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Old 05-29-2018, 06:20 PM   #1
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Furnace Exterior Access Panel\Door

Some recent photos of completed Escapes show an access panel\door on which the furnace exhaust vent is mounted. Does anyone have experience with or opinions about furnace access panels\doors?
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Old 05-29-2018, 07:17 PM   #2
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Some recent photos of completed Escapes show an access panel\door on which the furnace exhaust vent is mounted. Does anyone have experience with or opinions about furnace access panels\doors?
This may best be answered by contacting ETI direct.
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Old 05-29-2018, 08:37 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Drumstick63 View Post
Some recent photos of completed Escapes show an access panel\door on which the furnace exhaust vent is mounted. Does anyone have experience with or opinions about furnace access panels\doors?
I have no idea how the furnace pipes could possibly pass thru a door/hatch, since a door swings on hinges (therefore the path describes an arc.) The telescopic pipes need to be pretty well sealed passing through the outside wall, otherwise there is an issue of CO inside the trailer - never seen a furnace installation manual mentioning a door on either Atwood or Suburban models (I've replaced a few.)
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Old 05-29-2018, 09:29 PM   #4
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I have no idea how the furnace pipes could possibly pass thru a door/hatch, since a door swings on hinges (therefore the path describes an arc.) The telescopic pipes need to be pretty well sealed passing through the outside wall, otherwise there is an issue of CO inside the trailer - never seen a furnace installation manual mentioning a door on either Atwood or Suburban models (I've replaced a few.)
The access panel or door or whatever you like to call it is clearly visible in recent build photos. Someone posted a link to the product page for it on here, but now I don't see the post.20180529_202639.jpeg20180529_202618.jpeg
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Old 05-29-2018, 09:37 PM   #5
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I don't see a hinge.
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Old 05-29-2018, 09:50 PM   #6
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I don't see a hinge.
True, but there are screws to secure it. Although I can't tell from the low resolution photos, it looks like the exhaust vent is attached to the panel, and the panel can be removed in order to access the furnace without pulling it from the inside. If that's the case, it's a major improvement if maintenance was ever needed.
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Old 05-29-2018, 10:37 PM   #7
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In talking with Reace at Osoyoos he explained that new minor changes made to the newer furnace ETI is now receiving. Allowed ETI to install the exterior access panel making it much easier to service the furnace unit without having to pull the unit.

I did not dig any further, but if your 2018 trailer did not come with the exterior furnace access panel it is not likely you would be able to add one without changing to the newer furnace, but you can always check with ETI.
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Old 05-29-2018, 10:48 PM   #8
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True, but there are screws to secure it. Although I can't tell from the low resolution photos, it looks like the exhaust vent is attached to the panel, and the panel can be removed in order to access the furnace without pulling it from the inside. If that's the case, it's a major improvement if maintenance was ever needed.
That's right - modern Atwood furnace exterior access panels normally have four screws, no hinge. Atwood calls it a "door", which is probably misleading.

Yes, the fixed exhaust tube lines up with louvers in the panel, and the entire panel is removed for service.

It is a major improvement - although mounting in the way previously used by Escape is a valid option endorsed by Atwood, this series of furnaces were designed for outside access and are normally installed with the outside door. You can see, remove, and replace all major components (control board, fans, fan motor, burner...) from the outside while the furnace housing stays in place.

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Originally Posted by Kent View Post
In talking with Reace at Osoyoos he explained that new minor changes made to the newer furnace ETI is now receiving. Allowed ETI to install the exterior access panel making it much easier to service the furnace unit without having to pull the unit.
I'm glad to see that Reace was able to take advantage of the vertical walls of the current generation of Escape body, and whatever detail changed in the non-ducted version (AFSAD rather than the normal AFSD) to switch to external access mounting ("standard door installation" in Atwood's terms) from the "small vent installation".
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Old 05-30-2018, 12:29 AM   #9
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I have no idea how the furnace pipes could possibly pass thru a door/hatch, since a door swings on hinges (therefore the path describes an arc.) The telescopic pipes need to be pretty well sealed passing through the outside wall, otherwise there is an issue of CO inside the trailer...
Aside from nothing swinging, this isn't an issue because the door provides access to the interior of the furnace cabinet, which is sealed against the outside wall of the trailer so there is no path from the burner and exhaust to the interior. This is like the typical RV water heater.

Even if the door had hinges - like those water heaters - it would still work because the exhaust pipe doesn't need to seal to the door so it just ends at the vent in the door (as it does in the water heaters).

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... never seen a furnace installation manual mentioning a door on either Atwood or Suburban models (I've replaced a few.)
Charlie, I'm guessing that you have worked with Atwood's Everest Star series of furnaces (which includes the model previously used by Escape) or the similar Suburban NT series (which we have in our Boler). Most of Atwood's furnaces, and all of the large ones, have used this external-access design for quite a few years (I have one in a 2002 trailer); Suburban offers this as well, although it looks like in the Suburban SF-series case the final section of exhaust tube is attached to a vent in the door and slides off as the door is removed.
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Old 02-25-2019, 12:46 PM   #10
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Furnace Maintenance

I just finished removing the old style furnace in our early 2018 19 ft Escape to clean the Sail switch which was full of trash. What a involved pain! Thank God for the instructional videos Reace created on how to accomplish this task. I would kill for an outside access door which would have made this a 20 Minute job instead of an all day job for me (learning for the first time).
Makes me wonder if I could install an after market access panel since I suspect this is a regular maintenance item.
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Old 02-25-2019, 01:01 PM   #11
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I will be doing just that. I have a few ideas but still running different products and plans through my mind.
I don’t mind pulling the heater when I am at home but not at 10 pm on a cold night camping.
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Old 02-25-2019, 01:22 PM   #12
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Makes me wonder if I could install an after market access panel since I suspect this is a regular maintenance item.
Something like this was my initial thought for owners like yourself after it was determined that the stock Atwood/Dometic access door cannot be retrofitted. You need something large enough to work on the unit but not so large that it interferes with the stock furnace vent outlet. (By work on I mean replacement/cleaning of sail switch and replacement of circuit board only)

https://www.etrailer.com/Enclosed-Tr...48-979009.html
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Old 02-25-2019, 02:17 PM   #13
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Something like this was my initial thought for owners like yourself after it was determined that the stock Atwood/Dometic access door cannot be retrofitted. You need something large enough to work on the unit but not so large that it interferes with the stock furnace vent outlet. (By work on I mean replacement/cleaning of sail switch and replacement of circuit board only)

https://www.etrailer.com/Enclosed-Tr...48-979009.html

There does not seem to be any door gasket to keep water out on this model.
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Old 02-25-2019, 02:47 PM   #14
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Something like this was my initial thought for owners like yourself after it was determined that the stock Atwood/Dometic access door cannot be retrofitted. You need something large enough to work on the unit but not so large that it interferes with the stock furnace vent outlet. (By work on I mean replacement/cleaning of sail switch and replacement of circuit board only)

https://www.etrailer.com/Enclosed-Tr...48-979009.html
Interesting... I wonder if you could get to both the Sail switch and the circuit board. I would however gladly settle for just having access to the Sail switch.
Also could this be install without affecting the structural integrity of the trailer. By the way, it would be nice to avoid removing the exhaust vent when accessing the unit.
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Old 02-25-2019, 02:51 PM   #15
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Joe , the guy who owns our local RV shop says the Atwood furnaces now come with an outside access because the furnaces have had higher than normal service issues .
He suggested yanking the Atwood furnace and replacing it with a Suburban furnace .
From his experience, the newer Atwood furnaces ( Post Dometic) have been very unreliable . I would rather fix the problem at home regardless of the cost then be on a trip and have it fail again .
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Old 02-25-2019, 02:55 PM   #16
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there does not seem to be any door gasket to keep water out on this model.
good point.
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Old 02-25-2019, 03:21 PM   #17
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Before yanking your furnace, you might want to also consider which one is quieter and which consumes the most battery to run the fan.
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Old 02-25-2019, 03:24 PM   #18
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Joe , the guy who owns our local RV shop says the Atwood furnaces now come with an outside access because the furnaces have had higher than normal service issues .
I think Joe is trying to sound smart, but isn't.

Larger Atwood furnaces have used the outside access door system for many years - maybe decades (my oldest one is from 2002). The current style of smaller furnace (which dates from well before the purchase by Dometic) replaces the old Everest Star series that had no outside access, and simply follows the design of the larger furnaces. Has Joe never seen a larger Atwood furnace?

The current Dometic furnaces may be crap (or not), but the outside access door was not just added due to an increased need for service.
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Old 02-25-2019, 03:34 PM   #19
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I think Joe is trying to sound smart, but isn't.

Larger Atwood furnaces have used the outside access door system for many years - maybe decades (my oldest one is from 2002). The current style of smaller furnace (which dates from well before the purchase by Dometic) replaces the old Everest Star series that had no outside access, and simply follows the design of the larger furnaces. Has Joe never seen a larger Atwood furnace?

The current Dometic furnaces may be crap (or not), but the outside access door was not just added due to an increased need for service.
Joe owns the largest RV dealership in our area and was the largest dealer of one particular brand of trailer in the Midwest . From what I’ve read / researched on the internet , owner’s of other trailer’s are experiencing the same problems as Escape owners ( Circuit boards — sail switch )
I just want a furnace that works and is somewhat realizable
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Old 02-25-2019, 03:40 PM   #20
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There does not seem to be any door gasket to keep water out on this model.
Maybe use a cable hatch. Seems like it would be more weather tight.

https://www.etrailer.com/RV-Exterior...10-2150VP.html
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