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Old 07-28-2012, 11:11 PM   #1
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2012 25' International
Walnut Hill , Florida
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 4
Air Conditioner Exhaust Fumes


We bought a new 25' International Signature (2012) and have lived in it for the past 4 months in the Mohave Desert (extreme heat) while training Marines in 29 Palms, CA. We are experiencing some type of exhaust fumes either coming from our air condition unit or the fumes are coming from the material (glue, formaldehyde, etc.) that is used to build the Airstream as it heats up during the day. We are running total electric. Has anyone experience this kind of problem? We are concern about our health. Also, how can we keep our Airstream cool during the hot desert summer days? Any suggestion such as a recommended portable AC unit? Thanks,

Tim and Glenda

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Old 07-28-2012, 11:30 PM   #2
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It's not at all unusual to have cooling problems with a metal skinned trailer with shallow walls.

Any afternoon shade whatsoever is worth any trouble.

Painting the roof with an anti-reflective paint is a good idea. Streamline did this at the factory . . my father painted the roof on his Silver Streak; and search for threads on this subject; several good discussions hereabouts.

A second air conditioner is pretty well a requirement in high heat. Are any of the roof vents supplied with power lines suitable for a roof A/C (would be the question)?

Send a PM to Andy/INLAND RV as he's an old experienced hand and in your neighborhood (SoCal) with a willingness to advise and help. And he has some truly ancient [wise] shop personnel (from the days when Airstream still built trailers in South El Monte or thereabouts.)

As to fumes: what they smell like or when they occur is key. An old A/C about to burn out has an ozone-like odor, for example.

I'd start by going around and checking how hot may be any electrical junctions, cords, etc that I can safely touch. Use an infra-red thermometer to check.

Your duty for the trailer is strong to severe (constant high heat).

And . . have a son in USMC. VMGR-152. Currently back from Afghanistan at Futenma in Okinawa. Several members here current and past (may have a thread for service members IIRC). Best to you and yours.


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Old 07-28-2012, 11:58 PM   #3
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2006 22' International CCD
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You are likely sensitive to off-gassing from the various glues and chemicals Airstreams (and everything else) is made of. I don't know if Airstream has moved to a low VOC (volatile organic compounds) strategy or not... but in a small enclosed space it is difficult to get good air quality with even low VOC levels.

As much as you can, when it cools off at night - open your windows and use the fan, even the stove exhaust fan - to get the air moving. Rotate the matress or even take it outside on a nice day to air out. Foams are bad for gassing.

For extra cooling - look at shades made of reflective material like car-windshield shades. You can get the material and make your own custom ones, or you'll find some smaller sizes at RB stores. All that glass looks groovy... but without awnings all the way around it is hot, hot, hot.

Your roof should already be painted white... and with it being so new I don't know that redoing will affect it much. For portable A/C... the best ones will have a dual-vent tube setup that you can vent to a window... the issue will be sealing it so you aren't trying to A/C the desert... The prices on these have come way down in recent years...
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Old 07-29-2012, 02:30 AM   #4
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Check to see if you have heat radiating from the roof vents and/or windows. Assuming you do, you may wish to install insulation in your FantasticFan and/or non-powered-vents and windows.

An effective way to do this is to purchase exterior "sheathing" used in home construction, and cut it to fit in vent and window openings. This is just for temporary use in the extreme heat, and it probably won't be very pretty from a cosmetic standpoint; but it will help.

If you are unfamiliar, sheathing is usually purchased as a 4x8 foot sheet of styrofoam (or fiberglass) that has very thin aluminum foil backing on one side. It's the white or pink sheets that are often used as underlayment for stucco or other exterior walls. Several thicknesses are available, but get 3/4-inch, or 1-inch, if you can find it.

There are several manufacturers, but you probably aren't interested in long-term quality; so buy the cheapest available, as you'll be cutting it up and probably throwing it away later. By the way, if you get the styrofoam sheets, be prepared to clean up a lot of cutting debris. After cutting the panels, clear packing tape over the rough edges will reduce the amount of shedding; if you intend to remove and replace the cut panels frequently.

A 4x8 sheet should be around $10 at Home Depot or Lowes; and you'll have to estimate how much you'll need, but I would think one sheet might be enough. It's usually in the back of the lumber section, near the plywood, hardboard, miscellaneous panels, etc. You can cut it with a very sharp, straight bladed knife. Also, a serrated blade will work, but may produce more cutting debris.

As for the fumes, if it smells like formaldehyde, it could be toilet deodorant. Leaving the bathroom vent open, but turned OFF, may help reduce this smell.

In any case, the air in a small enclosed space like your Airstream can get stale in a short period of time. In cooler weather, you would probably have windows and/or vents open. However, in extreme heat, I'd guess you have everything closed up tight as a drum. Despite the heat, you should leave a couple of windows open a crack to allow some fresh air in.
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Old 07-29-2012, 04:07 AM   #5
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If you are using a generator be sure the exhaust is pointed away. Please be sure all of yor detectors, smoke, carb mon and LPG are working properly. As others have said, crack a window or vent to let some fresh air in. RV Aircon only circulate air they do not exchange it for fresh air. Leaving an outside source open may help clear the problem. Thanks for your service. Jim
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Old 07-29-2012, 06:00 AM   #6
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2011 25' FB Flying Cloud
Peculiar , Missouri
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Welcome to the Forum, and Good Luck with your new trailer. By your description it seems like you still have "that new trailer smell". When we bought ours I had told the dealer I wanted the trailer aired out before I picked it up (almost a month). Two years later our trailer still smells new, though not as bad.

I thought Airstream was building 'greener' trailers that also included less odor lingering materials. I believe the heat (and sun) makes it worse by 'baking' everything, kind of like the smell field gear has when it gets warmed up. I would try to keep the vents and fans in your shower and head open, this will help draw out the odors and not really allow too much cool air to escape. At night it may also help turning on one (or both) Fantastic Fans with the vents slightly cracked open. Unfortunately I think only time, use, cooler weather and less direct sun exposure will help.

Are you in the desert permanently or training only?

Semper Fi

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Old 07-29-2012, 07:38 AM   #7
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1993 21' Sovereign
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I deal with new Airstreams daily, and "green" does not mean "outgas and fume free". The 2013 models are supposed to be even better, as far as fumes, but they still have "that new trailer smell".
Now, one remedy for it is simple and cheap. Get 3 boxes of baking soda, open them, and place them where they won't get kicked over or stepped on. One in the magazine rack, one in the bedroom, near the bed, and one in the bathroom, say, behind the toilet. These will help absorb and reduce the odors. Change them out once a month. They only cost about 50 cents a box, so $1.50 a month is cheap odor control.
Airstream already paints the roof panels white, so you really can't improve on that. Any kind of shade will help, mybe one of those portable carport things can be used to help. Just make sure it won't blow away in the wind, and that it will not touch the trailer. The touching part is not for heat transfer, but in case it rubs against the aluminum. These carports are relatively inexpensive, and some of them can be taken down and folded up to haul away with you.
And of course, if any Marine gets out of line, his punishment can be standing outside your trailer waving a big fan at it.
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.
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Old 08-13-2012, 12:11 PM   #8
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Fumes and Whatnot...

The baking soda trick is really neat, and one could supplement that with several mesh bags (or discarded nylon hose) filled with ACTIVATED CHARCOAL... you can obtain it anywhere they sell tropical fish/aquariums, etc..

We use this trick in the fridge and freezer when we store the MH for more than a few days.... but the activated charcoal works REALLY WELL for just about any stinky problem.

GOOD LUCK, God Bless..!!!

Slick and Kathy
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Old 08-13-2012, 02:05 PM   #9
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I had years of experience with desert heat and '05 Airstream.

First any shade you can get is big plus. Awning a plus but desert winds may prevent use. Try to orient trailer so afternoon sun exposure is concentrated on one end or another.

I bought Lazy Daze class C which is not better than the Airstream in heat.

I also suggest using reflectex on the outside of the windows. Big benefit over inside. I use black Velcro to secure the reflectex cut to size for the windows. Keeps inside of window entirely cool. This would also be a good strategy on skylight, and roof vents (although a different product may be needed). The black velcro is is almost invisible on the black tinted windows, and holds the reflectex nicely. Its easy to remove and install the reflextex shades.

Start the AC early in morning and try to get unit really cool going into mid day. Close off bathroom or any other space you can temporarily abandon in the worst part of the day.

And if the plan is to be located in the desert for extended time, yes a second air conditioner would be a worthwhile consideration.

We have desert cabin very near the base. The summers are very hot.
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Old 08-20-2012, 12:29 AM   #10
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Sgm Adams, do you have an update? Did any of these suggestions help?

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