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Old 04-15-2012, 11:00 AM   #1
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Growing Pains

Well, just finished up nights 5-6 in the new A-frame. My attachment with the camper has grown even stronger. I still can't believe we are out of the tent and have to pinch myself every now and then to believe it.

We did have one hiccup that I remember someone else on the forum referring to in another post somewhere. I tried using the furnace for the first time (got down to the upper 30's) and the smoke alarm was not feeling the love. I tried twice to run it only to be greeted with the alarm each time. I figured some of the oil burning off of the new furnace was the cause but it was too late in the night to season it. I had not packed sleeping bags for my son and I either so it made for a chilly night. I ended up covering him up with a bunch of coats and we survived...just not the luxury sleeping experience I was expecting.

Soooooo....did anybody have a similar experience when first using their furnace and what is there a specific procedure for this situation. Thanks!

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Old 04-15-2012, 11:16 AM   #2
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Take the battery out of the smoke alarm. Works every time. Actually I ran mine at home, after we got the camper, with the doors and windows open. I also do this in the spring, when I DE-winterize the camper, just to make sure.
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Old 04-15-2012, 11:37 AM   #3
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Take the battery out of the smoke alarm. Works every time. Actually I ran mine at home, after we got the camper, with the doors and windows open. I also do this in the spring, when I DE-winterize the camper, just to make sure.
Yes, removing the smoke alarm battery crossed my mind...but then again, I didn't want my son and I to be huffing smoke in an enclosed camper so I decided against it. We are new at this so I played it safe. How long did you run yours when you got it home?

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Old 04-15-2012, 03:05 PM   #4
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Hi LM,
First, sounds like a pretty good shakedown cruise. This stuff happens.

since it's new, though, your dealer should have run the heater before your inspection. You did get a PDI, right?

But to your question. You can run the heater until you get rid of the oily metal smell. How long depends a little but you won't hurt the heater if this takes a couple of hours. You'll use up some propane of course but that is to be expected.

Good luck.
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Old 04-15-2012, 03:18 PM   #5
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the PDI should have mentioned that this is common to new furnaces.
our RV tech told us to make sure we ran the furnace with windows/vents open, before we went camping in it.

it's a pretty standard thing with RVs.
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Old 04-15-2012, 03:29 PM   #6
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Sleeping bags can come in handy for low temps. Some people find it easier to use sleeping bags than making up the bed every time. My cousin & her hubby sleeps on top on opened one with another sleeping bag over them like a blanket.

I keep a sleeping bag in my trailer in case of an emergency or freezing night (heater or not).
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Old 04-15-2012, 07:51 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone. I ran the furnace for about an hour with all the windows and the door open. I imagine that any fumes given off at this point are safe. I'm going to perform a little smoke alarm test in the driveway tomorrow morning and see how it goes.

As far as the PDI goes...could have been one of those things they just overlooked but checked the box anyway. The tech who did my walk through was not the one who performed the PDI but it would have been nice to have been given that little tid-bit. Maybe I should just go get my tip back from him..lol. I'm sure it won't be the last thing I have to figure out the hard way....but I'm learning more every trip. It's like RV bootcamp...are we havin' fun yet! Thanks again everyone.

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Old 04-15-2012, 08:53 PM   #8
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I had a similar experience and (think I) posted here regarding it. It was quite the alarming experience (pun intended). We wanted to make sure the heater was good to go if the Cool Cat quit working (because it got too cold). Fired it up and beeeeeeeeeep, beeeeeeeeeeeep........... scramble for the detector to remove the battery. . . shake head from ringing of the ears.....

Off hand I don't recall if we 'burned it off' after getting home or not. I do recall giving it about 20 or 30 minutes of use on a cold Nov. morning later in last season after it was too cold for the cool cat to run. I removed the battery before firing it up (since it was morning and we were up). I put the battery in later an no alarm.

I'd open the camper up and run for 15 or 20 minutes at home and you should be good to go. It's quite the experience for a new camper person - I freaked
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Old 04-16-2012, 03:00 PM   #9
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I had a similar experience and (think I) posted here regarding it. It was quite the alarming experience (pun intended). We wanted to make sure the heater was good to go if the Cool Cat quit working (because it got too cold). Fired it up and beeeeeeeeeep, beeeeeeeeeeeep........... scramble for the detector to remove the battery. . . shake head from ringing of the ears.....

Off hand I don't recall if we 'burned it off' after getting home or not. I do recall giving it about 20 or 30 minutes of use on a cold Nov. morning later in last season after it was too cold for the cool cat to run. I removed the battery before firing it up (since it was morning and we were up). I put the battery in later an no alarm.

I'd open the camper up and run for 15 or 20 minutes at home and you should be good to go. It's quite the experience for a new camper person - I freaked
Yes, must have been your post I was reading...I couldn't recall. Since you mentioned it, how cold is too cold to run the cool-cat? Thanks

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Old 04-16-2012, 04:19 PM   #10
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The manual states the unit will heat down to 40* F (+/- 2*). On the trip in November we discovered on our unit, the minimum temperature was about 38* F. The unit would kick on at 36 or 37 degrees and the compressor would run for a minute or so (maybe less) then you would hear the compressor cut off - the fan would continue to run.

Your unit may be different, and humidity and altitude could play into the equation. I would say figure if lows are going to 40* F plan on having a backup for long periods of time below 40* F. In our case it was only the last hour of the night that was an issue. We woke to the fan running (no compressor) and I cycled it off and waited a bit before cycling back on only to hear the compressor kick off after a short bit. I'm trying to recall the exact temperature but I seem to recall 36 or 37* F. We fired up the gas heater for a while that morning but only because the sun wasn't up high enough to help warm the camper and knock the chill off and we were ready to get out of bed and make coffee
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Old 04-16-2012, 05:42 PM   #11
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The manual states the unit will heat down to 40* F (+/- 2*). On the trip in November we discovered on our unit, the minimum temperature was about 38* F. The unit would kick on at 36 or 37 degrees and the compressor would run for a minute or so (maybe less) then you would hear the compressor cut off - the fan would continue to run.

Your unit may be different, and humidity and altitude could play into the equation. I would say figure if lows are going to 40* F plan on having a backup for long periods of time below 40* F. In our case it was only the last hour of the night that was an issue. We woke to the fan running (no compressor) and I cycled it off and waited a bit before cycling back on only to hear the compressor kick off after a short bit. I'm trying to recall the exact temperature but I seem to recall 36 or 37* F. We fired up the gas heater for a while that morning but only because the sun wasn't up high enough to help warm the camper and knock the chill off and we were ready to get out of bed and make coffee
Thanks. You know, I might could have run the cool cat with the generator the other night...it was right there in that upper 30's-40 deg. range. I think the hypothermia must have affected my critical reasoning abilities. I plan on doing a good bit of freezing temps camping this fall so I've got to master the furnace life. Do you know if they recommend ventilating (say the magic fan) while running the furnace or is it ok to button everything up and sleep with furnace heat?

I know...new "Senior Member" status with junior member questions..oh well.

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Old 04-16-2012, 06:16 PM   #12
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Our Coldcat kicked off somewhere around 40 degrees. The fan kept running and we slept on, not knowing the difference. After some time we woke up because it was freezing cold. Bless his heart, Gary got up and switched on a small electric heater positioned on the top of the closed cook stove. Before long it warmed us right up.

I don't think it is mandatory to do any venting, while using the gas furnace, if it is operating correctly. We never have in any of our past campers. However, if it makes you feel safer, crack open the vent lid about a 1/2 inch.

Deb

ps, Put the coffee pot together the night before, that way you can just flip it on when you get up.
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Old 04-16-2012, 06:49 PM   #13
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Venting helps a bit with condensation, as propane heat tends to give off a lot of moisture. Venting will keep you from getting drips and frost on the inside windows and walls.
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:36 PM   #14
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Venting helps a bit with condensation, as propane heat tends to give off a lot of moisture. Venting will keep you from getting drips and frost on the inside windows and walls.
The propane heaters in these campers are forced air heat exchangers. No Moisture (from combustion) will be added to your camper. All flue gasses are expelled out the side of the camper (silver plate on drivers side). They operate much like gas furnaces in the home.

I wouldn't vent the camper since you'll just be venting the heat you are making ( and letting in cold fresh air). If there is any carbon monoxide the detector (if you got that option) will alert you. If you want an added layer of safety get a separate stand alone CO detector.
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:38 PM   #15
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I'll add that in a small camper like the AFrames, your respiration will put a fair amount of moisture into the air, so that can cause condensation inside the camper, especially in cooler temps where the walls may be cooler than the inside air temp..
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:41 PM   #16
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We use a space heater in place of the furnace when we are in campgrounds that supply electric. It's less expensive, plus we found the propane to be really noisy (minus the blaring smoke alarm)!
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:42 PM   #17
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My bad jeep4two, you're right about the furnace design, I still vent however for the reasons I stated, we did one trip locked up airtight and I'd rather not do that again. Most of the time I'm not ultra concerned about losing a bit of heat in return for a more comfortable level of humidity.
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:47 PM   #18
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My bad jeep4two, you're right about the furnace design, I still vent however for the reasons I stated, we did one trip locked up airtight and I'd rather not do that again. Most of the time I'm not ultra concerned about losing a bit of heat in return for a more comfortable level of humidity.
Humidity is the key. If your relative humidity gets above the 70% mark in a small camper it does get sticky and changing the air would provide relieve. Our experience in cold camping has been limited but the few trips so far were nice without too niche humidity with the heat pump or furnace.

Setting the fantastic fan on low and cracking the galley side window might be worthwhile should it get sticky.
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:49 PM   #19
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Now we're cooking with gas (pun intended)...this is some serious banter going about now...lots to be gleamed from this discussion.
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:53 PM   #20
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Venting helps a bit with condensation, as propane heat tends to give off a lot of moisture. Venting will keep you from getting drips and frost on the inside windows and walls.
How much do you vent?..like crack the roof fan cover?

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