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Old 09-13-2019, 11:32 AM   #1
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Propane furnace won't ignite at altitude

Hi fellow RV'ers. This is the situation: when we were at Yellowstone last year at elevation 7800' the propane furnace in our '94 Winnie Brave would not ignite. You could hear the igniter clicking but it would not light the pilot light. It had worked fine prior to that elevation and after returning home it lit fine. The only difference seemed to be elevation- it was chilly but nowhere near freezing. Stove top worked fine. I am wondering if the elevation is a red herring, or if it did affect the heating system? Could the pilot light be lit by hand? Any thoughts on this welcome.
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Old 09-13-2019, 01:18 PM   #2
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Propane has a narrow combustion range
RV LP SYSTEM is very low pressure ---11"WC (0.4psi)
LP Flow is FIXED via the system pressure AND size of orifice


Air flow is dependent on LP Flow
At altitude air is less dense which CAN result in a 'fuel rich' condition


Changing orifice size (smaller) can bring the air/fuel ratio back into 'normal' range for use at altitude BUT will not work when back down in altitude so would have to change orifice out again.


Some appliances are more prone to 'effects' of altitude.....usually water heaters.
Some MFGs even warn above effects of altitude in manuals.....above 4500' derating by 4% for evevy 1000' above sea level (derating is changing of orifice size)
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Old 09-13-2019, 01:46 PM   #3
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Have you tried cleaning the pilot light orifice and the thermo-couple (or whatever similar thing yours has)? Doesn't take a lot of buildup on the working bits to create a problem. I keep a toothbrush handy just for cleaning the pilot light pieces a few times a season.
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Old 09-13-2019, 05:05 PM   #4
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Propane furnace

Thanks, guys. Old Biscuit, I am not certain where the pilot light assembly is for the propane furnace. I know where the water heater and the fridge exterior access panels are, but don't see that there is an exterior panel for the propane heater. I do see where the exhaust piping is, but that panel is screwed in as opposed to the easy clips for removal of the water heater and fridge. That said, I am guessing that's where I am going to find the heater pilot light assembly.
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Old 09-13-2019, 05:45 PM   #5
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Do you have the manual? Should be able to get one online if not. Then your hunting will be easier.
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Old 09-13-2019, 06:10 PM   #6
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Some decent youtube videos available.

Sample:

https://youtu.be/N-zqTLjG7qA
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Old 09-13-2019, 06:22 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by bluepill View Post
Some decent youtube videos available.

Sample:

https://youtu.be/N-zqTLjG7qA


Also some discussion here:

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=46567
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Old 09-13-2019, 06:31 PM   #8
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Highly doubt you have a 'pilot' flame
Spark Electrode produces high voltage spark for ignition of MAIN Flame


W/O an external access panel then you probably have a Suburban Brand furnace.
Access is from inside...usually where the 'return air' panel is.
And furnace usually has to be pulled out of casing to work on it.
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Old 09-14-2019, 12:04 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the input, guys. I found the youtube video on the workings of the forced air furnace very informative, and the great discussion on propane appliances at altitude. I am going to wait to re-fill the tank at the RV parks that service the national parks, figure they will be both very experienced and may have a better shot at getting a winterized propane mix. BTW: fired up the propane furnace yesterday in the driveway and it worked great. Let's see how it does on our Utah trip where we will be at some 8000' in some of the parks. Happy Trails.
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Old 09-14-2019, 02:42 PM   #10
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Winterized propane????
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Old 09-16-2019, 06:45 PM   #11
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winterized propane

Well, the below is one of the threads that was referenced to me in the course of this thread. Don't know the veracity of it, just took it for face value:


I think the problems are more temperature related. There are different mixes of propane, summer and winter. Propane is actually a mix of propane and butane. Summer mix has more butane. The propane regulators are not altitude compensating (see link below). You would need to adjust the pressure setting on the regulator (not recommended). The best bet is to try to get a winter mix of propane if you are going to altitude.

http://www.documentation.emersonproc...450144t012.pdf
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Old 09-16-2019, 07:11 PM   #12
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I allways take an Electric heater for a backup when going to higher elevations, since we are from Florida...
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Old 09-19-2019, 09:42 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dukealumni View Post
Well, the below is one of the threads that was referenced to me in the course of this thread. Don't know the veracity of it, just took it for face value:


I think the problems are more temperature related. There are different mixes of propane, summer and winter. Propane is actually a mix of propane and butane. Summer mix has more butane. The propane regulators are not altitude compensating (see link below). You would need to adjust the pressure setting on the regulator (not recommended). The best bet is to try to get a winter mix of propane if you are going to altitude.

http://www.documentation.emersonproc...450144t012.pdf





Bad link.

There is no such thing as a winterized LP mix. Different mixtures are designed for different climates/regions of North America.
If you fill your LP tank in the deep South then drive to the mountains, you may experience a problem depending on temperature and LP mixture:
https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/p...ix-d_1043.html
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Old 09-20-2019, 08:24 PM   #14
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You don't change the gas flow. You have to open up the air mixture to compensate for the lower air pressure.
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