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RV Furnace Troubleshooting

RV Furnace Troubleshooting Made Easy

RV furnace troubleshooting is a skill that most RV owners should have. A furnace is an essential appliance that provides you with heat and comfort during your travels. However, like any…

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RV furnace troubleshooting is a skill that most RV owners should have. A furnace is an essential appliance that provides you with heat and comfort during your travels. However, like any other appliance, RV furnaces can sometimes malfunction or fail to work properly. This can be frustrating and inconvenient, especially when you are in a cold or remote area.

Fortunately, there are some common RV furnace problems that you can troubleshoot and fix yourself, without having to call a professional or visit a repair shop.

In this blog post, we will show you how to identify and solve some of the most frequent issues that RV owners face with their furnaces. We will also provide you with some tips and tricks to prevent these problems from happening in the first place.

Common RV Furnace Problems and How to Fix Them

Before we dive into the specific problems and solutions, let’s review how an RV furnace works and what are the main components that make up the system. An RV furnace is a forced-air system that burns propane or natural gas to produce heat. The heat is then distributed through ductwork to various parts of the RV.

The main components of an RV furnace are:

  • A thermostat that controls the temperature and activates the furnace when needed.
  • A control board that regulates the ignition and operation of the furnace.
  • A relay that sends power to the blower motor and the gas valve.
  • A sail switch that detects the airflow from the blower motor and allows the ignition to proceed.
  • A blower motor that circulates air through the furnace and the ductwork.
  • A high-limit switch that shuts off the furnace if it overheats.
  • A flame sensor that monitors the presence of a flame and shuts off the gas valve if it goes out.
  • A gas valve that controls the flow of propane or natural gas to the burner.
  • A burner that ignites the gas and produces heat.
  • A heat exchanger that transfers heat from the burner to the air.
  • A vent that exhausts the combustion gases outside.

Now that we have a basic understanding of how an RV furnace works, let’s look at some of the common problems that can occur with each component and how to fix them.

READ: How to Fix an RV Furnace That Won’t Stay Lit

Problem 1: The Furnace Fan Runs, But The Propane Flame Doesn’t Light

This is one of the most common problems with RV furnaces. It can be caused by several reasons, such as:

  • Low or empty propane tanks
  • Faulty or clogged gas lines
  • Faulty or dirty electrodes
  • Faulty or dirty flame sensor
  • Faulty control board
  • Faulty gas valve

Checking Propane Supply
To troubleshoot this problem, start by checking that the propane tanks are turned on and that you have enough propane to provide the high level of British thermal units (BTUs) needed for furnace operation.

You can also check if other propane appliances in your RV are working properly, such as your stove or refrigerator. If they are not working either, then you may have a problem with your propane supply or regulator.

Inspecting Gas Lines

Next, check if there is any blockage or leakage in your gas lines. You can do this by running your hand along the lines and feeling for any cracks or damage. You can also use a soap solution to spray on the connections and look for any bubbles that indicate a leak. If you find any problem with your gas lines, you should replace them or tighten them as soon as possible.

Ignition System Assessment

If your propane supply and gas lines are fine, then you may have a problem with your ignition system. You can access this by removing the access panel on your furnace and looking for two metal rods near the burner.

These are called electrodes and they create a spark that ignites the gas. You should check if they are clean and aligned properly. You can use a wire brush or sandpaper to clean them if they are dirty or corroded. You can also adjust them if they are too far apart or too close together.

Understanding the Flame Sensor

Another component that can affect your ignition system is the flame sensor. This is a small metal rod that detects if there is a flame present and sends a signal to the control board to keep the gas valve open.

If it is dirty or faulty, it may not sense the flame and shut off the gas valve prematurely. You can clean it with a wire brush or sandpaper as well.

When to Seek Professional Help in RV Furnace Troubleshooting

If cleaning and adjusting your electrodes and flame sensor does not solve your problem, then you may have a faulty control board or gas valve.

These are more complex components that require professional diagnosis and replacement. You should not attempt to repair them yourself unless you have experience and proper tools.

Problem 2: The Furnace Fan Doesn’t Run At All

This problem can be caused by several reasons, such as:

  • Low or dead batteries
  • Tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses
  • Faulty thermostat
  • Faulty relay
  • Faulty blower motor

Battery and Power Check

To troubleshoot this problem, begin by examining your batteries. Ensure they’re fully charged and connected accurately. Remember, your RV furnace relies on a 12-volt DC power supply. If your batteries are depleted or dead, the furnace won’t function. Also, validate if your shore power or generator is delivering adequate power to your RV.

Electrical Panel Inspection

Next, turn your attention to the electrical panel, searching for any tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses impacting your furnace. Reset or replace any anomalies as necessary.

Thermostat Examination

If the power supply and electrical facets seem fine, the thermostat might be the culprit. Check its mode, temperature setting, and signal transmission to the furnace. Utilize a multimeter to gauge the voltage between thermostat terminals. A 12-volt reading implies a working thermostat, whereas no reading or a diminished one indicates a malfunction, necessitating replacement.

Relay Testing

Another pivotal component is the relay, which directs power from the thermostat to the blower motor and gas valve. Located on your furnace’s control board, test the relay with a multimeter. A 12-volt reading on both relay sides denotes functionality. In contrast, no reading or a decreased one means the relay is defective and should be replaced.

Blower Motor Assessment

Should thermostat and relay tests prove inconclusive, a faulty blower motor might be the issue. It drives the fan, ensuring air circulation through the furnace and ducts. Access it by unveiling the furnace’s access panel, and locate the cylindrical apparatus with wire connections.

Use a multimeter to test its resistance between terminals. Zero ohms indicates a shorted motor, necessitating replacement, while infinity ohms signifies an open motor, also demanding replacement.

READ: Do You Know How to Use a Multimeter?

Problem 3: The Furnace Runs But Doesn’t Produce Enough Heat

This problem can be caused by several reasons, such as:

  • Dirty or clogged air filters
  • Dirty or clogged ductwork
  • Low propane pressure
  • Faulty or dirty burner
  • Faulty or dirty heat exchanger

Checking Airflow Components

Initiate your RV furnace troubleshooting by examining the air filters and ductwork. Ensure they’re free from debris or blockages. The proper airflow is pivotal for distributing heat in your RV. Dirty or blocked filters and ducts can drastically reduce furnace efficiency. Regularly clean or substitute air filters and inspect ducts for damages or leaks.

Assessing Propane Pressure

Subsequently, validate the propane pressure, ensuring it aligns with furnace requirements. Since your RV furnace demands a substantial BTU level for heating, low propane pressure can hinder its performance. Utilize a manometer or pressure gauge on the regulator for this check. An optimal reading is 11 inches of water column (WC). If it’s lesser, consider adjusting or potentially replacing a defective regulator.

Evaluating Burner and Heat Exchanger

With satisfactory airflow and propane pressure, issues could stem from the burner or heat exchanger—the units responsible for heat generation and transfer. Access these by opening the furnace’s panel.

Look for a perforated metal tube (burner) and a finned metal box (heat exchanger). Their cleanliness and condition can influence furnace operation. Rust, soot, or debris presence could hamper their functionality. Employ a wire brush or compressed air for cleaning.

When Professional Intervention is Needed

If addressing the burner and heat exchanger doesn’t rectify matters, you might be dealing with faulty components requiring replacements. These intricate parts necessitate a professional’s touch for diagnosis and substitution. It’s advisable to refrain from DIY fixes without adequate expertise and tools.

Tips and Tricks to Prevent RV Furnace Problems

As you can see, there are many possible problems that can occur with your RV furnace, but there are also some simple steps that you can take to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Here are some tips and tricks that you can follow to keep your RV furnace in good shape and avoid costly repairs:

  • Perform regular maintenance on your RV furnace according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This includes cleaning or replacing the air filters, inspecting the ductwork, checking the propane supply and
  • pressure, testing the ignition system, and cleaning the burner and heat exchanger.
  • Use your RV furnace only when necessary and avoid overloading it with excessive demand. You can do this by setting your thermostat to a comfortable but not too high temperature, using alternative sources of heat such as electric heaters or blankets, and insulating your RV properly to prevent heat loss.
  • Store your RV furnace properly when not in use and protect it from moisture, dust, insects, and rodents. You can do this by turning off the propane supply, disconnecting the battery, covering the vent with a screen or a cap, and cleaning the furnace before storing it.
  • Seek professional help if you encounter any problem that you cannot fix yourself or that requires specialized tools or parts. You can find qualified and certified RV technicians in your area or online who can diagnose and repair your RV furnace safely and efficiently.

READ: How to Troubleshoot Goodman Furnace Codes

Conclusion

Your RV furnace is an essential appliance that provides you with heat and comfort during your travels. However, it can also experience some problems that can affect its performance and output. 

By following the steps in this RV furnace troubleshooting guide, you can fix some of the common RV furnace problems yourself and save time and money on repairs. You can also prevent these problems from happening in the first place by performing regular maintenance and proper storage on your RV furnace.

If you enjoyed this blog post and found it useful, please share it with your friends and family who own or are interested in RVs. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to receive more tips and tricks on how to maintain and enjoy your RV. Thank you for reading and happy camping!

HVAC aficionado, keeping temperatures just right and comfort levels off the charts. Connect with me on LinkedIn for cooling insights and follow me on Twitter for heating up the HVAC conversation. Let's create the perfect climate together!

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Hi there, I'm Robert Brooks

Hi there, I'm Robert Brooks

I’m so glad you are here! Welcome to my website, where I’ll share easiest HVAC troubleshooting tips, buyers guides, and everything about HVAC cooling and heating system. Learn more about me.

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