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Old 04-21-2004, 03:16 PM   #1
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Do I need a new furnace?

just got off the phone w/ the local repair shop. I dropped off my furnace to have it checked out a few weeks ago. Only problem with it was that it was running rich...soot on the outside of the camper. I found a manual online for this Suburban NT-22, which is probably original equipment. It gave instructions to increase the amount of combustion air, by turning a screw...turned the screw, but the flame was still yellow. So, I figured I'd pull it out, and let the techs clean and adjust...or at least diagnose.

So the person on the phone can only tell me that the bill was 130 bucks for 2 hours of labor, and the slip has written on it "recommend buying a new furnace". um...ok. why? (no answer). so I'll have to try and nail down the tech when I go to pick it up, but it kind of make me wonder: is it fixed, or isn't it??? is there something "dangerous" about it...or does the tech just not like the color?

assuming that I really *should* buy a new furnace...where's a good place?
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Old 04-21-2004, 03:46 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck
just got off the phone w/ the local repair shop. I dropped off my furnace to have it checked out a few weeks ago. Only problem with it was that it was running rich...soot on the outside of the camper. I found a manual online for this Suburban NT-22, which is probably original equipment. It gave instructions to increase the amount of combustion air, by turning a screw...turned the screw, but the flame was still yellow. So, I figured I'd pull it out, and let the techs clean and adjust...or at least diagnose.

So the person on the phone can only tell me that the bill was 130 bucks for 2 hours of labor, and the slip has written on it "recommend buying a new furnace". um...ok. why? (no answer). so I'll have to try and nail down the tech when I go to pick it up, but it kind of make me wonder: is it fixed, or isn't it??? is there something "dangerous" about it...or does the tech just not like the color?

assuming that I really *should* buy a new furnace...where's a good place?
Chuck,
Here's some input quote from: Mark's RV t/s guide..
Quote:
Sooting - usually shows as a black streak above the exhaust vent.
Possible causes:
dirty burner - common with older models that use a cast iron burner
low gas pressure
intake or exhaust vent obstructed
bad fan motor
If I read this right..It would seem that your problems could be repairable..Not cheap but, cheaper than buying a new unit..Price range for a new unit are in the 400$ plus range. (What I saw available on google.com) wasn't the exact model but, the NT24 model seemed to more common.
Good luck..
ciao
53FC
http://www.marksrv.com/furnace_trouble_shooting.htm
http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/r...urban%20-%20Nt
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Old 04-21-2004, 03:55 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck
...Only problem with it was that it was running rich...soot on the outside of the camper. I found a manual online for this Suburban NT-22, which is probably original equipment. It gave instructions to increase the amount of combustion air, by turning a screw...turned the screw, but the flame was still yellow. So, I figured I'd pull it out, and let the techs clean and adjust...or at least diagnose.
Chuck,
You indicated the flame was still yellow after your adjustment(s). Yellow means not enough air. Assuming you were turning the screw the right direction, there is another possibility: too much gas. I do not believe Suburbans have regulators - they take gas from the supply bus at whatever pressure it is. Your LPG regulator controls bus pressure. If the bus pressure is too high, i.e. the regulator has drifted, it could cause a yellow flame.

I got the impression you removed the furnace, and took it somewhere. It may have checked out okay on the bench. The replacement note may have been their CYA statement due to the age of your unit.

If I did not misinterpret, and you still have furnace problems, you may want to check gas pressure at the regulator.

Hope this helps,
Tom
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Old 04-21-2004, 04:10 PM   #4
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thanks for the tips. I'll find out when I pick it up...hoping its just a "cya" statment.

you know, one thing I was thinking is that there was a screen on the intake/exhaust port. not very fine...maybe 1/8th inch mesh "hardware cloth"...so I wouldn't "think" that it would obstruct airflow at all, but Suburban's web site (and the manual) specifically say not to use one of these things. wondering if perhaps that was affecting it. (sort of branching off to another topic: how are you supposed to keep bugs out of the thing, if you can't put a screen on it?).

POs, who had it for 5 years, said that they had never used it. so Lord only knows when the last time it was serviced.

since I last ran it, the propane regulator broke, and I replaced it. all other appliances (stove, fridge, water heater, and catalytic heater) run fine, if that's any indication of pressure.

and the furnace itself purred like a kitten...no funny noises...heated up the trailer nicely. No CO on the detector.
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Old 04-21-2004, 04:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck
...since I last ran it, the propane regulator broke, and I replaced it. all other appliances (stove, fridge, water heater, and catalytic heater) run fine, if that's any indication of pressure...and the furnace itself purred like a kitten...No CO on the detector.
Chuck,

A couple of general interest notes:
Did you check the flame color on the fridge & water heater to make sure they were not yellow?

The "special" thing about RV furnaces is that they are sealed combustion units. Basically, all air required to service any flame (pilot/main burner) is taken/returned from the outside. You could just about spill gasoline inside your Airstream while the furnace is running and not worry about an explosion. So, if you ever get a CO reading when the only thing you are running is the furnace, its replacement time.

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Old 04-22-2004, 07:49 AM   #6
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Ok, I picked it up thismorning, and talked to the tech that did the work. He was only concerned because there is some rust/corrosion on the heating chamber, and...well, its 30 years old. so it "could" eventually leak CO . So, I'll just be careful to never run it w/o a CO detector also running.

It only needed to be cleaned and adjusted. that was the reason it was not getting enough air.

I haven't looked at the fridge flame, as there's been no need (its new; electronic ignition, etc...). The water heater seems to be fine.

Now I just need to find a "vent kit". the flange that holds the exhaust pipe in place against the wall was corroded badly.
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Old 04-22-2004, 03:07 PM   #7
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I hope the tech checked the crossover tube on the back of the furnace. They have a habbit of cracking and going bad. I replaced mine with a high quality heater hose from Napa auto parts.

Look up furnace in the search on this site and you'll find out a bunch of stuff about that furnace.
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Old 04-22-2004, 04:21 PM   #8
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thanks for the heads up...I will check on that. I searched back and found the previous discussions on that issue, and I'm sure mine is probably one of the recalled models. its an NT-22. The tech didn't mention anything. I didn't notice the rubber tube either...must be a bit burried (?). but its in the back of my truck as we speak, so I'll take a look.
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Old 04-22-2004, 05:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Safari Tim
I hope the tech checked the crossover tube on the back of the furnace. They have a habbit of cracking and going bad. I replaced mine with a high quality heater hose from Napa auto parts...
On my furnace, the tube in question is mounted more in the middle of the furnace.

I have to admit, I am not sure what the fuss was about. It appeared this tube, roughly three inches in diameter, and around two inches long, was located on the intake side of the furnace flame. If that is the case, a cracked tube would allow the furnace to suck air out of the interior of your Airstream as opposed to the design goal of the exterior. There would be no chance of CO poisoning.

Nonetheless, I did remedy the situation when I had my furnace out in case I was wrong.

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Old 04-22-2004, 08:31 PM   #10
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How did you remedy it?

I think any air leak from the outside intake through the furnace all the way to the exhaust could lead to CO problems in the trailer.

I replaced my hose and cleaned out all kinds of mudd dauber nests that were in the intake. I also had to make new brushes for the DC blower motor out of solder wick to get the motor working. So far it has been a good fix for the last couple of years.

Although we only go to full hook up places and use an electric space heater. I do test run the furnace every couple of months though. But still not sure I would trust it since it's so old. I do have CO and LP detectors hard wired just in case.
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Old 04-23-2004, 07:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcwilliams
On my furnace, the tube in question is mounted more in the middle of the furnace.

I have to admit, I am not sure what the fuss was about. It appeared this tube, roughly three inches in diameter, and around two inches long, was located on the intake side of the furnace flame. If that is the case, a cracked tube would allow the furnace to suck air out of the interior of your Airstream as opposed to the design goal of the exterior. There would be no chance of CO poisoning.
Tom
I was thinking exactly the same thing. that appears to be a "suction" line. any leak would cause air to be sucked IN to the furnace; not out to the trailer's interior.

anyway, I found the same short tube that you described, and it appears to be in good shape.

I won't be able to re-install it this weekend, though, because the repair place didn't order a "vent kit" that I need, and won't be able to until monday. I hope the part is still available, or all this is for not. I need what the manual refers to as a "vent cap adapter". The tech thought that this adapter, as well as the vent cover, come in this kit. The old one is so badly corroded, the screw holes are just "gone".
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Old 04-25-2004, 11:19 PM   #12
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Same problem - fixed

I just purchased a 71 Safari in Wisconsin and pulled it back to the west coast. The first few nights were very cold and I ran the furnace but it smelled bad. Got a headache. Bought a CO detector and it went off eventually so I stopped using it. I also found mine running "rich" and tried to adjust to no avail. Tried cleaning the screen on the outside, which was clogged up pretty bad, but it didn't help much.

So I took it to a small repair shop in Missoula and he looked it over. Great guy. Blew the furnace box out with compressed air for about 30 min, with a couple of long nozzles from both inside and outside. You should have seen all the CRAP coming out of the exhaust port - mostly black sooty dust. Tons of it. Apparently the screen clogs up, then it starts running rich and soots up on the inside - pretty soon it is all clogged up and can't burn cleanly. He resealed the plate with that putty tape (without a screen) and it now burns with a nice blue flame and works perfectly. No smell, no CO alarms. What a great guy. Would only take $30.

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Old 04-26-2004, 07:31 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Would only take $30.

-john
you got yourself a bargain, my friend...either that, or I've been "had".

For the cleaning and adjustment, I was charged 2 hrs of labor @ $65/hr...and had to wait 6 weeks to get the thing back.

AND I can't re-install it yet, because they didn't order the vent adapter that I need.
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Old 03-11-2005, 01:43 PM   #14
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The rest of the story?

Chuck -- Whatever happened with your furnace? Did you get it back in? Is it working? Are you going to replace it?

The Suburban NT-22 furnace in our '76 Safari is the only thing we know for sure is not working. Living in the land of $65/hr labor costs, I'm thinking I'd be better off to put the money towards a new furnace. What do you think?

-Jamie
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Old 03-11-2005, 03:25 PM   #15
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yes...short story: its working.

the long story: I was rather po'd at the repair shop that went ahead and "fixed" a furnace that "shouldn't be used", according to them, and also could not be re-installed in a trailer without that vent kit I mentioned. Why didn't the tech just stop right there when he saw the condition? why did they not know, being an authorized Suburban repair facility, that my broken parts are not replaceable, rendering the furnace unuseable???? (I found this out by talking to tech support at Suburban. no replacement available). Why would anyone in their right mind want to pay 125 bucks for something that shouldn't be used, and is essentially "un-fix-able"????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????? but I digress...


that "vent cap adapter" is a 39-cent sheet metal stamping that seals the exhaust tube on the furnace to the inside and outside wall. I know there is a picture here on this site somewhere, where I posted the solution, and you can see the part I'm talking about.

the solution: a kind hearted aistreamforums member had one of these parts kicking around his shop, (his furnace was recycled, but this part didn't leave with the rest of it), and dropped it in the mail to me. Last fall, I installed the furnace when the need for heat arose, and it works flawlessly. no soot, no CO, no nuthin. works great. I'm sure I'll get a few more years out of it, but I doubt I'll be spending any more money on it.

As for yours...gotta find out "why" it doesn't work to determine whether or not its worth fixing. I wouldn't replace. I just don't think they're worth what they cost. (~$600). and they take up too much room. They use so much electricity, it isn't practical to use them while boondocking. If you can only use it w/ shore power, you might as well just use one of those little $30 electric-ceramic heaters, which will warm this size trailer very nicely. The only choice when boon-docking is a catalytic, which runs on propane only. The drawback to those is that they don't have a thermostat, and I've found that even on the lowest setting, its TOO warm! (even in 30 degree weather).

now, your mileage may vary. you may like to boondock just for 1 night...charge the batteries all day on the road from the tow vehicle. You may want to use the hot-air system's waste-tank ducting to keep your tanks from freezing in -0 weather, which would be beyond the capabilities of a catalytic or ceramic heater. I have no grey tank, and the black tank is not under the floor...so no hot-air ducting from the furnace exists. and I don't camp when its that cold, anyway. I went to the trouble of re-installing the furnace because I have a very young son, who does not yet understand "NO!! DON'T TOUCH!!! HOT!!!". a catalytic or ceramic heater would be within his reach, and are therefore, quite dangerous. The furnace is not within his reach. In a couple of years...I might make better use of the cabinet space under the sink.

edit: see this thread for pics of the part I'm talking about:
http://www.airforums.com/forum...hlight=furnace
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Old 03-11-2005, 04:01 PM   #16
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Question Ouch!

I got an estimate on the cost of replacement and it's like you said, plus tax and labor, so $870. It might be in the future for us, but I think for now we'll at least try to find out what's wrong with our furnace and whether or not it can be fixed and still be safe to use.

Truth is, right now we don't know how we'll be using our Safari because it's so new to us. At some point we might want to use it in cold weather but for now it will just be a 3-season camper, weekends and vacations. We do have an old catalytic heater that works. It's a little rusty, but it works and warms nicely.

Btw, I have the original "Installation, Operating, and Service Instructions" manual for my Suburban NT-22A (also covers model numbers NT-20A, NT-20AD, NT-22A, NT-22AD, NT-22CS, NT-22CDS, NT-30A, NT-30AD, NT-30CS, NT-30CDS). I also have a manual for model numbers NT-22FCA, NT-22FC, NT-22FCD, NT-32FCA, NT-32FC, and NT32FCD. Don't know why I have them, but they came with the trailer. I'm happy to make a copy for anyone who needs it.

-Jamie
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Old 03-11-2005, 04:32 PM   #17
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Jamie,

Those furnaces are definnalty not worth having to pay the labor to check them out.

If you know about such gas appliances and can get it going yourself it may be worth it. I pulled mine and fixed the crossover recall tube, cleaned, and repaired the brushes on the motor.

It works good, but.... I still don't trust it just because of its age. I have a three year old camping with us and its just not worth the risk.

I did install an LP and CO detector though and would suggest that everyone do the same.

We use a ceramic heater that has a thermostat built in. We also purchased the heatstrip for the a/c and that helps too. We always use full hookup sites so it's not a problem for us.

If you need a reliable and safe furnace I'd save up and get a new one when you can.
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Old 03-11-2005, 11:35 PM   #18
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You can also try a refurbished furnace from Colaw's.
I got an NT-20 to replace the old, leaky and smelly one in my Minuet. It was $300 shipped to me.
He may not have one for you right away but it is worth waiting for it. He even sent me a new cheapy thermostat for it.
It also came with a six month warranty on it.
If you want a new NT-20 you can pick one up at www.bigdiscountrv.com for right around $450 with free shipping. That would help you save money too. If they would have had them for that price last year I would have a new one now.
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Old 03-12-2005, 09:17 AM   #19
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My story:
When I began having problems with my Suburban NT-30 refusing to light after initial heating sequence several years ago, I pulled it out and took it to the local RV place. He found numerous muddaubber nests inside the combustion chamber, a motor that was not spooling up fast enough to "trip the sail" and a circuit board that was shot. He blew out the nests, replaced the motor and put in a new board all for $385. I remember seeing NT30's for $425 plus shipping at the time on a yahoo shopping search or ebay (can't remember). After I got the unit back, I put it in and it ran fine for awhile then wouldn't re-light again. I took the entire trailer in and he ran some tests. He found that the thermo switch which prevents overheating was on the high side and messed up the board he had put in. He graciously replaced the board and put in a lower or functioning thermo switch. It has been fine ever since but I wondered if maybe I shouldn't have just bought a new unit at the time.
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Old 07-06-2005, 08:19 PM   #20
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New furnace/

Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck
just got off the phone w/ the local repair shop. I dropped off my furnace to have it checked out a few weeks ago. Only problem with it was that it was running rich...soot on the outside of the camper. I found a manual online for this Suburban NT-22, which is probably original equipment. It gave instructions to increase the amount of combustion air, by turning a screw...turned the screw, but the flame was still yellow. So, I figured I'd pull it out, and let the techs clean and adjust...or at least diagnose.

So the person on the phone can only tell me that the bill was 130 bucks for 2 hours of labor, and the slip has written on it "recommend buying a new furnace". um...ok. why? (no answer). so I'll have to try and nail down the tech when I go to pick it up, but it kind of make me wonder: is it fixed, or isn't it??? is there something "dangerous" about it...or does the tech just not like the color?

assuming that I really *should* buy a new furnace...where's a good place?
Did you end up with a new furnace? I want to replace the one I just took out oo. Can you recommend any names or modles/
thanks
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