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Old 12-30-2013, 09:39 PM   #1
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1992 25' Excella
Little Elm , Texas
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Propane heater works but started having loud noise when it first starts

Propane heater has always worked great. This year when we used it, a loud noise starts for the first 10 minutes when it first starts. Sort of a hight pitch screech. Does anyone know what this is? Thanks
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Old 12-30-2013, 10:41 PM   #2
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Most likely it is the bearings in the fan motor are going out. You can replace the motor, but it will not be cheap to do it. You may want to consider replacing the entire furnace which is now 21 years old as something else can crap out at any time.

I tried to lube the bearings on an 87 and it seemed to work but only for a short time and then the noise was back. Trust me, it is a PITA to remove the furnace and then take it apart enough to attempt to lube things, and then put it all back together and find that the squeel comes back in a few hours of operation.
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Old 12-31-2013, 08:09 AM   #3
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Thanks so much. Somehow I knew this was the issue; but hoped it wasn't.
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Old 12-31-2013, 08:23 AM   #4
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Any suggestions on what type of furnace I want to make sure that it is propane only and does not require electricity.
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Old 12-31-2013, 08:43 AM   #5
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I just replaced the motor on our furnace for the same reason. It was a PITA to get it in and out (there's only barely enough room), but the rest of the furnace looked to be in good shape, not rusting out, so I was glad I just did the motor.

Also, the motor was $120 or something; a new furnace is much more than that.

As for propane-only "furnaces" the only thing I can think of are catalytic heaters which shouldn't be used without ventilation, contribute to humidity, and only heat one area (right in front of them).
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Old 12-31-2013, 05:21 PM   #6
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Thanks
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:15 AM   #7
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I had a similar squeal coming from my Atwood Furnace on our '97 Excella. It just started to make the noise as we were returning home from a trip last week. After reading above, I decided to tackle the problem yesterday. First, I Googled it and came up with this incredible find on You-Tube: All Seasons Mobile RV Repair - Atwood furnace motor removal - YouTube
It takes this guy only about 8 minutes to pull the motor from the unit. I copied what he did, but first I took several pics so I could get the wires back exactly right. It took me about 20 minutes to pull the motor, following his steps.

With the motor out, I first decided to check out my own motor instead of just rushing off and buying a new one. I started by "unbending" the little metal tabs which hold down the endcap of the motor, electrical connection end first. Then with a small flat screwdriver I carefully removed the electrical connection endcap. It came off fairly easy. Inside, the cap I could see the motor did not have a roller bearing, but only a steel bushing and all lubricant was gone. I carefully relubed the bushing with wheel bearing grease. I used grease because I read that someone had "oiled" his but the squeak came back. Then I reassembled the endcap onto the motor housing. I was careful to gently move the cap onto the armature until the brushes came up against the armature then I used an ice pick to reach in and gently move each brush onto the armature, then gently pressed the endcap into it's final position, then bent the metal tabs to hold it in place. Then I did the other end of the motor. It was a bit easier because there were no brushes. Be sure to somehow mark the endcap and the motor body so you can relocate the endcap to it's exact former position upon reassembly.
The whole procedure took about 20 minutes.

Tolerances between the bushing and the shaft were fairly tight so no slop. My brushes seem to have about half of their length remaining so they should last for years.

I installed the now lubed motor back in the furnace in about 15 minutes, and turned it on and let it run for about 20 minutes. Aaaah success! Nice and quiet.
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:37 AM   #8
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Bob, thanks so much for outlining all the steps and tricks. I really appreciate it.
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Old 01-04-2014, 12:19 PM   #9
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My assumption was that your furnace was a Suburban which comes out from the inside making it much more difficult to service than the Atwood shown in Bob's You Tube video. If you have a Suburban with internal only service, the removal and replacement of the motor is a much, much more involved process.

Lets hope you have an external service furnace.
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Old 01-04-2014, 03:28 PM   #10
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I carried out this procedure on my Suburban furnace a few years ago, by oiling the felt bushes in the motor, and documented it here:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f427...ace-60957.html

Nick.
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Old 01-04-2014, 04:28 PM   #11
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Got my furnace out yesterday for the same reason. But, it ran on the bench noiselessly. Much head scratching. Then noticed where the two dimples on the top of the heat exchanger cover were worn bright and shiny. Hmmm.

Stuck head in outer box and found corresponding wear. I covered the dimples with some exhaust gasket material held in place by high temp RTV. Reinstalled today and runs nice and quiet.

Did I really fix it? Time will tell. But, in my case anyway, the big screech wasn't the motor.

Mike
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