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Old 10-01-2017, 10:12 PM   #1
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Engine block heater

I was in Happy Valley this weekend for the Penn State game and the temperature approached 34 degrees. When is it necessary to plug in the engine block heater? At what temperature? How long should I wait before starting the engine?
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Old 10-02-2017, 12:33 AM   #2
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I don't plug in the heater until it's going to drop below 10 or less. The grid heater in the intake is usually enough to fire off the diesel fuel, the block heater keeps the crankcase oil from preventing slow cranking when starting.

A block heater should be turned on 6 or more hours before starting, overnight is a good idea.
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Old 10-02-2017, 06:26 AM   #3
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We had a really cold snap last winter before taking our rig to fla. It may have been ten degrees our or so maybe colder. Went to fire her up and followed usual procedure. Little slow cranking but whamo she lit right off. So I am not saying you need or don't need a block heater..... My 87 international doesn't have any glow plugs or grid heater, good ole ether is what she takes when cold. I don't like using either though. If I know I am firing her up in the frigid temps I plug it in. Any hour is sufficient to heat the coolant in the block for a nice easy start. Also it doesn't hurt a thing to leave it plugged in all night either. I am just happy my coach started in such a cold snap as now I know she is good to go if I can't get her plugged in.
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Old 10-02-2017, 08:00 AM   #4
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The block heater is in the cooling system water jacket channel of the engine and keeps the coolant warm. Generally, turn it on when you will be using MH in cold weather helps warm up engine faster. I would not leave it on all the time.

When you turn on the key the grid heater activates (1000 watts) to warm the intake temp. I find that turning the key off and then back on will reactivate the grid heater. doing so help get the intake warm and the engine will start easier. I also find that having a good reserve in the starting batteries help to crank the engine faster when cold. I use to AGM's.

grid and block
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Old 10-02-2017, 10:04 AM   #5
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On our Newmar Essex with 500 ISM we use the block heater any time it hit the 50's when on 50 AMP service. It helps to start engine, better to start a warm engine from the stand point of engine wear and the engine warms up quicker to put to work. There are trucking companies who connect their block heaters ever night before leaving the lot. Other then electric use what are the problems?
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Old 10-02-2017, 06:12 PM   #6
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electric heating elements of any type have a life. The are nothing more than a resistor getting hot. Then there is the problem of what if they get a hole and the power is now hot on the MH. Replacement is not easy in some cases.

When I lived 40 miles north of Syracuse NY we used oil heaters. but we had temps of -25.
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Old 10-02-2017, 07:19 PM   #7
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electric heating elements of any type have a life. The are nothing more than a resistor getting hot. Then there is the problem of what if they get a hole and the power is now hot on the MH. Replacement is not easy in some cases.

When I lived 40 miles north of Syracuse NY we used oil heaters. but we had temps of -25.
I have seen a few burned out block heaters but not many. If the plug has a ground terminal and is plugged into a properly grounded receptacle or extension cord the shorted heater should trip a breaker before making the MH "hot". I have never seen a vehicle become "hot" from a burnt out heater.
I have three diesel tractors. All have block heaters on the engines. I have left the heater plugged in for days at a time on the tractor I use for snow blowing even when it is in my garage. I do this for two reasons. First, I want the oil to be warmed before I start the engine. It gets pumped instantly to the bearings, cylinder walls and upper valve train components. Secondly, the exhaust when starting is much cleaner and doesn't smoke up my garage.
Just because the engine heater is in the coolant doesn't mean the heat doesn't radiate throughout the whole cast iron block. It does and warms the oil.
Most modern diesels will start in cold conditions with the glow plug and pre- heater systems they use today. This is not as large a concern to me as preventing dry starts where oil is not flowing freely within the internal moving parts.
If anyone doesn't understand my thinking I will challenge them to do this:
Pour a few ounces of 15W-40 diesel oil into three separate paper cups. Place one cup in the freezer, one in the refrigerator and leave one out at room temperature. Let the cups sit overnight in their respective places. The next morning empty the cup you take out of the freezer into a disposable bowl. Then empty the cup out of the refrigerator into the bowl. Lastly empty the cup which had been sitting in room temperature into the bowl.
Which cup of oil would you want inside your expensive diesel engine when you first started it?
These heaters cost only pennies to run. Diesel engine parts cost thousands of dollars. You decide!
Lynn
BTW, I live 60 miles north of Syracuse NY.
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Old 10-02-2017, 07:44 PM   #8
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I usually plug my diesels in when the temp is going below 10 degrees. About 2 to 4 hrs is all that's needed . You don't want to plug in if the weather is too warm as the block heater element will reach temperatures high enough to start breaking down the antifreeze.
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Old 10-02-2017, 07:55 PM   #9
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You don't want to plug in if the weather is too warm as the block heater element will reach temperatures high enough to start breaking down the antifreeze.
There is one I have NEVER heard before!
With today's thermostats opening at 195 deg. in a lot of applications and cooling fans coming on at 220 deg. antifreeze breakdown is unheard of.
No engine heater I have ever seen would heat coolant to those numbers.
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Old 10-02-2017, 07:56 PM   #10
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Something that will help your diesel crank over is using a quality synthetic motor oil. Less wear and tear not only on the engine, but the starter and batteries.
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Old 10-02-2017, 08:23 PM   #11
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Have been using our engine block heater which has a pump on heater now for over 5 years and still working great. Have used block heater at least 1500 hours in the last 5 years and I think I paid less then 45$ for unit. Also have Cummins engine heater that goes engine coolant plug as a back up if the other one ever stops working. The hardest thing on a engine is a cold start for wear.
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Old 10-02-2017, 09:12 PM   #12
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Engine block heater

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...the block heater element will reach temperatures high enough to start breaking down the antifreeze.
Absolute Nonsense.

The engine runs at 180 to 210 degrees depending on conditions. I have never seen the block heater get the engine any warmer than 120 or so, even when I left it on overnight on a 55 degree night.
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Old 10-02-2017, 10:04 PM   #13
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Something that will help your diesel crank over is using a quality synthetic motor oil. Less wear and tear not only on the engine, but the starter and batteries.
Bingo!!! - and help with fuel economy and stretch oilchange intervals (still need to change your filters!)
We experience -40 deg and below temperatures not every winter but every so often, I've seen -48 more than once.
When you leave an ice cream pail full of dino oil outside it will turn into hard butter, imagine what that would look like inside the crankcase, but synthetics will keep their viscosity. We had block heaters on everything, a coolant heater on the rad and 2 block heaters in the oil pan of the big trucks with the cummins and the 4wd tractors, the only thing here is you can put no more than 2 on a single breaker and with a 100' extension cable running across the shed 1 is all a cord can handle.
We never plugged anything in and just left it, we'd be broke now if we did, 2 - 4 hours would do the trick and only when the temps dropped below 5 deg. F or -15C. I still follow the same principle now with my truck. I think there are not that many places in the lower 48 that even need a block heater on the engine - okay, you can hate me now .
In super cold weather we sometimes left the engines idling over night cause the batteries (2x12 Volt in series) wouldn't have the oomph needed to crank the motor in the morning.
Back in the old days we covered the equipment with a tarp, put a kerosene heater underneath for a couple of hours and prayed it wouldn't burn down, don't try this with your motorhome .
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Old 10-03-2017, 06:46 AM   #14
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I have seen a few burned out block heaters but not many. If the plug has a ground terminal and is plugged into a properly grounded receptacle or extension cord the shorted heater should trip a breaker before making the MH "hot". I have never seen a vehicle become "hot" from a burnt out heater.
.
My is burned out right now and I can not get it out. tried and tried but not go. to get to it have to remove filter and other stuff. I agree about the lube. Nice to have warm oil. Not all extension cords have a good ground pin or even have one. Although a hot chassis is rare happening it does happen. Now that we are living in FL and try to stay a way from cold we don't need the block heater.
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