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Old 11-17-2003, 12:08 AM   #1
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Furnace Stinks

When we took the trailer out the previous weekend, it got cold enough to need the furnace. When the furnace was running, there was a slight odor. We did not like the "smell" of it and therefore cut the furnace off. This was the first time we had run the furnance in a year and previously had no problems.

The odor had a faint propone smell to it too. Scared me!

Any thoughts as to what the problem might be and what I should do?

I am going to have a propane leak detector and an CO monitor hard wired in the trailer in a few weeks...

WBCCI #5725
1994 34' Excella 1000
2000 Excursion Diesel 4x4 with Banks Stinger Plus Power Pack and Exhaust Brake
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Old 11-17-2003, 06:30 AM   #2
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This is only a thought, but it might be just normal operation.

It has been my observation that most home furnaces have a peculiar odor the first light of the season. I had always assumed that it was the rust and dust "burning off" after a almost a year if inactivity.

Good thought on the CO detecter. I would suggest that, after the detectors are operational, to light up the furnace for an hour or so with the door and windows open.

My guess is that the odor will disappear in just a few minutes, and, if problems persist, you will have time to address deficiences prior to your next camping trip.


"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

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Old 11-17-2003, 06:32 AM   #3
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Chris, are the inlet and exhaust vents fitted with fine screens to keep out mud-daubers, wasps, etc? If not, this could be the problem. If air flow is restricted, incomplete combustion will be the result, and carbon monoxide and/or propane may be present in the exhaust. Your floor is not gas tight, so you may smell the exhaust. You are right to be scared. I would not use the furnace until it has been pulled, dismantled, serviced and re-built. There is probably a fixed price for this at your local dealer ($90 when I had it done), if you do not feel qualified to do it yourself. I watched a technician do the service, so I could learn how to do it myself. You need a set of new gaskets, a wire brush, and a high pressure air line to blow out inaccessible parts. I have walked into a room where a mother and daughter were sitting in front of the TV on Christmas Eve. The furnace exhaust was leaking, and they were both dead. Nick.
Nick Crowhurst, Excella 25 1988, Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel. England in summer, USA in winter.
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Old 11-17-2003, 07:49 PM   #4
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Louisville , Kentucky
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Our 345 had some funky smells coming from the furnaces the first time we lit them up. The front smelled like hot dust (if that makes sense)...but the rear furnace smelled like something burning. Sure enough we had a very old hornet's nest in the exhaust.

I removed the furnace, cleaned everything out and it runs (and smell fine). RV furnaces are pretty simple systems to clean and repair but you need to know what your doing or you can unintentionally create a fire hazard. Your dealing with temp switchs, sail switches, propane connections, ignitors, combustion chambers, blowers and ductwork. Each is a simple system and pretty obvious to the mechanically inclined - but if your not familiar the $90 at the dealer is cheap peace of mind.
Steven Webster
1986 Airstream 345 Classic Motorhome
AIR 1760
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Old 11-18-2003, 08:29 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies. My 12 yr old son and I will be going out this weekend. We will look to see if there are any obvious issues (bugs, muddaubers, etc), but will take a small electric heater in case it turns cool.

I will have the dealer install the screens and clean the furnace out. I don't think the furnace needs to be replaced, but it is 10 years old...
WBCCI #5725
1994 34' Excella 1000
2000 Excursion Diesel 4x4 with Banks Stinger Plus Power Pack and Exhaust Brake
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Old 11-18-2003, 12:05 PM   #6
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a repair price

I had a furnace fixed with most parts last year and iy was less than 150 bucks as I well
The Silver Buffalo
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Old 01-24-2009, 06:25 AM   #7
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Leavenworth , Kansas
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The manual that came with our new suburban furnace said do not use a screen on the exhaust/intake. Why not put a screen on the exhaust/intake during the summer months when the mud daubers are active and remove it when it gets cold. No mud daubers are active when it is cold.
Beth and/or David

67 Sovereign, double bed, rear bath-"Moby"
2005 Dodge Ram 2500 Hemi, Quad Cab-"Ahab"
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Old 01-24-2009, 07:35 AM   #8
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I have noticed a mild odor on start up that goes away after a while. I'm none the worse for the wear and still vertical. I have both a CO and a propane detector as well as a smoke detector and a good size wall mounted fire extinguisher.

Sail on silver girl. Sail on by. Your time has come to shine.
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