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Old 12-11-2019, 09:25 PM   #1
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19 degrees, no furnace :)

Thought Id share a photo of my emergency plan in action. Furnace is out with snow on the ground and 19 degree temps.

Trying to resolve my furnace problem with some help from the forum:


The 32 degree problem
http://www.airforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=203350


Until a resolution, Ive skirted the AS with insulation board with a heat lamp underneath and two space heaters running inside, not ideal but its working, ha ha

Seasons greetings full-timers!Click image for larger version

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Old 12-11-2019, 09:39 PM   #2
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You are one tough person in a tough situation. It looks like you are making some good progress. I wish you the best of luck and sleep tonight. Any thoughts of putting an electric oil type space heater in addition to or replacing the heat lamps under the trailer inside of the foam to keep the tanks and all from freezing? I would be worried about a ceramic heater or the like and the potential for problems under there when you are sleeping so in my amateur opinion you are on a good path.
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Old 12-11-2019, 09:51 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by bweybright View Post
You are one tough person in a tough situation. It looks like you are making some good progress. I wish you the best of luck and sleep tonight. Any thoughts of putting an electric oil type space heater in addition to or replacing the heat lamps under the trailer inside of the foam to keep the tanks and all from freezing? I would be worried about a ceramic heater or the like and the potential for problems under there when you are sleeping so in my amateur opinion you are on a good path.


Bweybright, it all makes me uneasy, I wont deny that. Right now underneath is simply just a bulb. I dont know of any type of oil heater that would fit underneath. An oil heater might be best for inside, idk. I do have the Dyson Hot Cold Air Purifier which is kind of the Mac Daddy of space heaters, I feel safe with it, not so much with the regular space heater in the dinette area or the bulb, will honestly probably turn all off except for the Dyson when I go to sleep. Still hoping for a furnace fix soon.
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Old 12-11-2019, 10:02 PM   #4
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So when I had my kids in the trailer at Christmas in similar temperatures I personally was comfortable running an oil filled space heater on the inside all the time, and having a forced air ceramic heater that they could run to boost the heat at night until they went to sleep on top of the stove (not near the bed where they would be tempted to run it and have a blanked or something fall on it...yes a paranoid parent)....all connected to a 30 amp RV outlet, a 110 Extension cord from a house would not provide the needed electric. This way the oil heater running full on all the time (except for its safety time outs) kept things somewhat stable and from freezing over the days and they could boost the warm at night. I did not see that one of the oil heaters would really warm the inside of the trailer to comfort levels without a boost from another source hence the two units.

In your situation you could consider a forced air ceramic under the trailer to warm the tanks when home...and turn off at night and days.
In the end, yes furnace fixed and you now have some really good fireside stories to tell!!
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Old 12-12-2019, 03:22 AM   #5
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Sorry for your troubles in northern Indiana [according to the post in your other thread].

At the risk of raining on your parade . . .

Keeping in mind that Airstreams are only 3-season trailers, and are not designed to function in cold weather in your location, here is a weather reality-check for Elkhart IN.

https://www.accuweather.com/en/us/el...eather/2635257

The bottom lines show what temps you are looking at for the rest of this month, and you can go to January easily. Note forecast lows in the 20's in the blue lines.

Here is the micro forecast for the next few days:

https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClic...Type=graphical

Hit the "Forward Two Days" button on the top right, and you can see the next 4-5 days . . . mostly temps in the 20's. Note especially the winds . . . this is what sucks away any heat you generate under the trailer . . . even if you "beef up" the BTU's down there. Strong winds will absolutely defeat a solution [assuming that your skirting is anything but airtight ]

So . . . even if you get the furnace going . . . it is likely to be a real struggle. Best to face this now, and come up with a back-up plan IMO.



Good luck,

Peter

PS -- These "Colorado winter camping" search results will pull up some older threads where folks have tried [and mostly failed] to get through a northern winter full-timing in an Airstream:

https://www.google.com/search?q=Colo...com&gws_rd=ssl

At a minimum, energy costs to avoid freeze-ups are extreme, even with a functioning furnace.
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Old 12-12-2019, 03:43 AM   #6
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PS2 -- Vitaver posted about his attempts, although I can't find all his posts right now. If you click on the orange arrow in this quote, you will see one of the threads in those search results in the previous PS:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vitaver View Post
Today one of my propane bottles emptied, after a month of use. I did experience freezing on the black tank valve and on the shower elbow, so I added 2 lamps under the rig with some wood boards around the tanks to keep more of the heat. One space heater on high, one on low (1.5KW and 750 W), and the thermostat on the wall set at 69.
If you click on Vitaver's user name, you can see his other posts via the drop down menu. His last post on AirForums was a year ago FWIW.
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Old 12-12-2019, 06:05 AM   #7
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Reality check: right now, a 4 hour power outage and your Airstream is done for plumbing wise. You and family end up in a cheap hotel, a relative's basement or a homeless shelter. When will you be able to afford the repairs if you couldn't winterize immediately? I wouldn't want to try to blow the lines out with a battery powered tire pump, but without electricity that is all you'll have.

If you already own a large generator or two... you can refuel every four hours and keep space heaters going, but for how long?

You are going to think this suggestion is too expensive, but trying to learn furnace repair in 20 weather could be suicidal. Find a mobile repair service in your area and confirm that they have a furnace in stock to replace yours. Even with a $100 minimum travel fee and $100 per hour, REPLACE the furnace, and have the tech leave the old one with you. Then futz with it fix it, bench test and sell it. You need heat asap and getting the furnace fixed or replaced will be a big savings over what you will spend on electricity.

Next serious suggestion. Get a marine propane stove and vent it through the flat front window opening for a quick and dirty install (plywood to replace the glass and lots of insulation to back it). Cannot bring to mind the brand, but one with a double walled pipe, that draws air in from outside for combustion and vents exhaust gasses out. Of course this may be more expensive tham a new furnace.

Last serious suggestion. Craigslist, GoFundMe or something similar. Find a heated place to hide out til March. Cow or horse barns, anyone with a pole building, empty commercial space etc. Even unheated and out of the wind would be an improvement.
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Old 12-12-2019, 06:31 AM   #8
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Sorry for prior post. I went back and read your other thread. Problem originated with a bad thermostat which has not been resolved.

OK, RTFM (read the **** manual). In olden days the air conditioner and furnace each had their own controls... you could turn them on together. Is there a manual override that would let you bench test the furnace's operation?

It wouldn't hurt to pull the inside cover off of the air conditioner and blow dry the phone wires inside. After that I would have the tech come out.
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Old 12-12-2019, 06:59 AM   #9
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The problem being described is definitely a short/disturbance (change in impedance etc.) in the controls wiring or electronics. Several posters have stated it directly and others have alluded to it. When the unit is off it reads the temperature more or less directly from the thermostat unit without complete logic processing through the main unit logic board. When on, the temperature is processed through the logic board. There is an exterior temperature sensor on the unit and connections on the main logic board for an optional remote interior temperature sensor. I am not sure your trailer uses the remote sensor. I have dual heat pumps so mine does. There is also a freeze sensor on the exterior coils. A couple folks have mentioned the semi exposed controls and instrument wiring in the exterior unit. One mentioned that once the the wires are exposed to some water and then freeze it won't work until they are thawed and dried.

Okay so until you can get some help from Dometic, here are some things to try:

You'll have to remove the inlet filter/screen to get to the logic board. Dometic has installation manuals online and they vary just a bit depending on ducted or not. Some optionally accept standard thermostats, some only the CCC2. Here one manual but all the others are there as well.

https://www.dometic.com/en-us/us/sup...-pump-_-153319

Easy to hardest......

1) If you have a remote interior temp sensor, temporarily disconnect it. See if that changes things up enough to get communications and controls back up.

2) The units have two communications ports so you can daisy chain up to 4 units together. Switch the "phone" cable to the other port.

3) Inspect the logic board connections, tighten/wiggle all the connections. Inspect the board for any sign of damage.

4) Get up on the roof with a hair dryer and dry off all the controls wires you can locate. take the unit cover off if you have to.

5) Still no luck? Maybe there is a poor solder on the logic board..... take a heat gun to it (with the unit off, no power) to soften and re-seat the solder connections (advanced step, be careful not to overheat any one spot, but it does need to get hot....)


Good luck.
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Old 12-12-2019, 07:36 AM   #10
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The thermostat controls the furnace through the AC unit. There are two blue wires that come into the AC unit from the furnace. Disconnect these from the AC unit and connect them (through a switch or simple thermostat would be ideal) to each other. The furnace should run.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Honeywel...1007/202849704

You can get access to the wires by removing the inside cowl and filters on the AC.

At least this is true on my non-ducted 2002 unit.

Al
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Old 12-12-2019, 08:12 AM   #11
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The thermostat controls the furnace through the AC unit. There are two blue wires that come into the AC unit from the furnace. Disconnect these from the AC unit and connect them (through a switch or simple thermostat would be ideal) to each other. The furnace should run.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Honeywel...1007/202849704

You can get access to the wires by removing the inside cowl and filters on the AC.

At least this is true on my non-ducted 2002 unit.

Al
I read your original thread. The furnace will try three times to light and then go into fault mode. To clear that you have to reset the furnace with its power switch inside the outside door or remove power (set USE/STORE to STORE momentarily.

You may have two problems, the thermostat and the furnace not lighting. As mentioned in the above thread, short the two blue wires together and work on the furnace. Make sure you have propane and it is turned on. You may have to turn the tank valves off, bleed the pressure off by loosening the hoses at the tanks and then tighten the connections and turn the valves on SLOWLY to avoid tripping the over pressure device (OPD).

Al
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Old 12-12-2019, 09:25 AM   #12
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Where are you at? I am in North Alabama and we have not had temperatures that cold here. I put a 1600W extra heating coil in my AC unit and that takes care of most heating problems. I would think an space heater on low would take care of freezing issues as long as you don't go below the 20's. Having the system unpressurized by turning the water off and disconnecting from a water source and opening faucets will help a lot. PEX tubing is pretty for giving. Most problems are caused by water being trapped between two valves. If you can give water a place to go when it freezes, that helps a lot. Like some other have suggested hotwire the furnace thermostat lead by shorting the wires. You can get a cheap thermostat from Lowes to replace the comfort control center if you want a thermostat. Many furnace problems are caused by bugs clogging up stuff.



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Old 12-12-2019, 09:41 AM   #13
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Why do all the "airstreams are 3 season trailers" people come to the winter living section?

I overwintered in my motorhome in northern Indiana last winter without ever skirting, though this winter I might, it's definitely a good idea

Do be prepared to winterize and dry camp ahead of anything below -10, in my experience that was the point where keeping water liquid was impossible. The good thing about this area is it won't ever stay cold for more than a few days.

And have pex plumbing supplies on hand, along with whatever tools you need to access hard to reach plumbing. I only broke one fitting last year, and it was the check valve for city water in, so it didn't matter, but you might not be as lucky


I'm also currently troubleshooting my 1 year old suburban furnace... ug


Last thought, plastic on the windows to cut down draft makes a world of difference

Second last thought, yes, oil heaters are great, definitely make the most of your 50A of electric
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Old 12-12-2019, 10:18 AM   #14
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Drain as much as possible; get an adapter valve at Walmart; use a bike pump to force air through the lines, toilet, shower, sinks, one at a time; add 6 gallons of rv antifreeze; use the water pump to run antifreeze through the lines, one at a time.

This should work. But a cracked water line isn’t the end of the world.
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Old 12-12-2019, 11:12 AM   #15
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I, too, have to disagree with the statements that these are not all season trailers. We live full-time in our 31' Classic. We are now into our second winter. We have no skirt, and we stay warm and comfy with two small ceramic heaters supplemented - if needed - by our furnace. We also have a heated mattress pad cover. In October we connect our heated water hose - disconnect that in April. We have a tankless water heater so we get nice, steamy water without limits.

I leave two windows very slightly cracked to avoid condensation problems - that works great.

Last night the temps were down in the 20's. Last winter we went a week without getting above freezing.

Everything is fine. Use the trailer!
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Old 12-12-2019, 01:49 PM   #16
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How cold is too cold

So running tank heaters and disconnecting city water, keeping interior relatively warm,how cold is too cold to camp without winterizing?
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Old 12-12-2019, 02:26 PM   #17
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Certainly people can live in an Airstream trailer over a winter and survive. It depends on how cold and snowy it gets. Snow is good, it insulates. Make sure, however, it does not cover any vents on the roof. Skirting helps a lot, but any insulation has to be air sealed to work well. Tape all joints between panels and between panels and the trailer body. An incandescent light bulb is very inefficient for light, but does produce a lot of heat. One bulb may not be enough for the tanks if it stays very cold. It is easy enough to add another socket and bulb and double the heat underneath. When it gets windy, park motor vehicles to block the wind. Insulate the skylight and fans—you won;t need them during the winter. You can ventilate through the small bathroom or shower fan and a window slightly opened.

Check record lows for winter where you are. It probably won't go any lower than that this winter, but it can and you should plan for the worst. If money is an issue, it might be cheaper to go south, but I don't know your situation. Frozen trailers could be quite expensive compared to other solutions. I do remember reports of Airstreams lived in northern states and at the Grand Canyon during the winter. The experiences were dreadful it appeared, but you can soldier through as others have. I doubt many who have had a long period of severe weather try it again.

Just because you can live in it all year does not mean it is a true four season trailer. Insulation in the walls and roof is minimal, thermal leaks abound and there are no thermal breaks between the inner and outer skins, none have thermal pane windows.
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Old 12-12-2019, 02:35 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 69SoulShine View Post
So running tank heaters and disconnecting city water, keeping interior relatively warm,how cold is too cold to camp without winterizing?
How cold is too cold depends on how long subfreezing temps persist, the lowest temps, wind, whether there are well sealed skirts, whether it gets sunny or stays cloudy. That is no an exhaustive list, of course. One night of 20˚ for a few hours is a lot less of a problem than a whole day below around 28˚. At that temperature, water will start getting slushy then freeze hard after a while. When it is only very cold for a short time, slush will come, but not a hard freeze. But if every day is 20˚ in the morning and 35˚ in mid day, you are losing ground.

Disconnecting the water hose only protects the hose and the spigot. It will not protect the trailer. But do watch for the exterior shower and remove the hose and shower head. I would stuff the compartment with insulation too and then tape the door to prevent air leaks to the exterior.
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Old 12-12-2019, 03:42 PM   #19
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Thumbs up

Your last two comments are spot on, Gene.

Peter
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Old 12-12-2019, 05:01 PM   #20
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Our fresh water well head, a vacuum pump system of some sort of big horsepower pump, brought groundwater up 484 feet, to the frozen surface. Occasionally it would freeze up at the top, drawing sub zero air to bring the ground water to the surface and underground into our home.

Used the Wife's hair dryer, set it up on maximum heat and under the fake large insulated plastic boulder, that protected the well head above ground from freezing. Let it run and once we had water moving, put a large wattage flood lamp underneath for the next 15 below zero night...

Unless you move to California and PG&E has to shut down everything because the wind is going to pick up over the Holidays. Some may be like the giant 'hair dryer' blower with dry instant electric heat and blower. Construction crews use them for heat in the winter... to sheetrock.

Hope you get it all worked out. I like your styrofoam idea. The ground just below the surface, three feet or so, is the average of the high and the lows for the year, I hear. Those 'heat pumps' they talk many into using at their homes work on that idea. Cool in the Summer and Warm in the Winter. What could go wrong?
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