Boiler Fault Finder

Thermistors

Thermistor faults

Thermistors work in conjunction with the user potentiometer (boiler setting for temperature), and the Printed Circuit Board (PCB).

A small Direct Current (DC) is sent to the thermistor via the potentiometer, the PCB then knows whether to give more, or less gas to ensure the correct water temperature. This will depend on a small voltage drop due to the change in current.

Thermistors also indicate to come on when the temperature gets too cold (frost protection). The boiler will ignite when the resistance reading drops below a certain level. Thermistors can be used to monitor other things such as anti-scale (pump over-run).

Symptoms of faulty boiler thermistor

  • Scale / magnetite deposits affecting heat transfer / sensitivity
  • System water ingress (causing open circuit / infinity)
  • Loss in manufacturers calibration
  • Damaged terminals / connections / wiring faults

Two types of thermistor

  1. NTC (Negative temperature co-efficient)
  2. PTC (Positive temperature co-efficient)

NTC Thermistor

Shows a decrease of electrical resistance when the system water increases in temperature and shows an increase of electrical resistance when the system water decreases in temperature.

These decrease the resistance proportionally with an increase in temperature. For example 25 degrees C to start at 12,000 Ohms, to 55 degrees C at 4,000 Ohms. As the temperature goes up, resistance comes down.

Typical starting resistances are in the range of 12-15,000 Ohms (12-15k Ohms), down as low as 900 Ohms when boiling.

PTC Thermistor

Shows an increase of electrical resistance when the system water increases in temperature and shows a decrease of electrical resistance when the system water decreases in temperature.

This is the opposite of an NTC. As the temperature increases proportionally with temperature rise. They are identical to look at as an NTC, they just behave differently.

From a 10 degree start at 800 Ohms, up to 90 degrees at 1600 Ohms. They are less common than NTC thermistors.

Typical Sequence:

As the system water increases in temperature, the resistance of the NTC thermistor, decreases, and the potentiometer at the p.c.b then varies the voltage to the modureg on the gas valve, which in turn, modulates the burner accordingly, to match the demand for the heat load.

To Test a Thermistor:

  • Electrically isolate boiler / system controls
  • Ascertain system water temperature (near to thermistor) by using a thermal laser or clamp on thermal sensor
  • Remove thermistor wires (at the p.c.b end) to prevent stray resistances from the p.c.b itself
  • Set multimeter on ohms scale for resistance readings

Note: PTC thermistors only: the black lead from the multimeter must go on the metal casing of the sensor and the red lead from the multimeter must go on the terminal of the sensor. Resistance readings must be cross referenced to that of the manufacturer specification, to prove correct manufacturer calibration.

  • Closed circuit of less than 1 ohm = faulty
  • No resistance/infinity = faulty

An example of NTC resistance values:

Temperature (degrees C) resistance (ohms)
0 35400
10 22500
20 14700
25 12000
30 9835
40 6712
50 4672
60 3311
70 2388
80 1749
90 1300
100 980
110 749

Graphs Representing resistance versus temperature

>NTC thermistor

NTC Thermistor

PTC thermistor

PTC Thermistor

Expected Thermistor Manufacturer Readings

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