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Old 02-03-2016, 03:39 PM   #1
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Heat pump no longer heating air?? Help!

Hi everyone,
I've been following the forums for the past 6 months or so but haven't posted much but thanks for the great forum and information!
I have a 2015 International Signature 25 purchased new in September and departed on my current trip 10/15(~4 months). I have the Dometic Penguin II AC with heat pump which worked flawlessly until a few days ago when I noticed the heat pump was constantly running but the air felt cold and it couldn't keep the interior temperature warm at all, it had dropped to about 43 at night here in LA with a few days only getting into the mid 50s, previously this was fine for the heat pump but I've since had to rely only on the furnace for heat. While it's annoying to burn propane when my new trailer should be in proper working order, my bigger concern is making sure I have AC for the summer as I'm in the San Fernando Valley and it can get warm here in the summer.
I've thoroughly tested both the heat pump and AC, neither works properly providing only air within a few degrees of the interior temperature. With the thermostat AND fan set to auto, I've set the thermostat temp to 80, the compressor comes on then 15 seconds later the fan kicks in, normal per Dometic, but the air coming out is not heated at all, similarly when I set the temp to 60 to force the AC on, the fan first comes on then the compressor about 15 seconds later, normal per Dometic, but the air is the same temperature coming out, no cooling provided.
I checked the return intake registers and the filters were dirty but not to the point where air would not pass through, I washed them in warm soapy water, thoroughly dried them and put them back in but no change in heating/cooling provided and the internal components I could see with the return register covers removed did not look very dirty. I was hoping there's another filter but per Colonial where I purchased, those are the only filters.
I found a guide on troubleshooting via the CCC II, with the thermostat Off, hold the "Program","Fan", and "F/C" buttons simultaneously, then use the up/down to test various components, verify dip switch settings etc and everything appears to be ok so now I'm stumped, any suggestions on next steps?
I have not yet climbed on the roof to check the unit and with ducted air, there's not too much you can do from inside the trailer so obviously that's my next step but nothing else happened from when AC/HP worked, I've been in the same location for a month so I haven't moved the trailer, we did get some rain and lots of wind right around when I noticed I was cold but I suspect that's just a coincidence. Colonial suggests I may have lost all my refrigerant and while I can understand the logic, it seems unlikely to me since I've not been traveling or putting any stress on the unit aside from regular use while stationary. I am still under warranty but it's difficult for me to take the trailer to a dealer right now as this where I'm currently living and I'm stopped here in LA because my best friend, Gizmo (3 legged boxer mix) is sick and getting regular chemo so I don't want to make any big changes right now, plus i have to cook for him regularly since he has special dietary needs so this situation kinda sucks but I have some time to figure things out.
I've read the other similar threads but haven't found any answers, I noticed some people disconnected power and reconnected and everything worked, I tried that by disconnecting power for 10-15 mins with no luck, then just tried flipping the breaker off but no luck again.

So, I apologize for the lengthy post but I'm trying to describe everything I can think of. I did recently removed the plastic shroud for the Fantastic fan in the bedroom to get an idea of where some wiring is (before I noticed any hp/AC issues) and I know there's thermostat wires up there but I didn't touch a thing, just took pics and replaced the cover.

Any help/suggestions are much appreciated as I'd really like to fix this on my own, too bad the dealer or my insurance can't provide me with a rental Airstream while it's being repaired, that would be convenient.

Looking forward to all you brilliant minds getting back to me with some ideas!
Thanks everyone!

Zach/Gizmo
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Old 02-03-2016, 06:29 PM   #2
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If you are not getting the proper performance from either your A/C or heat pump, there is a very good chance that you have experienced a leak in your system.

Have your unit checked by a competent professional. If you are within your Dometic 2year warranty, be certain they they are also an authorized Dometic service center as well.

A simple amp draw test on the compressor's 120 VAC wires will provide definitive proof.


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Old 02-03-2016, 06:58 PM   #3
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I thought I read a post on this forum something to the effect that if the cold temp gets below a certain degree the heat pump will not heat, that could be the issue.
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:09 PM   #4
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My heat pump seems to work to about 35 degrees and then only blows out cool air.
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:18 PM   #5
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"I've thoroughly tested both the heat pump and AC, neither works properly providing only air within a few degrees of the interior temperature."

If neither the heat pump or A/C are working as the OP stated in his post, There is a very strong probability that he has a refrigerant leak and the unit must be replaced.
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:27 PM   #6
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That rather wretched thermostat can be programmed to automatically shift from heatpump to furnace when it gets too cold for the heatpump to work. Getting it right? - well read the instructions and pray. My newer heatpump works into the high 30's - older one was ineffective below 40-45 degrees.

I hesitate to even suggest this but - have you cleaned out the filters lately? It's a good idea to do it once a month but it's easy to let it slip. There are dozens of little peculiarities about RV's and Airstreams in particular that you don't know as a newbie - so if you are going "what filters" you're just where I was not that many years ago. (Two small plastic screens that pull out of the A/C. Vacuum them, wash, rinse, dry and reinsert - voila!)

Just a few weeks ago, there was a thread about bathroom fans - and a newbie who had been using his for several weeks suddenly learned that you push UP on the handle to open the fan before turning it on. He'd been running the fan with the lid down and wondered why it did such a poor job of clearing the steam out of his shower.!)

I - the experienced owner - bought a slightly used Eddie Bauer and didn't realize that the stove vent was still packed for shipping.... I turned on the fan and spit styrofoam all over the place. Made a noise like a cat with it's tail in the fan!

Paula
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:43 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone. As lewster suggested, i probably have a refrigerant leak. I'll do a current draw test in the compressor, I assume it's only accessible from the roof?
Not a big deal but I'll have to find a decent ladder. At least I'll get a chance to inspect the roof and see how much room I have to upgrade my solar.
I've owned many window AC units but never experienced a refrigerant leak, it still seems odd to me that my unit would lose all refrigerant while stationary and being used regularly but it sounds like AS cheaper out on the AC/HP units, this would be surprising if I hadn't already learned they use a single stage charger EVEN with the solar package, pretty lame and unacceptable considering what these trailers cost.

And yes I'm aware that in auto it will switch from HP to furnace around 38 degrees, my unit did that flawlessly until this week.

Any guesses on how long a dealer will need to keep my trailer to diagnose and replace the entire AC/HP unit? It's really a headache to find somewhere else to stay for however long but I'm definitely going to make sure I leverage my warranty, still have 20 months left on it.

I'll update everyone once I get in touch with Airstream LA, missed their call back this morning and they were impossible to get in touch with all day, hopefully they're competent.

Thanks again!
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:45 PM   #8
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Hey Paula, cleaning the filters was the first thing I tried. They were dirty but not so much to prevent air padding through, I was hoping it was a filter issue as well.
Ugh
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Old 02-03-2016, 09:15 PM   #9
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If you have access to a clamp on ammeter, you could easily measure the current flow at the circuit breaker for the AC in the main box. No need to climb onto the roof.
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Old 02-03-2016, 09:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idroba View Post
If you have access to a clamp on ammeter, you could easily measure the current flow at the circuit breaker for the AC in the main box. No need to climb onto the roof.
Ahhh, but you will also have the amperage draw for the blower motor included into that breaker's circuit. Best to do it on the roof to isolate the compressor draw. For Dometic units, it is usually the black wire going from the relay board into the compressor.
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Old 02-04-2016, 01:06 AM   #11
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Hmm. As suspected, I figured I wouldn't be so lucky as to be able to isolate the compressor and get the current draw without getting on the roof.
Thanks for the info!
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Old 02-04-2016, 09:35 AM   #12
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But the fan draw is constant, and could be measured first at the panel by setting the AC on Fan only, then recording the measurement. Then put the unit in heat or cool and measure the current. Subtract the fan current and you have the compressor current.

Anything to keep from getting on the roof and into the unit is good.... grin.
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Old 02-04-2016, 11:06 AM   #13
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True! When I'm on a client's clock, it's just much easier ( and quicker) for me to hop on the roof to check it. That also gives me an opportunity to check other areas of the system. :-))


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Old 02-04-2016, 01:00 PM   #14
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Hey Zach -- Is a service call out of the question? Must be a dealer/service center within reach. Once diagnosed and recorded, you could make your way there at your convenience without wasting time while they order parts. Can't imagine Angelinos will get uncomfortable for a couple of months.
Good luck. I'll be interested to hear its conclusion. We gave up on our heat pump some time ago (besides, they're noisy).
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