Old wall mount gas heaters have been a popular choice at several households despite the emergence of several modern alternatives.
While the reluctance to change an already installed heater can be a reason, the reason why they have existed for so long can be primarily attributed to two significant factors.
The first one is that it is still one of the most economical options available. Secondly, it is one of the easiest to maintain and clean by your own without really requiring you to call up a professional or a technical expert.
These heaters are primarily installed permanently installed in one of the corners of the houses and is mainly powered by gas.
Though the cleaning process may be easy, it needs to be done quite frequently and thoroughly to ensure that the operations remain seamless for an extended period, especially if you are based in a region which is prone to fluctuating weather and sandstorms.
Make sure that you follow the below mentioned steps to clean your old wall mount gas heater:
Tools You’ll Need to Clean an Old Wall Mount Gas Heater
- Screwdriver (if needed)
- A small vacuum cleaner with a hose. If you have a handheld one, that’ll make your job a little easier).
- If you don’t have a vacuum cleaner, you might want to use a blower or a medium to a high-pressure air blower.
- A small brush or an old toothbrush.
- A mild dishwashing soap
- Lint-free cloth – two pieces.
P.S: Avoid any chemicals at all costs.
When chemicals are used, they would not only leave their residue on the top of the heater but also release toxic fumes when the heater is turned on.
You’ll undoubtedly want to avoid that.
Steps to Clean an Old Wall Mount Gas Heater
Step 1: As with all the electrical and gas appliances in your house, safety first. Turn off the gas, as well as the heater and let it cool for around at least an hour or two.
Step 2: When the heater has been cooled down to the room temperature, find the main breaker panel where the fuses are located.
Cut off the power supply by turning off the breaker switch. Find the gas valve and shut it off as well.
This is typically behind the wall in the panel or in the basement. Once located, twist the lever towards “off” to ensure that the gas is not flowing anymore.
Step 3: Follow up the process by removing the outer grill on the wall mounted heater. It’s time to unscrew the main cover from the top of the heating unit, as per the instruction manual.
Under most of the circumstances, you’ll find four screws fixed at the corners.
Unscrew them one by one with a screwdriver and unlatch the cover from the top.
As a precaution, please check if you need to pull out the knob before pulling out the cover.
Step 4: Detach the grill from the unit and take it out to a sink for cleaning. Brush of the loose dust particles with a soft filament brush or cloth.
Then dampen a sponge with warm water the clean the front and back part of the grill to remove the dust from it.
Do not use any chemical oriented or flammable cleaning products throughout this process as they may damage the filter as well as the unit.
Remove the water droplets with a soft, lint-free cloth. Give it some time to dry under the shade in a less humid environment.
Step 5: Fetch a vacuum cleaner to clear the unit of dust and debris. Plug in a vacuum cleaner and insert a brush attachment onto the end of the hose to pull out all dirt inside the nooks and corners of the wall heater gently.
If required, use a small toothbrush to remove dust from the areas where dust has coagulated and is hard to remove.
Procedure to clean a vent free gas heater pilot light
When you’re cleaning the pilot, make sure that you have the proper equipment to handle this cleanup.
You don’t want to be harsh with the pressure (it’s recommended that it shouldn’t be greater than 100 PSI), as there is a fiberglass tube inside the pilot’s metallic body.
If you go above 100 PSI, you risk busting the orifice, and then you would have a huge flame that overtakes the entire system. You certainly don’t want to do that.
Follow the pilot tube down, and you’ll find a little nut down there. Loosen the nut up.
It shouldn’t be very tight, and in some instances, it can be removed with a gentle twist.
Place the vacuum nozzle at the bottom of the tube and turn on the vacuum for a few seconds to suck all the particles from within the tube.
When you are done, replace the nut and the tube back to their original positions.
Step 6: Once the grill is dry, replace it back into the wall mounted heater. Also, put the cover back into its place.
Replace the screws into their position and tighten them up with a screwdriver.
Clean the surface of the grill or cover with a lint-free cloth as well.
Finally, turn on the electricity and gas connections for the wall heater.
Common Issues When an Old Wall Mount Gas Heater is Not Cleaned
It is usually recommended that the wall mount heaters are cleaned at least twice a year.
If proper attention is not given to its cleanliness and maintenance, it can not only result in more trouble but would end up depleting the system’s life in the longer run.
Apart from this, if the heater has not been used for a long time, they tend to reek out a burning smell when the heater is turned on.
This is primarily due to debris, dust, and hair collected and built upon the surface of the heater.
While it is not really a reason to fret, it’s recommended to avoid the trouble in the first instance.
Lack of cleanliness may be one of the core problems with the heaters.
If your heater is relatively new, and you observe some erratic behavior, such as heating brick not turning on the way it should be, it is likely that we can attribute this to lack of cleanliness.
There is a valid reason to say so.
For instance, if your heater is getting a proper propane supply, but it is not getting the right amount of oxygen required to burn one of the bricks may turn out to be blue (instead of red), it might be a sign that something is certainly not good, and that it needs to be fixed.
We can try rectifying this by cleaning it up. If upon opening the panel it is likely that you would find a lot of dust jammed inside the unit.
This is a clear indication that it needs to be cleaned. However, if that doesn’t really work, then it may be the right time to bring a technical expert on board and have it checked.
Some of the Best Features of Wall Mount Gas Heaters
The wall mount gas heaters are available in both the vented and unvented versions.
They can supply heat which is enough to warm up a small to medium sized room within a few minutes.
While there are electrical versions to it, however, they can be mostly found to be dependent on propane or natural gas supply.
In case you have an issue, or if it isn’t working properly, this can be attributed to the ignitor – the standing pilot light.
Though it’s rare, it does happen.
However, not all the problems that you might have is due to the lack of cleanliness within the unit itself.
There are some of the common issues that need to be considered when fixing the wall mounted heater.
Troubleshooting Wall Mounted Gas Heaters
Vented room heaters have a lot in common with the water heaters in your homes.
They have a small pilot – a flame that keeps on burning throughout the period as long as the heater is turned on and the gas supply is flowing.
When the weather worsens, and the room temperature lowers down, the thermostat detects the change in temperature and send a signal to the gas valve to open so that the burner can light up.
Some of the better, yet more expensive gas heaters would extract gas from the external source rather than depleting the gas from the room.
Also, if you are opting for getting the heater installed in your home, make sure that you get a vented one, as the ventless heaters produce carbon monoxide and water vapor which makes it unsuitable for indoor use.
The Pilot Doesn’t Light Up
There may be instances where the pilot in your gas heater won’t light up, despite following the right process.
When this happens, the first thing that you need to do is to check the gas supply.
If you have a propane-based gas heater, check whether there is enough gas in the tank.
Alternatively, if the system runs on natural gas, check the gas pipeline whether it is broken or leaked.
If everything looks fine, there is a possibility that the aperture may be blocked; it needs to be cleared out.
Use a needle to clear the rust or debris near the aperture of the combustion chamber.
It would be much better if you can disassemble the pipe tube and blow in some air to unblock it from the carbon that has clogged the pipe.
The Pilot Blows Out
If your pilot constantly flickers, or the flame goes out regularly, you can suspect that there is definitely something blocking the pipe tube.
There may be several instances when the pipe gets choked up because the insects would find space within it. If your heater still doesn’t work, then it is because of the faulty thermocouple.
It’s a small heat sensor which is placed right next to the pilot to indicate whether the appropriate temperature has reached so that the burner can turn on.
Usually, when it is defective or too far away from the pilot, it won’t stay lit. One of the possible fixes could be reaching under the heater and pushing it closer to the pilot.
But in case the thermocouple has worn out, it may need to be replaced.
The Burner Doesn’t Light Up, Despite the Pilot being Turned On
This can be due to two primary reasons: either there’s an issue with the thermostat, or there is some problem with the wiring connections.
If the temperature around the thermostat isn’t cold enough, the thermostat won’t light up anyway. You can check this by turning up the flame this way.
If this doesn’t work, then there’s some issue with the wiring inside the thermostat box or the heater.
If you can find any faults with the wiring as well, then this is an indicator of the faulty gas valve, and it might have to be replaced.
Avoid doing it on your own, since it’s a dangerous job and requires technical expertise or supervision of a qualified/ certified professional.
The Pilot Flame is not Blue
Under normal circumstances, the pilot flame is usually blue.
If you have a ventless heater that has a yellow flame, that means that your pilot light needs to be cleaned.
When the flame is partially yellow, what happens is it is changing the atmospheric pressure, and it would shut your heater off.
It will only stay lit for a few minutes if that happens.
The cleanliness and maintenance is an important exercise that needs to be carried out every few months to ensure that the unit remains functional during the harsh weather conditions.
Moreover, make sure that you undertake all the safety precautions to keep yourself safe. In case you have doubts, refer to the manual or call an expert to assist you with the process.