Working With Electric Fires

Electric fires take a heavy load and should be fused accordingly, with a 13 amp. Fuse in a fused plug. The element in a fire is a coiled piece of wire with a high resistance. When a current flows through it, it glows.

In the simplest one or two bar fire, each element is made by wrapping wire around a bar insulator, either bare or with silica glass casing. These fires have guards across the front. If a bar fails, pull out the plug and remove the guard. The ends of the element may have sleeve covers over the connections. Slide these clear. The connection is usually a screwed projection held to a bracket by a knurled nut. Release the nuts and spring one bracket to release the element so a new one can be fitted. Make sure the nuts are tight and the guard secure before putting the fire back into use. While the element is out, take the opportunity to polish the reflector.

Another type of fire has the wire element in a fire-clay unit, with the coiled wire sprung around grooves. If it fails, it is unsafe to try to link the broken ends. For many fires it is best to get another complete fireclay unit already wired. This has

to be screwed into place and the terminals must be connected. Alternatively, it is possible to get a new coiled element to fit into the old fireclay backing. Note how the old fireclay element was fixed. Besides attaching to terminals at its ends there may be clips at intervals through the fireclay. Straighten their ends and pull them out of the front. A clearly defined lighter blue cone inside. If there is any yellowing of the flame, heat is reduced and there is a greater tendency to produce soot. This can be removed by increasing the air to the burner. There may be an adjusting screw under the supply part of the burner. If not, ask the gas board to adjust the burner. If the burner can be lifted out, occasionally wash it through with hot water after clearing the holes.

The new coil has to be evenly tensioned. Mark it into the same number of divisions as the grooves in the fireclay so each part is pulled the same amount as it is fitted. Join its ends to the terminals and replace the clips. Make sure the fireclay block is fitted securely and any guard is replaced. Fires tend to attract dust and it is worthwhile brushing the fire-clay and vacuum cleaning the case when the parts are dismantled. If a pilot jet fails, it is probably blocked. Use a fine wire pricker to clear it, but not a pin or needle, which might damage the jet.

A bowl reflector fire works in the same way as a flat fireclay unit. If it fails, take off the rear cover, disconnect the element ends from the terminals and fit a new element. It will do the bowl good to give it a polish while the element is out. Make sure the earth wire is connected to the reflector and the guard is replaced securely.

Heat is radiated by flames playing on fireclay bars, called radiants, and these may break and need replacing. There are two modern types: separate bars and box radiants. Older fires have upright honeycomb radiants standing over each jet. A protective grill in front of the fire may be sprung or screwed in place and should be removed before replacing radiants.

Box radiants stand in slots and can be lifted and pulled forward. Put in a new section by engaging the top and lowering it into the slot. Horizontal bars can be lifted one at a time and slid out of its slot, until the damaged one is reached. The upright honeycomb radiants have a bar across their tops to retain them. Release this and lift away the ones to be replaced.

If there is electric ignition from a battery, this can be reached after removing a panel. If there is a fire effect and it needs a new bulb, unplug the fire and lift off the effect panel, then remove any spinners to get at the bulb.

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