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Old 09-09-2013, 11:02 AM   #1
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Smoke Alarm & Furnace

New rig. I had thermo set at Auto and the heater kicked on in middle of the night and set off the smoke alarm (that's always fun in your third night sleeping in a new van).

Anyway, after bailing out the rear doors, grabbing my 10# fire extinguisher I keep in the rear right corner of the van (those 4# that come in the van won't put out a "real" fire) and checking all around for smoke or fire (there was an Oder in the air) I came to the conclusion it was the furnace.

Remember - I didn't know the furnace would be running and hadn't even dry dock tested it give the temps were in the high 90s! But it cooled down at night some and the thermo was set at 85 so it came on like it was supposed to.

Anyhow - appears to be another Quality Control issue at Airstream (anyone feel free to jump in and correct me).

See pics below - after pulling the cover off the furnace I was able to clearly see a bunch of duct rape (100 mph tape) between the gas line and housing, all nice and melted. I think that's the culprit.

I have all the windows and doors open, fire ext at the ready, battery removed from smoke detector and running heat at 90 until smell dissipates. Hope that was the issue.

(Side note) if smoke detector is also "Heat" detector wouldn't a change of 10-15 degrees set it off then as well? Especially at 85 degrees!
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Old 09-09-2013, 11:46 AM   #2
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Haven't used the furnace yet in my Interstate, but in the Bambi I had before, the smoke detector went off when it was new due to new paint inside. I was told the dealer should have run it for an hour or so before handing it over to me.
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:22 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MILATV View Post
Oder in the air) ......,,,,,,, of duct rape (100 mph tape)
Oder = odor
rape = tape

Dang Auto correct! SIRI should have caught that!
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Old 09-09-2013, 01:46 PM   #4
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When I got home with my shiny new AI the first thing that happened was the smoke alarm began signaling a dead backup battery. Signaling as in screaming bloody murder at a deafening volume level. Plugged in a new nine volt battery. This time it went for nearly an hour before it again went into alarm, but this time it was a different alarm condition. Several batteries and two smoke detectors later, I had become expert at removing batteries and pulling the wiring harness out of the ceiling to disconnect house power when finally got one that works as it should. According to my dealer they have been encountering a run on bad smoke detectors on several different RV brands. They were of the opinion all the various smoke detectors were made in the same factory, regardless of the brand name on the case.
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Old 09-09-2013, 03:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
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... Anyhow - appears to be another Quality Control issue at Airstream (anyone feel free to jump in and correct me)...
Agree that Airstream quality is not up to their reputation. I too have had to fix many issues. Dealer was some help but they are three hours away. They have been good about sending me new parts with a pre-paid return label so I can send them old part. Also saved me a lot of time by connecting me with their master electrician to track down a loose wire lug that was giving me fits.

Some of you may have seen this story in July about a couple who refused to take delivery of their $400,000 Winebago Class A coach due to lack of build quality.
http://www.outsideourbubble.com/winnebago-no-sale-of-special-ordered-coach-lack-of-build-quality
Seems build quality is a problem across the industry. Reminds me of US auto industry in the 70-80s.
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Old 09-10-2013, 02:48 AM   #6
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Furnace - 1st time use (a.k.a., the burning of the oil, and a Chinese fire drill)

There is a light coating of machine oil on the furnace internal parts and ductwork, leftover from the manufacturing process. When the furnace is fired for up the first time, this oil vaporizes and burns; and the fumes are blown into the inside of the Airstream and set off the smoke and CO2 alarms.

I suspect nearly every owner of a new Airstream (and probably SOBs) has had this experience. However, it appears you also had burning duct tape to ensure the alarms were triggered.

Our incident was on a Sunday morning at 7:00 AM, when I had awakened early and decided to play with the furnace and thermostat. It ended up being a Chinese fire drill, with us standing outside our new Bambi in our PJ's, fire extinguisher in hand, staring at our Bambi from about 20-30 feet away, looking for smoke and awaiting the seemingly impending flames and explosion. Along with the commotion, all the interior lights were on, and the smoke and CO2 alarms were both blaring, all of which woke up everyone in the campground.

After confirming that our brand new Airstream wasn't actually on fire or had a propane leak and was about to explode, my wife and I discussed the possible causes. Then, we recalled that during the final walk-through, the salesman had mentioned that before using the furnace for heating, we needed to run the furnace for 10-15 minutes with all doors and windows open and the FantasticFan on high, to burn off the oil residue.

In any case, welcome to the club…
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Old 09-10-2013, 05:10 AM   #7
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I had heard that I needed to run the furnace for about an hour on high with all the windows and door open and fantastic fans running on high. There was a smell of smoke similar to the oil burning off the exhaust manifold after an oil change.
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Old 09-10-2013, 06:15 AM   #8
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I had heard that I needed to run the furnace for about an hour on high with all the windows and door open and fantastic fans running on high. There was a smell of smoke similar to the oil burning off the exhaust manifold after an oil change.
No different than firing up your furnace at home for the first time each winter. Don't know about oil, but a furnace sitting there unused for months on end gathers dust on the heating element, and that dust will have to burn off.
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Old 09-10-2013, 07:45 AM   #9
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Wow - nice initiation to ownership, probably in chapter 1 of the 50 manuals I'm still working my way through.

Without this forum I'd have read them all twice by now - but with everyone here's prior experience it's been much more helpful just asking for help! (More fun too).

Thank you all for sharing, all is working fine now and my first two week outing is going fine.

Depart Inlaws driveway and head to Hurlburt Field, FLA on Wednesday. Staying at Topsail Hills SP in Destin for three days, then to Fort Wilderness at Disney for a Can-Am / Sea-Doo dealer convention for four days.

Some great referrals for Topsail on forum so looking forward to camping with hookups.

Thanks again to all.
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Old 09-10-2013, 08:58 AM   #10
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It sure seems like Airstream should do the burn off before delivery.
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:31 PM   #11
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It sure seems like Airstream should do the burn off before delivery.
Kind of depends WHEN you buy. In high summer, no one will think of it. In winter, they've probably already done it.
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:39 PM   #12
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I meant the factory, not the dealer.
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Old 09-11-2013, 05:59 AM   #13
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I meant the factory, not the dealer.
Hard to do that since they come off the factory floor with no propane in the tank. That's why I thought you meant the dealer.
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:22 AM   #14
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Good point. I didn't think about that.
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