Any needed service for Atwood heaters? I've got a fair amount of black outside

Discussion in 'Heating / Cooling Systems' started by Spridle, Nov 17, 2014.

  1. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    I think it's a 7912III but I'm going off memory. Roughly 20,000BTU with electronic ignition. It heats fine and runs fine - especially after buying a new motor and plastic cage fan for it (man does it run quiet and smooth now). But I noticed after our last outing quite a solid bit of black soot on the side of the camper. now to be fair we had driving sleet and wind and the damn thing ran for something like 30 hours straight to get that soot. You could smell the exhaust a bit inside as well. I'm not overly worried, but it just made me wonder if there's a service interval for these things or if I need to be thinking about a new gas valve for it?

    I'm camping this weekend. It's supposed to be 17 on Friday night. WTH am I thinking?
     
  2. bondebond

    bondebond New Member

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    The closest I have seen for servicing Atwood products comes from a link at Adventurerv.net. I have used it a few times and it has occasionally been helpful. Not too often, however.

    That much soot and especially smelling exhaust inside is not a good or normal thing. Make sure that you don't have a gap near the roof where the canvas attaches to the roof but also make sure you clean out the burner tube of the furnace. The point of this type of furnace is to allow zero exhaust inside the PUP.
     
  3. bondebond

    bondebond New Member

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    And I would try "L.A.'s Totally Awesome" to clean the black off of the hard shell exterior of your PUP. One spray bottle literally costs $1 at the dollar stores.
     
  4. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    OK. I'll look through the manual. I"m currently not too concerned about the smell inside. It hasn't happened before this trip and the winds were brutal. Too the point where we didn't really feel all that safe in the camper. I'll have to check but I don't think there's any smell coming from the heated air itself, just a slight exhaust smell being driven back in under those conditions.
     
  5. bondebond

    bondebond New Member

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    Correct. There should be zero smell of exhaust from the air being sent back into the camper. On the front panel of the unit inside, the cold air return is at the bottom of the furnace and the heated air comes out the top. There is a combustion chamber that pulls fresh air from the outside, ignites the propane and heat is exchanged through the walls into the inner portion of the furnace that heats the interior air. The two air systems never mix. If you are getting exhaust inside, then there is either a fracture in the heating chamber wall or, more likely, wind is blowing it into a gap in the tenting areas. Not great cause for concern, but make sure that carbon monoxide tester is fresh (less than 10 years old) and that the battery is fresh. You don't smell nor wake up from carbon monoxide poisoning.
     
  6. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    I only have whatever alarm came in the camper. I suppose I should look at a second more modern CO detector. As I said, I don't think there's a crack in the exchanger, I think it was just wind driven. The canvas is pretty tight, but it's still canvas and it is a fifteen year old trailer so there are certainly some gaps around. This weekend will be cold as hell but calm. We'll see how it does then.

    None of us had a headache at all the next morning. Just a bit dry from breathing crazy dry air all night.
     
  7. Heartman_wa

    Heartman_wa Active Member

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    Black soot is a sign of incomplete combustion. In the front (inside the PU) is a flame defuser it's a metal plate with a bunch of small holes in it. These can burn through and cause that also. But with that much wind it could have been blowing in the exhaust and cause the same thing. I would add a CO detector.
     
  8. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    Good to know. The soot is not up and out, it appears to only be coming out the one side and it's horizontal down the side of the camper. I'll have to clean it and see what happens now.

    Anyone have suggestions on detectors? It's got the factory unit in there. I assumed it was an LP and CO detector but maybe not? Should I just replace that with new, or go for redundancy?
     
  9. fallsrider

    fallsrider Active Member

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    If you have the factory unit, it is almost guaranteed to only be an LP detector. To get the CO detection, I installed this unit in our TT. It fit the cutout without any modifications.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003ZJLD3G/ref=sr_ph?ie=UTF8&qid=1416306735&sr=1&keywords=Propane+detector


    Sent from my iPad
     
  10. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    That looks perfect. And with two young kids (although not as young as they were a short time ago....) it's worth every penny. Doesn't look like I can get it here in time for this trip though.

    We may actually bail on the camping and hit the local hotel. I can't quite figure out the logistics. Do I leave the fridge on? Or leave it off and hope everything doesn't freeze in the 17 degree temps. Or will the furnace right next to it get the fridge hot enough to spoil all the food? Camping is always a lot of prep and work, but this three days of freezing temps seems a bit much!

    Camping world has the brown model on closeout for $80. Went ahead and ordered it to have it for next year. That's the type of thing that's too easily put off forever - so just doing it now so it's in.
     
  11. bondebond

    bondebond New Member

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    Mine came from the factory with an LP detector near the floor, where it should be, and a CO detector (looks much like a smoke detector, round puck in shape) mounted to the ceiling. Be sure to check your ceiling for a possible CO detector that surely needs replacing by now (1998 model Coleman, replace it or install new for sure).
     
  12. tfischer

    tfischer Well-Known Member

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    What color is the flame inside the unit? Propane is very clean burning and should be blue with no (or very little) orange.
     
  13. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    Good questions. I will try to check the flame tomorrow before I close up for the frostbite run to CT.

    As for the detector. None beyond the factory LP in the floor. As far as I know, CO detectors also go low. It's been awhile since I did it, but I used to do security and CO was always low as far as I remember.
     
  14. bondebond

    bondebond New Member

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    from http://www.homesafe.com/coalert/

    Bear in mind that lots of opinions by many experts are abundant and I can find links to high, medium and low. Most important would be to have one that is functional and in use.
     
  15. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    Well I'm still alive! Not without incident though. The soot continues and I'd say is maybe even a bit worse. Now it's all in the upward direction as we had no wind this weekend. I'll have to read the manuals and hit google as well. Initial searches show that insects nests as usual are a common reason for these furnaces to not be achieving full combustion.

    The other issue is that last night the (long stream of serious expletives) auto switchover valve didn't show one tank as empty, or switch over to the other. I went to bed last night prepared for some serious cold temps so I didn't even notice the temps dropping in the camper. But subconsciously I knew something wasn't right. Finally about 4:00am I realized I had not heard the fan shut off at all or the gas solenoids clicking either. Peeked my head out and HOLY MOTHER OF ___! 11.7F inside and 11.2F outside! I was toasty warm and had no idea. But let me tell you getting out of bed to eleven degrees was quite the experience. I messed around a bit but finally gave up and went back to bed for a couple hours until the sun was up. Somewhere in the trouble shooting at 4 I did think to look at the fridge pilot which was still lit on low so I didn't think about no propane and the valve didn't show an empty tank. It wasn't until later that morning when I went to light the cooktop that I discovered I had no gas. One tank was completely empty, the other completely full. The valve was pointed to the empty tank, but was display green. I swapped the empty tank for the spare that I had brought and the furnace fired right back up.

    Not sure what I'll do from here. Read up a bit on things and take a peak myself. I'm not opposed to taking it to a mechanic to let them look things over too, but I don't know any good ones around here so that's a problem.

    I seem to think we've had a slight odor of things not burning exactly right since I put that valve in this past spring. I'm not sure it's playing a role in this or not, but I will need to figure that out. It did properly switch and display the tank condition on last months trip. But this is only the second time since I put it in that it's needed to switch over, so I don't have a lot to go on.
     
  16. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

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    Did you screw it up when you changed the fan? It has a combustion fan also.
     
  17. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    I suppose that's possible but I wouldn't put it in the likely column. The combustion fan is there and there's not much you can do t screw it up. Too cold and too many other things going on to mess with it right now. One ting I'm going to do though is put the original regulator back on and see if that changes anything. I"m just wondering if that dual tank valve is killing the pressure or flow.
     
  18. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

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    Check for fan-forced airflow out the exhaust before ignition. Was the combustion fan changed to plastic also? It does sound like your problems began after the repairs.
     
  19. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    I didn't see a part number for a plastic composite combustion fan. If you know of one please post and I'l follow up.

    I don't think you can say they started after my repairs as my repairs started before the damn thing ever made it into the camper. I do think it was burning more cleanly before I put in the dual tank valve, but I didn't have enough of a history with it before that to say for sure. I might have enough of a history had I kept a log over the past couple years, but I didn't think I would need that kind of data.

    The only thing we can say for sure is that we know it's not burning properly. Everything else is an unknown at this point. I do have the ability to read pressure, although not easily. But that might have to be part of the testing at some point.
     
  20. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    I just went to to Amazon to see when I bought the regulator and get contact info. Seems in the time I bought it the reviews have gone down hill. Many reports of gas flow issues, inability to keep some devices lit, failure to switch over ect. I'm not sure if they are supposed to do this or not, but I noticed I could not pull one tank without first shutting the full tank off as gas would leak back out the unconnected side.

    Still complete conjecture that the two issues are connected, but it's clear i need to find a better regulator to start with. I would have MUCH preferred to manually change that tank before bed than to wake up to 11 degrees inside the camper.
     

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