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Old 04-19-2021, 06:28 AM   #1
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Strange furnace problem

We are halfway through a two month trip in Utah. We have needed the furnace every night and it has worked flawlessly...almost. Since replacing the sail switch last year the new one has gone through several hundred cycles without a hitch' and I am well acquainted with the click the furnace makes when it gets the "all good" signal from the sail switch and begins ignition.

A week or so ago I awoke during the night and it felt cold...too cold. The temp in the trailer was 52, thermostat showed furnace set on 60 but it was not running. I turned it off and back on again and the furnace kicked in, ignited and ran normally the rest of the night. Ran normally for another week or so, I figured some little electrical glitch but since it was working OK nothing to check out.

Tonight it did it again. I was able to cycle it off and back on and it resumed operation. A few hours later I heard the furnace short-cycle, came on but ran about a minute and quit. Boosted the temp setting until it came on, I heard the sail switch click normally but no ignition and the blower quit after about a minute.

Waited a little while and tried again. Furnace ignited and ran this time so I turned the thermostat up a bunch to heat the trailer as much as possible in case it quit again, we are at Bryce Canyon and low will be in the 20's. Waiting to see now if the furnace will cycle again, but the sun will be up in a couple of hours so we are OK tonight.

Does this sound like a circuit board issue? The failure to ignite seems to point at that, but the intermittent failure has me puzzled. Plenty of propane and all other propane appliances are working fine.

OCD boy scout that I am, I have a spare furnace circuit board and will likely put that in today to se if that eliminates the problem, but want to run this by the group and see if there is anything else I should be checking.
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Old 04-19-2021, 07:57 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by davidmurphy02 View Post
We are halfway through a two month trip in Utah. We have needed the furnace every night and it has worked flawlessly...almost. Since replacing the sail switch last year the new one has gone through several hundred cycles without a hitch' and I am well acquainted with the click the furnace makes when it gets the "all good" signal from the sail switch and begins ignition.

A week or so ago I awoke during the night and it felt cold...too cold. The temp in the trailer was 52, thermostat showed furnace set on 60 but it was not running. I turned it off and back on again and the furnace kicked in, ignited and ran normally the rest of the night. Ran normally for another week or so, I figured some little electrical glitch but since it was working OK nothing to check out.

Tonight it did it again. I was able to cycle it off and back on and it resumed operation. A few hours later I heard the furnace short-cycle, came on but ran about a minute and quit. Boosted the temp setting until it came on, I heard the sail switch click normally but no ignition and the blower quit after about a minute.

Waited a little while and tried again. Furnace ignited and ran this time so I turned the thermostat up a bunch to heat the trailer as much as possible in case it quit again, we are at Bryce Canyon and low will be in the 20's. Waiting to see now if the furnace will cycle again, but the sun will be up in a couple of hours so we are OK tonight.

Does this sound like a circuit board issue? The failure to ignite seems to point at that, but the intermittent failure has me puzzled. Plenty of propane and all other propane appliances are working fine.

OCD boy scout that I am, I have a spare furnace circuit board and will likely put that in today to se if that eliminates the problem, but want to run this by the group and see if there is anything else I should be checking.
Hi: davidmurphy02... Cat hair in the sail switch? Alf
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Old 04-19-2021, 08:19 AM   #3
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An update to my original post. After several episodes last night it seems that what I have is an intermittent failure to ignite. Happened 3 times last night, each time after several minutes I recycled the thermostat and the furnace restarted and ran, has been running off and on for several hours now.

So the question is, can the control board fail intermittently like this or could it be a mechanical/physical issue in the burner/igniter?
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Old 04-19-2021, 08:46 AM   #4
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I always thought once an electrical problem happens it becomes consistent, perhaps it is something else, propane?
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Old 04-19-2021, 08:49 AM   #5
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Bad thermostat? It happens, especially if it's digital. This isn't on point, but may lead you to a test that works for you: https://arnoldservice.com/how-do-i-b...mostat-is-bad/
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Old 04-19-2021, 10:43 AM   #6
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Bad thermostat? It happens, especially if it's digital. This isn't on point, but may lead you to a test that works for you: https://arnoldservice.com/how-do-i-b...mostat-is-bad/
I wondered about that at first...and I have an extra thermostat as well. But after watching several occurrences of the problem it seems clear that the thermostat is telling the furnace to turn on OK, and the furnace starts, gets the OK from the sail switch and then tries to ignite but fails. Has to be the control board or a problem with the igniter.
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Old 04-19-2021, 11:22 AM   #7
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I trust your battery voltage is high enough to run the blower strong enough to overcome the cat hair. Maybe it was on the edge of being to low as the fridge circuit was using some...then not.
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Old 04-19-2021, 12:21 PM   #8
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I trust your battery voltage is high enough to run the blower strong enough to overcome the cat hair. Maybe it was on the edge of being to low as the fridge circuit was using some...then not.
Battery voltage 12.6 after running the furnace overnight...at least when it ran. We got here yesterday with batteries at 100% so no issues with low voltage.

I just got through replacing the control board...even easier than doing the sail switch. New one checks out so I know it works....will find out tonight if that was it, if the intermittent problem still persists you will hear a very loud groan...
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Old 04-19-2021, 12:53 PM   #9
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Did the quick scan of your description and seems to track my recent experience: https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f...lly-20198.html

In short the board fixed the issue for me...pun intended.
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Old 04-19-2021, 02:30 PM   #10
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Did the quick scan of your description and seems to track my recent experience: https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f...lly-20198.html

In short the board fixed the issue for me...pun intended.
Good to hear, that sounds exactly like bbn my problem. Hopefully my new board will fix it...it is an OEM board, if it works I will get a Dinosaur board for next time.
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Old 04-19-2021, 02:43 PM   #11
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I always thought once an electrical problem happens it becomes consistent...
It would be nice if that were true. Many people have spent many hours chasing intermittent electrical problems, particularly in electronic circuit boards.
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Old 04-19-2021, 08:05 PM   #12
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My first thought at that elevation would have been, perhaps the spark gap needed adjustment due to the lower oxygen content of the air? That's because I had that problem in a U-Haul furnace years ago. Totally different furnace.
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Old 04-19-2021, 08:46 PM   #13
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It would be nice if that were true. Many people have spent many hours chasing intermittent electrical problems, particularly in electronic circuit boards.
For sure. Been there, done that.
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Old 04-20-2021, 08:09 AM   #14
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Well, it wasn't the circuit board...same problem with the new one last night. But some more enlightenment, the fridge sputtered and went out also. It must be a propane issue. I suspect the combination of high altitude (about 8000 feet), cold weather, and being down to the end of the first propane tank resulted in very low pressure. On a full tank now and fridge seems happy and furnace has done several cycles succesfully.
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Old 04-20-2021, 08:11 AM   #15
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Well, it wasn't the circuit board...same problem with the new one last night. But some more enlightenment, the fridge sputtered and went out also. It must be a propane issue. I suspect the combination of high altitude (about 8000 feet), cold weather, and being down to the end of the first propane tank resulted in very low pressure. On a full tank now and fridge seems happy and furnace has done several cycles succesfully.
So, you do not open both tanks simultaneously while in use?
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Old 04-20-2021, 08:17 AM   #16
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So, you do not open both tanks simultaneously while in use?
Yes I do. But I think just before the auto changeover, pressure in the almost empty tank is lower, and at very high altitude that can make a difference.
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Old 04-20-2021, 08:39 AM   #17
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So, you do not open both tanks simultaneously while in use?
We've ran out of gas in both tanks by opening both valves simultaneously. I just can't get it into my head to check the tanks frequently. Perhaps it's part of my dyslexia. After a couple of times camping and running out of gas I gave up and now open only one valve.

We just got home after three months on the road and I only had to get out once in the middle of the night to open the other tanks valve. We also can smell gas in the camper coming from the stovetop when the tank is getting empty. I believe that has to do with the lower pressure of a 99% empty tank. I then go outside and switch tanks and know it's time to fill the empty tank. Works for us!

We also own a 13# full height LP tank that will fit in the tank compartment if needed. We've yet to have to use that 13# tank because both 20# tanks have emptied.

I understand that checking daily works for others, but it just doesn't work for everyone.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 04-20-2021, 08:48 AM   #18
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We also can smell gas in the camper coming from the stovetop when the tank is getting empty.
I'm not sure I understand this. Please explain.
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Old 04-20-2021, 08:50 AM   #19
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We've ran out of gas in both tanks by opening both valves simultaneously. I just can't get it into my head to check the tanks frequently. Perhaps it's part of my dyslexia. After a couple of times camping and running out of gas I gave up and now open only one valve.

We just got home after three months on the road and I only had to get out once in the middle of the night to open the other tanks valve. We also can smell gas in the camper coming from the stovetop when the tank is getting empty. I believe that has to do with the lower pressure of a 99% empty tank. I then go outside and switch tanks and know it's time to fill the empty tank. Works for us!

We also own a 13# full height LP tank that will fit in the tank compartment if needed. We've yet to have to use that 13# tank because both 20# tanks have emptied.

I understand that checking daily works for others, but it just doesn't work for everyone.

Enjoy,

Perry
Lifting the tanks out of the hatch just to check the volume is an absolute PITA. Do yourself a huge favor and buy tank monitors that actually work:Mopeka Products https://www.amazon.com/AP-Products-1...8926558&sr=8-4
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Old 04-20-2021, 09:02 AM   #20
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Cold comfort!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidmurphy02 View Post
Yes I do. But I think just before the auto changeover, pressure in the almost empty tank is lower, and at very high altitude that can make a difference.
Hi: davidmurphy02... Do you have tank gauges? Alf
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