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Old 05-08-2013, 02:31 PM   #1
CascadeWalnut's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 80
Espar D5 issues and resolution

Sometime around the middle of December 2012 I started to notice that antifreeze was slowly accumulating below my Espar D5 when I was parked at home and at work. My grandfather has a Sprinter Sportsmobile and had his Espar worked on by a guy named Jim Rixen in Sandy Oregon.

We brought our rig into him and they couldn't really tell what was causing the issue, but did notice that we had barely any antifreeze in the system. Originally, they thought there was a problem with how Sportsmobile routed the system to the engine. Jim installs a number of these units using a much more efficient closed system. I thought that the antifreeze was the only problem, but the unit itself was not functioning, all the times I thought it was running it was actually just pumping warm air from the engine.

After a day of working on it they were pretty confident they had fixed the issue, we paid them and went home. However, we had to bring it back a week later with the same antifreeze and non-functioning issues. This time they worked 2-3 days on it replaced some parts, and did not charge us a dime. Jim and his nephew are true professionals, they stand behind their products and their work and we truly appreciate them for this.

Fast forward a couple of months and we were still noticing accumulation of antifreeze under our van. The Espar is working fine (as far as we can tell), but I am still having to add antifreeze to the system every once in a while. Call up Jim and he says bring it in. It takes about 30 minutes for us to locate the source of the antifreeze drip, it wasn't any clamps, or hoses. Jim put an air hose to a tiny "bleeder hole" on the side of the unit and antifreeze immediately started coming out of an other "bleeder hole."

You can see the two "bleeder holes" in this picture (on either side of a threaded hole, which is not my unit but one that Jim had in his shop.

I leave for a walk and to grab some lunch, and when I get back an hour or so later they had found the source of the leak. Previously the antifreeze leak had been so bad that it had caused the unit to malfunction, on recent trips to the shop they had identified and fixed the symptoms of the problem but had missed the source.

These pictures show the problem. Once they had it out on the work bench they were able to apply pressure to the system, and found that antifreeze was leaking from the place where the sensor at the end of the blue wire was attached. Once removed it is easy to see that the blue wire sensor is missing the same coating that is seen on the red wired sensor.

Jim and his nephew were at a disagreement for how this happened. One of them thought that they both started out in the same condition, but somehow just one had its protective coated degraded over time. The other thought that it was probably installed that way (factory defect), and it was a slow leak over two years that eventually caused the Espar to stop functioning. At any rate they took parts off of a brand new unit to fix the problem, and I am sitting here three months later with a perfectly running Espar D5.

I am writing this for two reasons, first off as a reference incase anybody else runs into similar issues to check these two sensors. Second to document my appreciation for Rixen's Enterprises. Jim has vast knowledge of these units and is an all around great human being. Through this whole experience Jim only charged us the initial visit which was two hours of labor, he made some adjustments to the Espar so it runs more efficiently and offered suggestions for future upgrades.

Thank you everyone for reading, here is Jim's contact information. A great resource especially for those SMB owners in the Portland Oregon area.

Rixens Enterprises Inc
37600 Ruben Lane
Sandy, OR 97055
(503) 668-6090
(800) 925-6260


2009 Modified RB21 E350 4X4 6.0L Diesel
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Old 05-08-2013, 03:28 PM   #2
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: Southern New Mexico
Posts: 8,975
Re: Espar D5 issues and resolution

Always nice to see people post postive experiences, and not just negative ones. Kudos to Rixens for their relentless detective work.


SMB-less as of 02/04/2012. Our savings account is richer, but our adventures are poorer.
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Old 01-13-2017, 03:08 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 242
Talked with Rixen's today about their system, and I'm really impressed with it. Any feedback or thoughts you have on it now that's it's up and running? I've read that people think the fans are loud, and install a PWM dial to have the ability to control the fan speed other than high/low.

Something that never crossed my mind was that you can use 120v power for it and bypass the D5. I knew you could do this for hot water, but it never connected for me that it's not exclusively hot water but also heat. One of our concerns is keeping the water tanks warm when it's in storage for the week. Our RV storage bay has a plugin, and this would allow us to use the electric heater on the glycol reservoir to keep the van at a reasonable temp without using the D5.
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Old 11-18-2017, 05:41 PM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Everywhere
Posts: 5
I am noticing a leak from a bleeder also on my less than a year old ATW from SMW.
Still functional for now. Will have to get this fixed before it fails.
Matt, Maricela & Talon

2014 Toyota Tacoma Expedition
2015 All Terrain Warrior
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