Propane furnace safety - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-05-2014, 11:39 AM   #15
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Timely thread for me. Planning a Nov trip & debating whether to get the furnace going. I've never used any furnace in any RV before, so kind of scares me. Will definitely have it checked by a pro first! Once I do, I like the suggestion to fire it up regularly as a maintenance item. Will install smoke detector & CO detector. Byron, where would I look for the bug screen? RV store? Are they specific to each furnace?
Any RV store should carry them. There's at least two different styles. One like I pictured that covers both intake and exhaust ports. The other major style is two round pieces one for the intake and the other for exhaust ports.

Either will work. I chose the larger rectangle guy so that I only had one piece to deal with.
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Old 09-05-2014, 11:45 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
Timely thread for me. Planning a Nov trip & debating whether to get the furnace going. I've never used any furnace in any RV before, so kind of scares me. Will definitely have it checked by a pro first! Once I do, I like the suggestion to fire it up regularly as a maintenance item. Will install smoke detector & CO detector. Byron, where would I look for the bug screen? RV store? Are they specific to each furnace?
An RV furnace is not a lot different than a home forced air gas furnace. If you look around you you'll see thousands of RVs almost if not all have a gas (propane) furnace and they are used.

I haven't camped in AZ in November, but been there is January, February, and March. I don't remember spending a night any of those months in AZ where the furnace didn't run. I set the thermostat for 55 at night then up to about 65 in the morning. Cooking breakfast and making coffee heats the trailer up more. I wouldn't want to travel even to Death Valley and AZ without my furnace working.
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Old 09-05-2014, 12:19 PM   #17
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An RV furnace is not a lot different than a home forced air gas furnace. If you look around you you'll see thousands of RVs almost if not all have a gas (propane) furnace and they are used.
I keep telling myself that. But my forced air furnace at home is not in my bedroom! Donna's comment about using propane appliances regularly got me thinking… even if I never use it, it would be nice, should I ever sell the trailer, to be able to say confidently that the furnace works and to have receipts showing professional maintenance. And who knows… I might find I use it more once I master its operation.

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Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
I haven't camped in AZ in November, but been there is January, February, and March. I don't remember spending a night any of those months in AZ where the furnace didn't run. I set the thermostat for 55 at night then up to about 65 in the morning. Cooking breakfast and making coffee heats the trailer up more. I wouldn't want to travel even to Death Valley and AZ without my furnace working.
We've done AZ deserts in winter without a furnace. Chilly in the morning, but warms up quickly. This year we are planning to explore the Central Coast of CA the week before Thanksgiving and spend a few days in the Big Sur area. Looks like it will likely be damp as well as cool, so thought it might be time to think about getting the furnace going.

Thanks for your input on this thread!
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Old 09-05-2014, 12:42 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post


We've done AZ deserts in winter without a furnace. Chilly in the morning, but warms up quickly. This year we are planning to explore the Central Coast of CA the week before Thanksgiving and spend a few days in the Big Sur area. Looks like it will likely be damp as well as cool, so thought it might be time to think about getting the furnace going.

Thanks for your input on this thread!
Last December we drove down CA 1 from Monterrey south. It was very very dry. Fire index was extreme, so I don't think you'll have to worry about moisture, if that's any indication of what to expect this year. From long range forecasts it like it will be dry again. Surprising since it's right along the ocean. In Oregon it gets wet along the coast, drizzle much of the time at night.

We didn't find much in the way of camping along there. There was one or two state parks way way above the ocean. Beaches simply were not accessible, at least where we were. We headed for Bakers Field and across to Bullhead City as soon as we could. Good and I hope you enjoy your trip.
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Old 09-05-2014, 12:59 PM   #19
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Last December we drove down CA 1 from Monterrey south. It was very very dry. Fire index was extreme, so I don't think you'll have to worry about moisture, if that's any indication of what to expect this year. From long range forecasts it like it will be dry again. Surprising since it's right along the ocean. In Oregon it gets wet along the coast, drizzle much of the time at night.

We didn't find much in the way of camping along there. There was one or two state parks way way above the ocean. Beaches simply were not accessible, at least where we were. We headed for Bakers Field and across to Bullhead City as soon as we could. Good and I hope you enjoy your trip.
Thanks, Byron. I'm looking into some suggestions from forum members here: CA Central Coast Recommendations?

Thinking to spend a couple of days near Pismo Beach (for the butterflies) and a couple of days at Big Sur (mainly for the redwoods, which my daughters are anxious to see). Disappointed to hear about the possible dry winter… I'm not particularly fond of camping in the rain, but California needs it badly, and I'd rather experience the area in its misty, foggy glory!

Now back to our regular programming...
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Old 09-13-2014, 09:50 PM   #20
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IIRC boats with propane appliances use propane detectors. Propane, unlike natural gas, is heavier than air and a leak will fill up the hull. The danger is not (?) from breathing it but explosions. Are trailers leaky enough for the gas to escape in the event of a leak? A boat that'll let the propane escape is already sinking! If propane detectors are called for they belong near the floor for obvious reasons.

Continuing to run my mouth without knowing what I'm talking about, I'd say that a propane detector does not obviate a CO detector. A propane furnace with less than complete combustion could still kill with CO.

As this is all new to me I'd appreciate any comments and criticism.
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Old 09-13-2014, 11:05 PM   #21
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IIRC boats with propane appliances use propane detectors. Propane, unlike natural gas, is heavier than air and a leak will fill up the hull. The danger is not (?) from breathing it but explosions. Are trailers leaky enough for the gas to escape in the event of a leak? A boat that'll let the propane escape is already sinking! If propane detectors are called for they belong near the floor for obvious reasons.

Continuing to run my mouth without knowing what I'm talking about, I'd say that a propane detector does not obviate a CO detector. A propane furnace with less than complete combustion could still kill with CO.

As this is all new to me I'd appreciate any comments and criticism.

Look around you and see how many RVs are on the road, lots of them. How many are in storage places, lots. All those RVs have a propane furnace or vast majority do. How many houses have propane furnaces, a pretty large number. Look around for propane tanks in back yards.

My point is that if it wasn't safe it have to change to be safe with as many as there are out there.

Now that said, there are some things you can do to be a bit more sure of your safety. A propane detector is good idea, located close to the floor. Because you camp next other campers and have a stove cook surface a CO detector can provide a bit more feeling of being safe. Keep some air flowing through the trailer, day and night. Furnace inspection to make sure there's no leaks in the fire box and inspection of all propane connections.

Where I live there's "mud dobbers", wasps that build mud nests. To prevent them from doing that in the exhaust or air intake for the fire box I bought a special screen to keep them out. I say special because it's made for that purpose and to NOT restrict air flow.

Now relax and enjoy the comforts of propane heat.
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Old 09-14-2014, 05:01 AM   #22
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EXLNT answer Byron.
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Old 09-14-2014, 07:07 AM   #23
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Jon, this is the other style flying insect screen Byron referred to. They are a real pest up here in IL too. This style comes with a little installation tool. It's a two minute job. On sale at CW.

Flying Insect Screen for Duo-therm, Suburban and Durotherm Furnaces - Camco 42141 - Insect Control - Camping World

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Old 09-14-2014, 12:28 PM   #24
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I personally would not own a trailer that did not have a built in propane furnace or a fridge that ran on propane. I would not want to give up the flexibility of being able to camp for days on end without the need for a generator. Yup I have solar on my trailer but it doesnt work out to well on overcast days with lots of tree coverage.

Yes one needs to be sure the propane system is inspected regularly (just like your home furnace) and that you have a propane and CO detectors that actually work & that you replace them every few years. Just like the smoke and CO detectors you have in your home. I may have less of a fear about using propane due to having spent my life growing up in homes with either oil, propane or natural gas furnaces. Any combustion system in a home can and will produce CO if not properly maintained and vented just as is the case in an RV.

Having said that and after rereading the OP's original question I admit I would be very reluctant to use a propane furnace that had been in a trailer since 1974 no matter how good it looks & even if I had a CO detector. Just as I would have concerns for my safety and that of my families with running a 40 year old gas furnace in my home.

There are old RV propane furnaces out there that are not safe to use due to rust or lack of adequate venting in their original design & as a result they are no longer made. As a number of old Boler owners here in BC have discovered there are qualified repair people who will not touch the old furnaces with the poor venting other than to pull them out and replace them with a newer safer designed furnace.

If I was the OP I would as other suggest take the trailer to a qualified/certified party (not the neighbour who has had lots of old trailers he has fixed up) and listen carefully to what they say about the furnace & its safe use.

IMO CO is as they say a silent killer & not something worth taking a risk with just to save a couple of hundred dollars by not buying a newer safer designed furnace.
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