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Old 04-21-2004, 04:16 PM   #1
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Do I need a new furnace?

just got off the phone w/ the local repair shop. I dropped off my furnace to have it checked out a few weeks ago. Only problem with it was that it was running rich...soot on the outside of the camper. I found a manual online for this Suburban NT-22, which is probably original equipment. It gave instructions to increase the amount of combustion air, by turning a screw...turned the screw, but the flame was still yellow. So, I figured I'd pull it out, and let the techs clean and adjust...or at least diagnose.

So the person on the phone can only tell me that the bill was 130 bucks for 2 hours of labor, and the slip has written on it "recommend buying a new furnace". um...ok. why? (no answer). so I'll have to try and nail down the tech when I go to pick it up, but it kind of make me wonder: is it fixed, or isn't it??? is there something "dangerous" about it...or does the tech just not like the color?

assuming that I really *should* buy a new furnace...where's a good place?
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Old 04-21-2004, 04:46 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck
just got off the phone w/ the local repair shop. I dropped off my furnace to have it checked out a few weeks ago. Only problem with it was that it was running rich...soot on the outside of the camper. I found a manual online for this Suburban NT-22, which is probably original equipment. It gave instructions to increase the amount of combustion air, by turning a screw...turned the screw, but the flame was still yellow. So, I figured I'd pull it out, and let the techs clean and adjust...or at least diagnose.

So the person on the phone can only tell me that the bill was 130 bucks for 2 hours of labor, and the slip has written on it "recommend buying a new furnace". um...ok. why? (no answer). so I'll have to try and nail down the tech when I go to pick it up, but it kind of make me wonder: is it fixed, or isn't it??? is there something "dangerous" about it...or does the tech just not like the color?

assuming that I really *should* buy a new furnace...where's a good place?
Chuck,
Here's some input quote from: Mark's RV t/s guide..
Quote:
Sooting - usually shows as a black streak above the exhaust vent.
Possible causes:
dirty burner - common with older models that use a cast iron burner
low gas pressure
intake or exhaust vent obstructed
bad fan motor
If I read this right..It would seem that your problems could be repairable..Not cheap but, cheaper than buying a new unit..Price range for a new unit are in the 400$ plus range. (What I saw available on google.com) wasn't the exact model but, the NT24 model seemed to more common.
Good luck..
ciao
53FC
http://www.marksrv.com/furnace_trouble_shooting.htm
http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/r...urban%20-%20Nt
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Old 04-21-2004, 04:55 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck
...Only problem with it was that it was running rich...soot on the outside of the camper. I found a manual online for this Suburban NT-22, which is probably original equipment. It gave instructions to increase the amount of combustion air, by turning a screw...turned the screw, but the flame was still yellow. So, I figured I'd pull it out, and let the techs clean and adjust...or at least diagnose.
Chuck,
You indicated the flame was still yellow after your adjustment(s). Yellow means not enough air. Assuming you were turning the screw the right direction, there is another possibility: too much gas. I do not believe Suburbans have regulators - they take gas from the supply bus at whatever pressure it is. Your LPG regulator controls bus pressure. If the bus pressure is too high, i.e. the regulator has drifted, it could cause a yellow flame.

I got the impression you removed the furnace, and took it somewhere. It may have checked out okay on the bench. The replacement note may have been their CYA statement due to the age of your unit.

If I did not misinterpret, and you still have furnace problems, you may want to check gas pressure at the regulator.

Hope this helps,
Tom
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Old 04-21-2004, 05:10 PM   #4
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thanks for the tips. I'll find out when I pick it up...hoping its just a "cya" statment.

you know, one thing I was thinking is that there was a screen on the intake/exhaust port. not very fine...maybe 1/8th inch mesh "hardware cloth"...so I wouldn't "think" that it would obstruct airflow at all, but Suburban's web site (and the manual) specifically say not to use one of these things. wondering if perhaps that was affecting it. (sort of branching off to another topic: how are you supposed to keep bugs out of the thing, if you can't put a screen on it?).

POs, who had it for 5 years, said that they had never used it. so Lord only knows when the last time it was serviced.

since I last ran it, the propane regulator broke, and I replaced it. all other appliances (stove, fridge, water heater, and catalytic heater) run fine, if that's any indication of pressure.

and the furnace itself purred like a kitten...no funny noises...heated up the trailer nicely. No CO on the detector.
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Old 04-21-2004, 05:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck
...since I last ran it, the propane regulator broke, and I replaced it. all other appliances (stove, fridge, water heater, and catalytic heater) run fine, if that's any indication of pressure...and the furnace itself purred like a kitten...No CO on the detector.
Chuck,

A couple of general interest notes:
Did you check the flame color on the fridge & water heater to make sure they were not yellow?

The "special" thing about RV furnaces is that they are sealed combustion units. Basically, all air required to service any flame (pilot/main burner) is taken/returned from the outside. You could just about spill gasoline inside your Airstream while the furnace is running and not worry about an explosion. So, if you ever get a CO reading when the only thing you are running is the furnace, its replacement time.

Tom
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Old 04-22-2004, 08:49 AM   #6
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Ok, I picked it up thismorning, and talked to the tech that did the work. He was only concerned because there is some rust/corrosion on the heating chamber, and...well, its 30 years old. so it "could" eventually leak CO . So, I'll just be careful to never run it w/o a CO detector also running.

It only needed to be cleaned and adjusted. that was the reason it was not getting enough air.

I haven't looked at the fridge flame, as there's been no need (its new; electronic ignition, etc...). The water heater seems to be fine.

Now I just need to find a "vent kit". the flange that holds the exhaust pipe in place against the wall was corroded badly.
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Old 04-22-2004, 04:07 PM   #7
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I hope the tech checked the crossover tube on the back of the furnace. They have a habbit of cracking and going bad. I replaced mine with a high quality heater hose from Napa auto parts.

Look up furnace in the search on this site and you'll find out a bunch of stuff about that furnace.
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Old 04-22-2004, 05:21 PM   #8
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thanks for the heads up...I will check on that. I searched back and found the previous discussions on that issue, and I'm sure mine is probably one of the recalled models. its an NT-22. The tech didn't mention anything. I didn't notice the rubber tube either...must be a bit burried (?). but its in the back of my truck as we speak, so I'll take a look.
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Old 04-22-2004, 06:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Safari Tim
I hope the tech checked the crossover tube on the back of the furnace. They have a habbit of cracking and going bad. I replaced mine with a high quality heater hose from Napa auto parts...
On my furnace, the tube in question is mounted more in the middle of the furnace.

I have to admit, I am not sure what the fuss was about. It appeared this tube, roughly three inches in diameter, and around two inches long, was located on the intake side of the furnace flame. If that is the case, a cracked tube would allow the furnace to suck air out of the interior of your Airstream as opposed to the design goal of the exterior. There would be no chance of CO poisoning.

Nonetheless, I did remedy the situation when I had my furnace out in case I was wrong.

Tom
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Old 04-22-2004, 09:31 PM   #10
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How did you remedy it?

I think any air leak from the outside intake through the furnace all the way to the exhaust could lead to CO problems in the trailer.

I replaced my hose and cleaned out all kinds of mudd dauber nests that were in the intake. I also had to make new brushes for the DC blower motor out of solder wick to get the motor working. So far it has been a good fix for the last couple of years.

Although we only go to full hook up places and use an electric space heater. I do test run the furnace every couple of months though. But still not sure I would trust it since it's so old. I do have CO and LP detectors hard wired just in case.
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Old 04-23-2004, 08:16 AM   #11
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On my furnace, the tube in question is mounted more in the middle of the furnace.

I have to admit, I am not sure what the fuss was about. It appeared this tube, roughly three inches in diameter, and around two inches long, was located on the intake side of the furnace flame. If that is the case, a cracked tube would allow the furnace to suck air out of the interior of your Airstream as opposed to the design goal of the exterior. There would be no chance of CO poisoning.
Tom
I was thinking exactly the same thing. that appears to be a "suction" line. any leak would cause air to be sucked IN to the furnace; not out to the trailer's interior.

anyway, I found the same short tube that you described, and it appears to be in good shape.

I won't be able to re-install it this weekend, though, because the repair place didn't order a "vent kit" that I need, and won't be able to until monday. I hope the part is still available, or all this is for not. I need what the manual refers to as a "vent cap adapter". The tech thought that this adapter, as well as the vent cover, come in this kit. The old one is so badly corroded, the screw holes are just "gone".
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Old 04-26-2004, 12:19 AM   #12
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Same problem - fixed

I just purchased a 71 Safari in Wisconsin and pulled it back to the west coast. The first few nights were very cold and I ran the furnace but it smelled bad. Got a headache. Bought a CO detector and it went off eventually so I stopped using it. I also found mine running "rich" and tried to adjust to no avail. Tried cleaning the screen on the outside, which was clogged up pretty bad, but it didn't help much.

So I took it to a small repair shop in Missoula and he looked it over. Great guy. Blew the furnace box out with compressed air for about 30 min, with a couple of long nozzles from both inside and outside. You should have seen all the CRAP coming out of the exhaust port - mostly black sooty dust. Tons of it. Apparently the screen clogs up, then it starts running rich and soots up on the inside - pretty soon it is all clogged up and can't burn cleanly. He resealed the plate with that putty tape (without a screen) and it now burns with a nice blue flame and works perfectly. No smell, no CO alarms. What a great guy. Would only take $30.

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Old 04-26-2004, 08:31 AM   #13
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Would only take $30.

-john
you got yourself a bargain, my friend...either that, or I've been "had".

For the cleaning and adjustment, I was charged 2 hrs of labor @ $65/hr...and had to wait 6 weeks to get the thing back.

AND I can't re-install it yet, because they didn't order the vent adapter that I need.
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Old 03-11-2005, 02:43 PM   #14
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The rest of the story?

Chuck -- Whatever happened with your furnace? Did you get it back in? Is it working? Are you going to replace it?

The Suburban NT-22 furnace in our '76 Safari is the only thing we know for sure is not working. Living in the land of $65/hr labor costs, I'm thinking I'd be better off to put the money towards a new furnace. What do you think?

-Jamie
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