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Old 12-15-2009, 12:50 PM   #1
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Palo Alto , California
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Broken Atwood Hydroflame Heater

California isn't the coldest state in the US, but it's been relatively cold last week, and my heater has been out. Does anyone have any advice or experience with similar problems? Here's are some notes:

- The header will cut on, blow air, attempt to ignite (click, click, click), fail, attempt to ignite again (click, click, click) and then cut off.
- All other propane appliances work fine - hot water heater, fridge, stove.
- I took it to the shop, they kept it for a couple days (thankfully I nice have friends we were able to stay with). They replaced something; the heater turned on at the shop and again last night; but this morning, we get the dreaded (click, click, click) again.
- I'm not sure if the failure to light is correlated with how cold it is, but I have a increasing suspicion it might be.

I'll probably call the shop again later today, but am curious if anybody has ideas on what the problem could be? Do you think I should try replacing the entire heater, or is it likely to be something else? I have an extended warranty which will save my wallet a bit, but most importantly, I'm hoping to stay warm over Christmas

Thanks,
Lex
2007 Airstream Safari
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Old 12-15-2009, 01:29 PM   #2
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Hi neighbor, and welcome to the forum!
I would think it must be a lack of gas or a poor igniter. The audible click does not necessarily mean it's throwing a spark, and if the pilot light is set too low it might not be able to light due to that.
There's pretty much nothing on a furnace that I want to fix myself other than filters and maybe a pilot light adjustment. Beyond that I would take it to a professional, because....


I hate it when I blow my Airstream up! It's soooo annoying!
Keep warm,
Rich the Viking
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Old 07-11-2010, 08:44 AM   #3
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Still not working...

I've taken in to the shop twice now to get this heater fixed, and annoyingly it always works fine in the shop. When I get it home though, it goes back to clicking, and won't light.

Does anyone have any advice on how I might be able to reproduce this for the mechanic so that he can fix it?

Thanks again!
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Old 07-11-2010, 09:45 AM   #4
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First, have the furnace overhauled.

That basically is removed, cleaned (LP gas orifice, burner, ignitor) have the sail switch, time delay relay and TCO checked for continuity, and have the board tested.

If your parts are all cleaned and the igniter tip is properly positioned, it should fire right up. I would have the tech fire it up and shut it down at least 10 times. If not, I would suspect a faulty board. I would replace it with a Dinosaur Electronics FAN 50 PLUS board if you have a newer Atwood unit.

That should end your intermittent ignition problems.
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:02 AM   #5
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It's best if you can do the work yourself but I know not everyone is skilled in LP gas heater repair. These heaters can be tricky to get working reliably. Gas flow, ignitor, pilot light, temp sensor, circuit board and sail switch. Add to that if you have rusted or burned through the flame chamber you could be sitting on a bomb.
Try and get the service manual and trouble shoot the problems. If that's not your thing, get a repair shop to fix it and garantee the work.
When the heater in our old 72 started acting up, I fixed it twice and then just replaced it with a new heater. Might be the best way to go.
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Old 07-13-2010, 08:36 AM   #6
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GQMMOM you do not mention how old your furnace is. If it is several years old it should be removed and throughly serviced and inspected for damage (rusted through holes) in the combustion chamber or firebox. It is essential that no leaks that can spread carbon monixide into the trailer are present. Seek out a qualified shop that can perform this service and inspection.
DLB435: Unless you are thoroughly versed in service you should not attempt to work on gas appliances yourself. If you do not know what you are doing you can do more harm than good which could result in serious damage, injury or even death. PLEASE SAFETY FIRST.
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Old 07-13-2010, 09:54 AM   #7
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This may sound stupid, but is there a gas shutoff outside of the trailer under the furnace that is not turned on? It sounds like it is not getting any LP to it. Follow the copper LP line back to the tank and look for a smashed line or a shutoff valve. Another thing to check is the gas pressure. If you have an old regulator on the trailer it may be set too low or not functioning correctly.
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Old 07-13-2010, 10:41 AM   #8
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I had ignition probs with my heater, did the removal, inspection, still the same. Did a propane pressure check, low pressure out of the regulater. Replaced it, problem solved. Have pressure checked by a professional service tech, don't mess with propane, unless you want to risk a "kaboom".
PS..All of my other appliances worked as well, so I guess the pressure is more critical for the heater. Lewster might chime in on this as well. He is very knowledgeable on this stuff.
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Old 07-13-2010, 03:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerdodger View Post
I had ignition probs with my heater, did the removal, inspection, still the same. Did a propane pressure check, low pressure out of the regulater. Replaced it, problem solved. Have pressure checked by a professional service tech, don't mess with propane, unless you want to risk a "kaboom".
PS..All of my other appliances worked as well, so I guess the pressure is more critical for the heater. Lewster might chime in on this as well. He is very knowledgeable on this stuff.
LP pressure at the furnace should be 11" water gauge with 50% of the LP appliances in the coach running. If you don't see 11", you need to have the regulator adjusted or replaced. A 35,000 BTU LP furnace will suck a lot of propane when operating.
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Old 07-14-2010, 04:14 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the fantastic advice! I'm taking it in this week and will definitely get them to do everything mentioned here.
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Old 07-25-2010, 02:14 PM   #11
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Maybe a different shop? There are a couple south of you in San Jose. I "inherited" Leale's when I bought my moho a couple of years ago & the work has been good, but sometimes they are backed up.
Also, note Wasagachris' note above: I replaced by CO monitor becasue it was at its 5 year lifetime. The new combo units that do smoke detection and CO, have a voice warning in addition to the usual noise, off-the-shelf at Home Depot.
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