. With new EPA standards, many manufacturers lacked a team to develop products up to code. Some companies chose to merge with others, but many ceased operations.
That's My Brand?
Do you have an older fireplace but you can't find any mention of your fireplace online? Have you tried emailing the manufacturer, but customer service seemed to know nothing? Sound familiar? Well, this means you've probably got one of the brands that have gone through some troubles. Some brands have changed hands over the years. Some reorganized, and some merged with others.
You may have heard of some of these. Majestic , Monessen , DESA, FMI, Vantage Hearth, Vanguard, Superior , Lennox Hearth, and Pro Com also experienced merging of some sort.
The Majestic brand name is an old one and has produced a line of great products over the years. But, the brand has been sold across many corporate parents. They have reorganized the brand and continuously changed the model line up. The same thing happened with the DESA/FMI/Vantage Hearth/Vanguard/Superior/Lennox Hearth conglomerate.
Corporate parent DESA manufactured a wide range of wood and gas products under the FMI/Vanguard/Vantage Hearth brands for years. And, parts availability was good for those lines. Management issues and a floundering economy led to the company's bankruptcy in 2008. They reorganized under the FMI name for a few years. And, they eventually merged with Lennox Hearth Products in 2012. The merger formed what is now known as IHP or Innovative Hearth Products. They now manufacture a full range of products under the Superior and Astria brands.
While this seems complicated, it's representative of what has happened to several brands. Manufacturing will proceed for a while, uninterrupted. This means, of course, that parts availability will be good. However, any sale or merger will usually lead to a reorganization of facilities. This often leads to the retirement of tooling and machinery that is set up for the older models. From a business perspective, it doesn't make sense to set up the older tooling in a new facility. So, old parts get lost in the shuffle and become obsolete.
Once a company reorganizes under a new corporate parent, they will conduct an analysis of the previous product line. If sales for specific models are up, the new owner will usually opt to keep manufacturing equipment to produce replacement parts. IHP/Superior/Astria is an excellent example of this. Other companies devote time to parts production for a limited amount of time. In this case, a company tries to build up enough inventory to fulfill anticipated orders.
Here's My Brand!
If you happen to have products made by Empire Comfort Systems, SBI (Osburn , Flame, Valcourt, etc.), Napoleon Fireplaces, Buck Stove, Kingsman Fireplaces, or Dimplex hearth appliance, you'll have an easy time finding replacement parts. These manufacturers continue parts production for years after a unit has been discontinued or has been updated.
All these manufacturers share one thing in common. That is - they are stable and have followed a consistent pattern of ownership and/or independence. They're usually family owned and operated. And, they're slow to migrate away from a product line that is working well for them. This makes finding older parts a much smoother process.
Empire Comfort Systems and SBI have both been independent companies for years. Recently, Empire purchased an ownership stake in SBI. The point of this was to increase market share. Both company heads recognized that having a well-run business depended on customer satisfaction. From this, they agreed to offer a steady supply of replacement parts to past customers. This strategy keeps customers happy and loyal.
eFireplacestore is Here to Help
No matter what your issue with your hearth appliance, eFireplaceStore wants to make sure that you can enjoy a cozy fire when you want to. We're here to help you figure out the problem and help you try and find the part you need to fix it. From replacement firebrick panels to new chimney caps, doors, valves and keys, our NFI Certified techs are ready to help you find the parts you need. They can even help advise you on how to reach out to a sheet metal shop to get the part fabricated.