Travel trailer furnace quit again

By | 16 January 2016

Three days short of a year, my travel trailer furnace quit again.

It quit in December 2014 on a trip from Arizona to British Columbia. The cause then was bad propane – oil in the bottle – complicated by shoddy practices where debris from the manufacturing process had not been removed. The propane regulator and hoses at the tanks had also failed.

Then in January 2015, the card – the electronic brain of the furnace gave up the ghost.

Third time unlucky – travel trailer furnace quit again

This time, in January 2016, the furnace quit again.

We are between trips to Arizona and home with family for Christmas. I could winterize the trailer but it is easier to just keep it running for the month and besides, I sleep in it.

travel trailer quit in winter

Temperatures have been moderate this winter averaging just one or two degrees below freezing. The coldest night this past month was -17 C / +1 F. What is unusual is the number of days of snow – much more than usual. The accumulation is less than last year but it has snowed more frequently.

Our Outdoor RV Timber Ridge is built for use in all four seasons. I’m not going to enter the debate that sees some people saying “at best, travel trailers are three season rigs” while others swear by “the optional Arctic packages“. In my opinion, the Nash products (Nash, Arctic Fox, and especially the Outdoor RV lines) are built with four season use in mind and I have not (yet) found any others that are.

Our Timber Ridge is comfy all year round from -22 C / -8 F to +45 C / +111 F. I know because I have lived in this trailer through that range.

Until the furnace quits.

What are the consequences when the furnace quits?

It quit on a Sunday just days into the New Year. Not a good day to find help.

At the time the furnace quit, my waste tanks were ¾ full – not a problem with the furnace running, they should last until we hit the road again later this month. Besides, the usual winter season dump stations are closed this year. And more – I don’t want to move the trailer with snow on the roof or snow on the roads.

My fresh tank is almost empty but it doesn’t matter because it has a factory-installed twelve-volt heater. I am not concerned about the hot water tank because I have shore power and propane.

My biggest concern is the interior water lines – especially behind the shower enclosure. From experience, they freeze first.

Immediate actions

My shore power (at this location) is 15 Amp. I can run one portable heater. It may or may not maintain an above-freezing temperature.

I pull in the slide to reduce volume and plug in the heater. Overnight Sunday, the water lines in the space behind the shower stop flowing.

I send an e-mail to David my RV service manager. He gets it early Monday morning – the first day back to work after the Holidays.

“Bring it in”, David says.

It’s just not that simple …

Monday morning – 18 hours since the furnace quit – it’s snowing again. The RV service centre is about 50 miles away.

I take the truck out to do a recce. The residential roads are not plowed. The access to the main road is uphill. The main road is a steep downhill into the centre of town. Everybody is back to work today. I go through town as far as the highway. It seems pretty good.

I call David to say, “I can’t get there from here, today.”

An hour later, the highway is closed for several hours when a driver slides off the road and into the lake. She does not survive.

In comparison, my problems are not that big.

Try again on Tuesday …

Tuesday mid-morning I repeat my reconnaissance. I can probably make it. The odds are good enough to try.

An hour and a half later, I pull into the service centre in four-wheel drive. David meets me in the yard and suggests that I park ‘over there’. When all four wheels spin and the truck starts to go sideways on the snow covered ice in the parking lot, we decide to fix it where it sits.

Four hours later, ready to go

The tech found four issues:

  • the high-limit switch was exhibiting intermittent failure
  • the on-off switch in the furnace compartment had failed
  • an in-line fuse had failed
  • the electronic brain had failed

The brain had failed. It was two days short of a year since it had been installed. It was within the three-year component warranty. It doesn’t bother me that I get the one-in-a-million that doesn’t last until it is out of warranty. That happens. The complexity of modern electronics in design and manufacturing is going to – on occasion – produce an instance that fails prematurely.

Everybody needs a good tech

Let me be absolutely clear. There are a many RV sales & service centres in the Okanagan Valley.

I have found the one for me.

The service manager and the techs have demonstrated that they are there for me. They are reachable by email and by phone. They tell me what they are doing and why. They accommodate my schedule and needs. They advise me. They answer my questions.

By choice, I will not go anywhere else.

Where is that? you ask.

Kelowna RV





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