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High altitude furnace and water heater problem?


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OEII #069 (2015). Camping last night in Evergreen, CO (altitude of approx 7700 feet) ... pretty chilly this morning so turned the furnace on (its been working fine the past 6 days of our trip) ... fan kicked on, but then after a few minutes the heater failed to ignite and the fan shutoff.  Same with the water heater - doesn't seem to ignite.  I thought perhaps was out of propane but the stove works perfectly (indicating propane supply is ok) ... but, to be certain, I switched to the fresh #2 tank ... tried the furnace and water heater again with same result (not working).  Two possibilities now come to mind ... 1) high altitude is affecting the ignition of the units, or 2) traveling washboard gravel road in the Pawnee National Grasslands yesterday has rattled a connection (or two) loose.  Certainly not a life threatening concern, but a little inconvenience.  Anyone have any thoughts?  Thanks in advance. -Dan

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Another possibility could be that with the cold temp propane does not vaporize as fast.  Combine that with the altitude and ???  Having said this, I have never had an issue with altitude (up to 11,000 feet) nor cold (down to 28 degrees).  I have experienced a combination of altitude (roughly 8,000 feet) plus cold (about 28 degrees) and had no issues with the heater nor the fridge - sorry but I didn't use the water heater that time.

The first thing I would do at this point would be to use compressed air to blow out any dust/debris in the burner areas of both.  Also, you could try lighting them during the warmer part of the day to see if that was the issue.

Good luck.

Bill

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If the front of the trailer is not already facing south, shift it so the sun shines on the doghouse (to warm the bottles). You could even carefully put a small 110 volt electric box heater in there to assist. That might help. Does your range and fridge work on propane? If so, it is not a supply issue. The jets on both WH and furnace can be replaced with smaller ones to compensate for thinner air, but this shouldn’t be done if you will often be close to sea level. The standard 6 gallon Suburban WH jet can be replaced in half a minute, literally, it is held in with a spring clip. The furnace one requires a good bit of disassembly….. 

If the tank isn’t flowing gas at all, you could have a regulator issue, or you might want to buy one of these…. Powerblanket

John Davies

Spokane WA

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JD:  His stove is working perfectly.... not likely a tank or regulator problem.

Several days at altitude and the larger jets leads me to wonder if you have carbonized the igniter and possibly the burner tubes.  Look to see if there is a lot of carbon black in the area.  If so, brush and blow it out... of course with the propane turned off for safety.

GJ

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Hmmm? ... problem solved!  So, I determined it was not a propane issue as the gas stove was working fine.  Then I figured perhaps all the dust that was stirred up while traversing the Pawnee Grasslands gravel roads was a possibility.  I opened the hatch to the water heater and simply blew out the compartment (yeah, with my own mouth/breath) - then tested the water heater and it fired right up.  Then, blew out the intake/exhaust ports of the furnace. From there went inside, opened the access hatch to the furnace (curb side rear) and learned that it would be very difficult to do any disassembly given the cramped quarters in there ... but, for the heck of it, used some compressed air (in a can) and blew through several of the vented openings and into the collar where the wiring exits the box.  Viola! ... turned the thermostat switch back on and set the temp at 75 degrees ... fan kicked on (just like before) and a minute or so later the furnace fired up! Thanks guys for the thoughts and suggestions ... when I get back home will need to do a thorough cleaning and check everything closely.  Cheers! -Dan

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On 10/6/2021 at 11:29 AM, topgun2 said:

Another possibility could be that with the cold temp propane does not vaporize as fast.  Combine that with the altitude and ???  Having said this, I have never had an issue with altitude (up to 11,000 feet) nor cold (down to 28 degrees).  I have experienced a combination of altitude (roughly 8,000 feet) plus cold (about 28 degrees) and had no issues with the heater nor the fridge - sorry but I didn't use the water heater that time.

The first thing I would do at this point would be to use compressed air to blow out any dust/debris in the burner areas of both.  Also, you could try lighting them during the warmer part of the day to see if that was the issue.

Good luck.

Bill

Compressed air is your friend!

Just try to avoid directing the compressed air INTO the gas jet - that could make things much worse.

Bill 

2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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