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Old 04-09-2020, 04:21 PM   #1
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Carbon Monoxide coming into the trailer from water heater

Hello all,

We have a 2020 Forest River Rockwood Mini Lite LT2104S and with it's design the water heater is just below the refrigerator at the rear of the trailer and when when the wind is blowing against the back of the trailer we are getting extraust fumes into the trailer through the space around the refrigerator and setting off the carbon/propane detector (we have to open everything up to air out). When we open the cabinet door just right of the refrigerator we can smell the exhaust. I have had it into the dealer and they said that there is nothing wrong. Is this a design flaw?
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Old 04-09-2020, 04:44 PM   #2
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Check that your top refrigerator vent is open with no obstructions. Mine (different model) had some fiberglass fall over the top vent (sidewall style) that restricted air flow. You may want to see if the cabinet surrounding the refrigerator can be sealed
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Old 04-09-2020, 05:37 PM   #3
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It might be a good idea to make sure that the burner in the water heater is running with a "blue flame". If the flame is showing signs of "yellow" it means it has a restricted air flow into the burner which raises the CO level from the flame.

Can be as simple as an insect building a winter home in the air intake or maybe just an easy air adjustment on the burner.

Read the manual before attempting air adjustment. As for "bug homes" compressed air can really be your friend when it comes to "evicting" them.
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Old 04-09-2020, 06:45 PM   #4
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The refrigerator, presuming it's propane, should be fully sealed around its perimeter to prevent its exhaust gases from getting into the living space. I had to pull my refrigerator and redo the sealing, which was time consuming and difficult.
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Old 04-09-2020, 06:54 PM   #5
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Agree both water heater and fridge should be fully sealed. Dealer should do this without question. Contact forest river this is a dangerous warranty situation.
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Old 04-10-2020, 12:13 AM   #6
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Yes it is a dangerous condition! CO is more harmful then many think. CO stays in your body and can build up over time.
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Old 04-10-2020, 01:32 AM   #7
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It might be a good idea to make sure that the burner in the water heater is running with a "blue flame". If the flame is showing signs of "yellow" it means it has a restricted air flow into the burner which raises the CO level from the flame.

Can be as simple as an insect building a winter home in the air intake or maybe just an easy air adjustment on the burner.

Read the manual before attempting air adjustment. As for "bug homes" compressed air can really be your friend when it comes to "evicting" them.
X2 A tiny spider web can reduce air into the burner resulting in some propane unburned - and a very potent odor in the exhaust.
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Old 04-10-2020, 08:58 AM   #8
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Thank you all for your replies. I wish I could post a photo of the rear my trailer but it is at the dealer for warranty repairs (we purchased the trailer in December 2019). This was one of our concerns and currently they are saying that it is just a design flaw because it only happens when the wind is blowing into the rear of the trailer. The photo I have attached was from a trailer in the showroom (it's the best that I have at this time). It shows that the water heater is directly below the refrigerator.

I will update once a get an additional update from the dealer.
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Old 04-10-2020, 09:48 AM   #9
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If dealer won't fix/seal then contact Forest River as this should not happen whether the wind is blowing or not.
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Old 04-10-2020, 09:59 AM   #10
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On windy days use the electric mode. use a half moon shaped wind block out of a coffee can to block breeze so you keep a good flame.
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Old 04-10-2020, 12:11 PM   #11
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Great suggestion Thomas. One of the items we have the trailer at the dealer for the warranty repairs is the electric side of the water heater (it wasn't working). They said that it was a cut wire and is being fixed.
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Old 04-10-2020, 12:11 PM   #12
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On windy days use the electric mode. use a half moon shaped wind block out of a coffee can to block breeze so you keep a good flame.
That's only a band-aid. The Dealer needs to seal both Refer housing and heater housing the way it should be. There should be no path for CO from outside to inside.

Fix the problem and no "band-aids" are needed.
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Old 04-10-2020, 12:14 PM   #13
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That's only a band-aid. The Dealer needs to seal both Refer housing and heater housing the way it should be. There should be no path for CO from outside to inside.

Fix the problem and no "band-aids" are needed.
And band-aids are a stupid approach to something that can kill people.
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Old 04-10-2020, 12:44 PM   #14
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Had the same issue with my clipper 17BH when the breeze hit the water heater side of the trailer. After about 3 trips for repair they pulled the heater and determined the butyl seal was not installed by the factory. Did not have any issues after it was reinstalled properly.
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Old 04-10-2020, 12:44 PM   #15
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I hope I never meet one of those spiders that are building flame or heat proof webs in the combustion chambers of RV furnace or Fridge.
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Old 04-10-2020, 12:52 PM   #16
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We have the same model, different year and had what sounds like the exact same problem from day one. The CO/LP alarm goes off some of the time when we are on propane, but I'm 100% sure it's from the water heater, not the fridge. I know this because we have only had the alarm go off when using the water heater on gas. When boondocking, I will only turn on the water heater when we need it but leave the fridge on continuously. (I do this to conserve gas since we don't need hot water most times of the day.)

After our first (long) trip I didn't have many dealer warranty items but that was one of them. They checked the combustion status (flame) and the seal around the heater and said both were fine. We try to stay places with hookups most of the time so this isn't a huge issue. I don't consider it a safety issue because I don't leave the heater on at night or when we're away from the trailer when it's on LP, and we have the alarm when we're there.

We have two older black labs traveling with us, and any alarm turns them into nervous wrecks. CO is sneaky and deadly so is not to be taken lightly - my next suggestion is ONLY for someone who knows that and is careful. The problem I had was that I was unable to silence the alarm that came with the trailer and the dogs would go absolutely berserk. I'm guessing some models have a mute feature like smoke alarms, maybe not. At first the only solution was to unscrew the alarm and disconnect wires, so I rigged up a switch to be able to do this instantly. I know, this is very, very dangerous so I am not recommending it. Still, it's saved me a lot of grief with a shrieking alarm going off while we open windows, turn on fans and clear out the space.

It'll be interesting to see if you're able to eliminate the problem. I've given up since the alarm goes off rarely for us based on our camping habits but it'd be great to know a permanent fix.
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Old 04-10-2020, 01:06 PM   #17
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A thought. Is there a chance that there is another point of entry for combustion gasses when wind conditions are right?

Sealed means that the water heater and refrigerator housings are essentially steel chambers that are fully sealed to prevent any air exchange between the outside and inside. A close inspection may reveal that something has come loose or there is something missing that should be an integral part of the sealed chamber.

Just to put some shape to the comment, is the point of entry for the gas line to each appliance thoroughly sealed?

As for the dealer, even if FR gets involved, you may get a half-assed repair. You'd be wise to A) demand a very specific description and full show and tell on the "repair" (to your satisfaction), and B) inspect things thoroughly yourself. If you don't have confidence in the repair, don't give up. This is a very serious problem.

If you still detect combustion gasses entering the living space, it will be time to demand replacement appliances. Both appliances have "heat exchangers" buried deep in the appliances that you'll never get to see with any reasonable inspection. Flaws in heat exchangers can lead to cracks that allow gasses to escape. Good airflow might disguise this in favorable conditions, but back-pressure from wind could push these escaping gasses into the living space.

Each appliance has its own warranty, so dig out the manuals and be sure you know what you must do to get a replacement. And be sure you can identify the bad appliance. Test by running each independently for an extended period to discover which is emitting CO.

Good luck.
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Old 04-10-2020, 01:14 PM   #18
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p.s. I forgot to mention that I've seen zero correlation between wind and the alarm going off. I haven't been looking at that variable but think I would have noticed.

Also, regarding jimmoore13's comment: "Both appliances have "heat exchangers" buried deep in the appliances that you'll never get to see with any reasonable inspection. Flaws in heat exchangers can lead to cracks that allow gasses to escape." This is true for a heat exchanger that exchanging heat between combustion gases and air that's then forced into an occupied space, like a home or RV furnace. Not the same for a fridge or water heater. The concern about a good seal is the seal between the appliance (heater or fridge) and its mounting surface. Still might be a problem but different from the heat exchanger itself.
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Old 04-10-2020, 01:19 PM   #19
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I hope I never meet one of those spiders that are building flame or heat proof webs in the combustion chambers of RV furnace or Fridge, not sure if my 45 caliber handgun would kill it or not.
Spiders in the flue is quite common as they are attracted to the odor of propane. Box elder and lady bugs are another common problem as they climb in during the fall looking for a place to stay over winter.

You need to keep them blown out with compressed air. You can get stainless wire mesh screens made to fit your furnace and water heater exhaust vents to keep the bugs out but they don't help much with spiders.

They also make stainless wire mesh screens for refrigerator vents but just save your money and use aluminum screen. Don't use fiberglass screen as if the mice can get to the vent they will chew through it. Ask how I know.
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Old 04-10-2020, 02:29 PM   #20
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Insects/spiders in hot water or refrigerator flue has exactly nothing to do with the described problem.

There's a flexible seal around the outside of the refrigerator. It's intended to prevent exhaust gases from getting into the interior living space.

Forest river fastens it to framing and/or wall covering, then they install the refrigerator. In my case, the feet on the refrigerator rolled the lower seal out, leaving a big air gap.

It is my opinion that their combined design and manufacturing techniques leave a lot of RVs with this problem.
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