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How to Quickly Troubleshoot a Defective Blower Kit

Posted by Jason Baker on Aug 11th 2020

How to Quickly Troubleshoot a Defective Blower Kit

As reliable and well-built as our blowers and fan kits are, problems unfortunately do occur. In the event you've run across an issue you can't easily address yourself, here's a few steps you can take to troubleshoot your blower kit installation.

Step 1: Check Power

In order for the blower to function properly, the electrical outlet the blower is plugged into requires constant power. You can test the outlet easily by using a circuit or outlet tester. Both are easy to use and readily available at nearly every major home or hardware store. If you don't have one, you can plug in something else that you know works. A hair dryer, corded lamp or even a phone charger will do the trick. The goal here is to determine that there is power to the outlet. You'd be surprised how often we see outlets not working. They are either defective or were never properly installed by the contractor who installed the fireplace. If you believe your outlet to be defective, a qualified electrician or fireplace repair technician may be needed to further diagnose and repair the issue.

If you have power, then you can proceed to Step 2. If you DO NOT have power, then you'll need to determine why. Some fireplace manufacturers use special outlets or junction boxes, which are labeled and intended to be used with specific accessories. You may notice that it's labeled "FAN", "REM/AUX" and "TRANS". The "FAN" outlet on these junction boxes does not have constant power. They are controlled via a remote control, so power is switched. Depending on your blower kit, you may need to use the "REM/AUX" outlet for power. Junction boxes like this often allow you to add a jumper wire to eliminate the outlet's switching feature, which makes the "FAN" outlet a constant power source. If your outlet looks similar to this, you may need to contact us directly or refer to your owner's manual for additional instructions.

Step 2: Check Wiring

The next step after you've confirmed there's power, is to do a quick survey of the blower kit's wiring harness. We recommend unplugging the blower for this step to ensure you don't accidentally ground a loose or broken wire. Make sure there are no loose or disconnected wires. You should also be looking for any signs of wire fatigue, fraying or corrosion. Any one of these issues can cause a failure in the entire kit.

Step 3: Check Blower Kit Accessories

If the wiring looks good, then we need to consider that one of the blower kit's accessories has failed. Since these accessories are typically wired inline with the blower, a failure in any one of them can cause the entire kit not to work. These accessories include variable speed controllers, timers and thermostat switches. The easiest way of testing each of these accessories is to directly bypass them. On a variable speed controller or thermostat, there will be two wires attached to the accessory. These two wires need to unplugged and bridged together. This is most easily accomplished by creating a short jumper wire that bridges these two leads, effectively bypassing the accessory altogether and re-completing the circuit. If you're not comfortable doing this, we can certainly help over the phone, so don't hesitate to contact us directly.

More advanced troubleshooting techniques can be used on the variable speed controllers and thermostats. To test a thermostat that's still connected, first unplug the blower to reduce any risk of shock. Next, carefully remove the thermostat from the fireplace. We'll need power to the blower for this, so plug the blower back in and be careful not to touch both electrical leads on the thermostat. With a lighter or butane torch, heat the flat side of the thermostat's surface for a few seconds. If you're blower kit has a variable speed control, be sure that the variable speed control is in the ON position. You should hear an audible clicking noise when the thermostat engages. If the thermostat and variable speed control are both working, the blower will turn on. If the blower turns on, you've confirmed the blower kit is working properly. In this case, your issue is likely with the positioning of your thermostat. It's either not positioned properly or is not getting hot enough to trigger the sensor. Try repositioning or re-mounting the thermostat. If you have a magnetic style thermostat, move it to the hottest location below your fireplace that you can find. If you have a snap-style thermostat, like the ones used on the Monessen BLOT blower kit, then be sure that the sensor's surface is flush to the surface of the fireplace. If you do not hear an audible click after heating the sensor and the blower doesn't turn on, there's a good chance the thermostat is defective, especially if you know the variable speed controller is working properly. You can bypass the thermostat using the steps above to confirm this.

On the other hand, if you hear an audible clicking noise after heating the sensor and the blower still doesn't turn on, we may need to focus our attention on the variable speed controller. The variable speed controller isn't as easy to test. You can either bypass the rheostat as described above, or you can test the thermostat for continuity using a volt or multi-meter. First, unplug the two wire leads of the variable speed control so you have the controller and it's black and white wires separated from the blower kit. Next, use your multi-meter's continuity feature to test that the variable speed control has continuity. If no continuity is confirmed, then there's a good chance the variable speed control is defective and needs to be replaced.

Here's a sample installation video where we demonstrate how to properly apply heat to the sensor when testing.

Step 4: Check Blower

If you've gotten this far, then we know power, wiring and all accessories appear to be functioning properly. The last piece of the puzzle then is to check the blower. If the blower isn't turning on at all and we know everything above is good, then the blower may very well be defective and require replacing. However, if the blower is at least spinning but is making mechanical or grinding noises, then something mechanical in the blower may be to blame. It's not uncommon for blowers to experience bearing fatigue or even outright failure. Motors can also become defective. First make sure that your blower is cleaned properly and free from any obstructions. Dirt and grime can accumulate and cause these symptoms, so it's important to inspect your blower regularly and clean them often. If you suspect there's an issue with your blower, again, don't hesitate to reach out to us for additional help.

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