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Old 11-18-2012, 11:57 AM   #1
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Furnace fumes from new furnace

I've been testing the furnace on my 2012 27"' International. The fumes from the furnace vents in the trailer are setting off the smoke alarm, plus it smells pretty bad. Is this normal? I relaize some new appliances, like a furnace, require a bit of break in to burn off the coatings etc. How long should this process take and is there anything I can do to hasten it along? We're taking our maiden voyage thanksgiving weekend and I'd like to have some reliable heat.
Happy Thanksgiving
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Old 11-18-2012, 12:04 PM   #2
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I've been testing the furnace on my 2012 27"' International. The fumes from the furnace vents in the trailer are setting off the smoke alarm, plus it smells pretty bad. Is this normal? I relaize some new appliances, like a furnace, require a bit of break in to burn off the coatings etc. How long should this process take and is there anything I can do to hasten it along? We're taking our maiden voyage thanksgiving weekend and I'd like to have some reliable heat.
Happy Thanksgiving
The burn in time for a furnace should not take more than 10 or 15 minutes.

Are you smelling burnt oil or LPG gas (rotten egg)?

Andy
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Old 11-18-2012, 12:07 PM   #3
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neither of those smells, more like burnt paint or some type of coating burning
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Old 11-18-2012, 12:10 PM   #4
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neither of those smells, more like burnt paint or some type of coating burning
As a safety measure, I would suggest you pull the furnace, and examine the exterior of the combustion chamber.

If nothing is found, then I would also suggest that the burner be removed to see if some strange object may have gotten into it.

Andy
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Old 11-18-2012, 12:49 PM   #5
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I noticed that the plastic hoses used for ducts emit a "sour" plastic smell. It lasted in mine for the first few hours of run time.
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Old 11-18-2012, 01:08 PM   #6
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Mine gave off first a burning smell for maybe 45 minutes or so, then a new smell (probably ducting) for much longer than that. I never had it set off any detectors however.

If it was me and clearly abnormal, I'd call Attwood and get appt. with service tech under warranty. On my latest class C motorhome, I found Attwood very responsive to the inaccurate oven thermostat (replaced it promptly).

But if you think it is oils and dust burning off the new unit and basically harmless, open the windows, supervise it, and run it continuously for an hour or two and see if it dissipates.
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Old 11-18-2012, 01:31 PM   #7
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Check my "Death by Atwood" thread.
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Old 11-18-2012, 02:02 PM   #8
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Our trailer smelled bad for a couple of years when closed up for a while. All sorts of things offgas—fiberboard, foam, etc. The heat from the furnace may increase the odors.

Any propane furnace seems to smell when not used for a while—a burning smell, but it only lasts for a short time. It may be dust collecting on the burners.

But setting off the smoke alarm? Not good. Are you sure it was the smoke alarm and not the CO alarm? Run it with the windows open and fans running when you test it. If it doesn't smell like propane, that's very good, but still you have to find out what the problem is. A poorly adjusted furnace will smell like unburned fuel rather than the odorant used in propane, but it should only be noticed outside. The burner is isolated from the interior by a heat exchanger, but if the seals are bad or the heat exchanger leaks, you can get fumes inside. If it is only coming from the furnace registers, that tells you something—the furnace is the source. Since the workers at Airstream have a habit of leaving stuff in strange places, they may have left something in a duct and you may have to take them apart to check. There's a thread where someone had several feet of plastic sheeting come out of his grey water tank. No responsible person would stuff that into a tank because he was too lazy to put it in the trash, but that guy may have installed your ductwork. Try to tell if the airflow is restricted from any of the registers—the ones closest to the furnace blow the most, but there's a fairly healthy outflow from the furthest away. If very little air comes through any of them, that's a clue.

I don't know where you plan to go for Thanksgiving, but Sebastopol isn't all that cold right now (we passed through last week) and an electric catalytic heater will keep you fairly warm unless it goes below 40˚ at night. We've used a Lasko heater for years. It only cost about $25 on Amazon, but they are available at lots of hardware stores for a bit more. Below freezing, you need the furnace at night.

When you want to take your new trailer out on its maiden trip, this can be very frustrating. I hope you find an easy answer soon. Let is know how it works out.

Gene
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:19 PM   #9
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The OP failed to mention what brand furnace he had, but sitting in my friend's new coach with an Atwood furnace and getting dizzy from the fumes sure seemed to be a tip-off that the furnace needs replacing and a factory re-call is in order.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:36 PM   #10
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Mine did the same thing but I set at 80 and let it run. Went to get something to eat and it has worked like a dream ever since.
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:56 AM   #11
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Survival of the fittest—if the furnace makes you sick, outsmart it and walk away for a while, and maybe you'll be the survivor. They shouldn't make these things with so much stuff that has to burn off. Of course, it is cheaper to use materials that do offgas for a while. The free market at work.

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Old 11-19-2012, 10:19 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by rosser7 View Post
I've been testing the furnace on my 2012 27"' International. The fumes from the furnace vents in the trailer are setting off the smoke alarm, plus it smells pretty bad. Is this normal?
They all do do this to some degree but shouldn't set off the smoke alarm. The smell is overpowering when the furnace and ductwork are new, but it's hard to say without being there whether or not something else is wrong too.

Quote:
I relaize some new appliances, like a furnace, require a bit of break in to burn off the coatings etc. How long should this process take and is there anything I can do to hasten it along? We're taking our maiden voyage thanksgiving weekend and I'd like to have some reliable heat.
Happy Thanksgiving
When mine was new, I ran it overnight with the thermostat at 90 degrees and some windows open so it would run continuously.
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:58 AM   #13
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Question May not apply to your 2012....but.

rosser7,

Our Classic had a mud-dauber nest in the exhaust tube, stunk like crazy with poor heat.

Bob
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:54 AM   #14
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The short term answer, to save your trip, should be some form of space heater. All the box stores have them. They are cheap, very quiet and give off a lot of heat. This might save your Thanksgiving trip until you get the real situation solved.
Joe G
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