How to Prepare Your RV Furnace for Use

Ingrid FeaginRV Tech Tips

Welcome to another Todd’s Two Minute Tech Tip Tuesday, brought to you by the National RV Training Academy. The only academy that gives you the credentials to become a certified tech and/or inspector. 

Winter is coming up and there are some things you need to do before you turn on your furnace so let’s set the scene and cover that:

You’ve been RVing all summer and during that time you have insects. The thing about insects is they love the smell of propane so much so, they like to build nests anywhere they can smell it. The prime target is going to be your primary burn chamber for you furnace. It’s open to the outside elements and most of them have 1 or 2 inch holes. Most of you will have dauber screens which will prevent a lot of insects from coming in but I do need alert you that the manufacturers of furnaces will void the warranty should you have a dauber screen. If you don’t have one on you need to make sure that tube is clear as possible. 

Here are some steps that you need to do before you turn on your furnace. If you don’t do these steps it’s going to be too late because if you turn your furnace on beforehand and it’s cold outside, it’s not going to work. 

The first thing you want to do is make sure your burn chamber is clear. Now there is a couple things that we can do and it’s not completely foolproof but take a flashlight so you can see if there’s any obstructions in there. The whole goal is to make sure there’s no insects and/or no nests inside the burn chamber. If you have a shop-vac, you can try sucking out whatever’s in there. 

The second thing you need to do is take that shop-vac and go find where that furnace is inside the RV. What I want you to do is take the shop-vac and clean behind the furnace. Your furnace is going to extract a lot of dirt and dust and it sits around the furnace. You’ll find out that your furnace does not have a filter and if it doesn’t have a filter around the furnace you’ll notice that all of that stuff gets on the squirrel cage fan and will cause problems. So now we want to clean the area, also make sure the burn chamber is clean. The next thing you want to do is make sure your burner assembly is clean and clear. On most furnaces that’s actually stored inside the furnace. If you have any access where propane mixes with air and it’s on the outside of the RV, you want to make sure that’s all clear as well. So what we’re looking for is no obstructions, clean and clear inside the furnace as much as you can but around the furnace.

Lastly what we want you to do is turn on your furnace. It’s been all Spring and Summer since you used it so the best time to check your furnace to see if there are any potential problems is when you don’t need it. Turn on your propane, put your thermostat on furnace, and crank the temperature up. Make sure you get the click, click, tick, boom. Wait until you have good burn and you want to watch the outside to make sure you have no carbon build up. If you have no smoke then you know your burn chamber is clean. If you have smoke, call a technician. That means you have some type of obstruction in there and if you can’t see it, it’s around the corner. A technician will have to be called in order to get that cleaned out.  

If you need a technician, the best place to find one is associated with the RVTAA (RV Technician Association of America) and you can find can find one by going to RVTAA.ORG/LOCATE

We want you to be prepared so go ahead and test your furnace now. Don’t wait until you have to fix your furnace in the winter. 

And that’s your Tech Tip.