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Old 09-21-2003, 03:38 PM   #1
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Thumbs down Furnace sets off smoke alarm

Note: This was also posted to Airstream's Applause & Groan forum (as a groan)...

On our 2nd road trip we went north and up into to the mountains to beat the Phoenix heat. Our first night at 7000+ feet in mid September got pretty cold (inside thermometer read 40 degrees in the morning). I decided we should try out the furnace for night number two and of course read the fine manual in preparation. Everything started off as it should, the furnace fan started and then the furnace lit. Within moments we began smelling the new furnace smell (very strongly..!) and seconds later the smoke alarm started shrieking. Of course we opened the door and vents and shut down the furnace (none of which contributed to a warm trailer). I'm naturally optomistic so I decided to try it again and set the thermostat for around 60 degrees and went to bed. Of course we woke up in the pitch black to a shrieking smoke alarm and went through the whole drill of clearing out the trailer. It was a lot colder too. On Monday morning I called our dealer and described our experience. They said it was the 'powder coating' burning off the furnace element and would require that I let the thing run for half an hour to an hour with the battery out of the smoke alarm and all the doors, vents and windows open. I haven't done it yet (but I will... ). My groan is, for the amount you pay for a new Airstream, the furnace should be prepped at the factory or the dealership on their propane!!!!!

Thanks for listening,
KL
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Old 09-21-2003, 03:52 PM   #2
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New furnaces tend to do that, also heat strips in the air conditioner if there is dust on them. Not a totally unusual situation. Furnace isn't run at factory since propane tanks are empty. Might be something your dealer might have considered, although I ran my furnace when I brought the trailer home to burn off any coatings on the exchanger.

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Old 09-21-2003, 04:13 PM   #3
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How long did you run it for?

Jack, Thanks for the reply. We only spent a moment on the furnace when we took delivery (Tucson Airzona in July). Every day is new learning experience. I'm curious as to how long you had to run it to get the coating off? I had a reply to this post on Airstream's Airstreamer forum from someone who did the burn off, but still has the problem (not a 22' CCD either). They disconnect the smoke alarm battery when using the furnace. Not something I really want to do.
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Old 09-21-2003, 10:20 PM   #4
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Ken,
Oh I think I ran the furnace about 5-10 minutes with the burner on and all was well after that. That initial burn did create some visible smoke in the trailer.

Your problem may also be related to the sensitivity of your smoke alarm. In my case I can't seem to be able to toast a slice of bread without setting off my alarm. Its become a morning ritual, we either put a womans shower cap over the alarm or I remove it from the ceiling. And if I forget and it goes off, our poor dog goes into a shaking fit...scared to death.

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Old 09-22-2003, 08:06 AM   #5
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Jack, we have the same problem with our smoke alarm. Even when we use the exaust fan over the stove and set the FF on high, it still goes off.

For some reason that high pitched noise really bothers our dogs too. They start shaking and hiding. Weird.
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Old 09-22-2003, 09:56 AM   #6
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Our smoke alarm goes off everytime we have the stove on, even if it is just boiling a pot of water for pasta.

We finally decided to remove the smoke alarm through the day, and only install it after we have finished cooking for the day. Anyone know if you can get less sensitive replacements?

Malcolm
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Old 09-22-2003, 01:00 PM   #7
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You would be surprised how well the shower cap works. Its pretty ugly and very obvious. Not something that we would forget to remove.

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Old 09-22-2003, 01:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
You would be surprised how well the shower cap works. Its pretty ugly and very obvious. Not something that we would forget to remove.
Great idea Jack!!!!
I have tons of those from the hotels I had to stay at for work. They're clear plastic, hope their cheap plastic works, so when they get dirty I can simply replace it.

Our dogs also shake like crazy with that noise and you don't want a husky shaking in your AS ...shedding increases considerably when under stress!
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Old 10-19-2003, 07:29 PM   #9
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Thumbs down AS tech support says up to 10 burns

Finally got a reply from Air Stream support (on AS hosted forums):

Quote:
I have personally called Atwood on this issue. There Field Tech. has told me it could take up to ten good burns for this not to happen anymore.
Hmmm... I personally think that is an unsatisfactory answer. More to follow.
Ken
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Old 10-19-2003, 08:00 PM   #10
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I saw that one....have you ran the unit a good 10x yet? Just wondering as my unit had a weird smell until it finally burned off whatever it needed to after the about 10x.

I would call Atwood as Airstream only installed the unit. Airstream will honor any warranty issues with the Atwood, but you have to understand that Airstream didn't build the Atwood furnace, HWH, Dometic Fridge, Zip Dee, Aquajet, Fantastic Fan, Moen faucets, etc. They just installed it and warranty it through the Airstream warranty.

In this case, I would deal with Atwood directly rather than play "telephone" through Airstream.....as a matter of fact, I think Atwood even makes the smoke detector too that Airstream installed....here is the Atwood website....

http://www.atwoodmobile.com/

Hope this helps...

BTW, I've dealt with Jim AKA 72_International on that site. He's a straight shooter. He's just as much an Airstream nut as you and I. I believe he owns a 72 International as well and if he gave you that answer, that is exactly what Atwood told him, in which case I'd call and deal with Atwood if after 10 good uses, it still does it.

Eric
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Old 10-19-2003, 09:28 PM   #11
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Still to hot here in AZ

Eric, With the temps still lingering in the 100's here I have not done any furnace burns (2 short ones at this point). I will give Atwood a call. Also, I hope Jim doesn't think I was angry at him. He's a great resource. Wasn't trying to shoot the messenger. Just was not happy with the message.
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Old 10-19-2003, 09:43 PM   #12
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I read the reply too. It was kind of a no answer - answer. I think it would be good practice for Atwood, AS and the dealer to crank them up for a 'test' run, and/or notify customers about what to expect (at dealer run-through). I get the feeling that the furnace (no matter how stable) had been installed but not tested. I guess that's cause and effect to other QC problems we've been worried about.
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Old 10-19-2003, 10:45 PM   #13
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I haven't had any smoke alarms with the furnace in my AS; perhaps the dealer burned it in before delivery. I do get smoke alarms when cooking, though, unless the stove vent fan is on.

I'll second the shower cap idea for the smoke alarm. I usually forget to open the stove vent, and I'm not about to go outside in the rain or barefooted when I discover it while cooking breakfast. I just pop the shower cap over the smoke alarm and all is well.
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Old 10-19-2003, 11:06 PM   #14
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Smoke alarm

Smoke alarm???? OH, is that the whistle....aka manual smoke detector....hanging on the string next to the furnace???
One of the advantages of having a vintage Argosy AS???

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Old 10-23-2003, 01:16 PM   #15
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Kudos to my dealer

Without my asking , my dealer ran the furnace overnight to prevent my having problems with the smoke alarm. He set the thermostat at 80 degrees and opened the windows to insure that the furnace would get good and hot. He apologized because one of the propane tanks did not show a full 100% on the monitor panel because of the propane used overnight.
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Old 10-23-2003, 03:54 PM   #16
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Regarding sensitivity of the smoke alarms. I do believe that there is a potentiometer in the unit itself that can be used to adjust it. Even on some of the digital ones you can 'program it' and set threshold levels. Not 100% postitive on this but worth something to investigate - usually the owner manual for the detector will have procedure on how to do it. And for anyone with the newer AS's it should be included (the manual) for the Detector. I have yet to run into any of those experiences with my '04. Depending on the location of the detector as well... with the new fangled twist the knob to light - just the attempt of lighting the stove may be what is triggering the detector as a portion of the gas will be exposed and circulated in the air prior to getting a successful ignition. On mine the location of the detector is on the curbside rear by the bed almost on the floor. On my 79 with the digital I bought I had it mounted above the fridge and would occassionally get it to trigger when lighting the stove for the first time...

Just some thoughts..........
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Old 01-31-2004, 07:43 PM   #17
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FYI - Two hour long burns fixed it

Just thought I should complete the circle on this topic (at least for us). When the weather got cold enough here in AZ, we went over to our RV storage lot early in the morning and ran the furnace for a good an hour (or until the battery started getting low). We did this twice. On our next outing (Christmas eve in the desert) all was well. Nice and toasty with no rude surprizes in the dark of night.
KL
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Old 01-31-2004, 11:57 PM   #18
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Our Newbee does the same

Just came in from putting our Safari-25 to 'bed' in it's new home (back yard). While we were familiarizing ourselves with with it we turned the furnace on to stay warm, it's been cold (maybe chilly!) in Dallas today. Point being the smoke detector went off as mentioned a number of times here. We went through the same fire-drill, windows, fan, heat off, etc. I'm glad to have read this post re: this break-in ritual we must endure. We can live with it now that I realize it's a common problem on new units. Sure would have appreciated some heads-up from the dealer or A/S. I think I'll still call Monday and fill someone's ear for a while.
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Old 02-01-2004, 08:08 AM   #19
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When I got the Safari in December, both the dealer and the factory (the unit went back for a test--see quality of the '04s thread for info), had already ran the furnace. I have also run it here in the drive for several hours on several different occasions. I haven't had any alarms either and so far have had flawless operations.
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Old 02-01-2004, 10:33 AM   #20
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My dealer opened all windows, ran the thermostat up, and ran the furnace all night before I picked up the trailer. No smoke alarms since. I really appreciated this thoughtfulness.
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