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Old 07-15-2008, 02:03 PM   #1
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Espar Heater Problems

After nearly a year of happy ownership, things are starting to decline.

My Espar Diesel furnace is malfunctioning. I blows cold until the dreaded "F" code appears on the display. I talked to Bernie at SMB West and he said to remove the fuse and reset the system a few times. What a pain in the ass!! When I pull the fuse, the display is still on and the fan still runs for a few minutes! How can that be? Finally it turns off and I insert the fuse to see the display flash and I press the red button twice and in a few minutes the fan is still blowing cold, but now there is white smoke pouring out of the little heater exhaust pipe, and no heat from the vent. Then, again the F code appears and I repeat the entire process. Still, it never works properly. How many times must I go through this? I never let the fuel level drop below 1/4 when I use the unit.
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Old 07-15-2008, 03:07 PM   #2
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OK, apparently, there is not enough fuel reaching the furnace. Under, I can see the black rubber hose from the fuel tank going to a T splitter, with one line going directly to the Hydronic unit and the other line splits again and goes through two electromechanical units of some type before rejoining into one line going to the Airtronic unit. What are those two valve type of units?
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Old 07-15-2008, 06:24 PM   #3
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There's some previous posts on this somewhere. I had the same problem and had to install a new glow plug in the unit itself. Cured the problem and was told it was related to fuel additives.
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Old 07-15-2008, 07:00 PM   #4
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Jeffrey,

Is there any periodic maintenance on the unit (like running it 15 minutes every month) to prevent sediment buildup or fuel degradation?


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Old 07-15-2008, 07:30 PM   #5
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Herb,

As I remember the instructions suggest running it every month for a short period of time as well as replacing the glow plug and a screen in the combustion chamber annually. I supose that depends on how much it is used.

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Old 07-15-2008, 10:18 PM   #6
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After numerous phone calls to SMB today, they say it is air in the fuel line due to lack of use and low fuel levels. The little pumps that are in-line aren't strong enough to self prime the unit, so I was told to keep starting the furnace all day until finally the fuel would reach the burner. After spending hours doing that (instead of getting any real work done at work) it still is nonfunctional. I'm now waiting to fill the tank so the increased fuel pressure might help out. I know, I'm dreaming.....
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Old 07-16-2008, 09:15 PM   #7
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Jeffrey,

Sorry to hear you're having problems with your Espar Airtronic.

First, there has to be another fuse that should be removed to reset the fault code.

Next, I have seen on more than one occasion the fuel line "sucking" air because of a loose connection. You should have three "tee" or "Y" fittings, one that splits the fuel supply to the Hydronic and Airtronic system, one that splits the fuel supply to the two fuel pumps (one pump is low altitude, the other is high altitude), and one on the outlet side of the fuel pumps going to the Airtronic unit. Make sure all the clamps are snug.

An easy way to test the fuel delivery system to the Airtronic is to replace the existing fuel inlet line at the "Y" fitting before the pump, with a small clear line about 12" long. Place the end of the fuel line into a very small container of diesel fuel that is elevated to the same level as the fuel pumps. Turn "on" the Airtronic and see if fuel is being drawn into the small clear fuel line when the pump is operating ("ticking"). If the Airtronic works good with this temporary line, then the problem is between the tank pick-up and the pumps. If it doesn't make any difference, then it could be an internal issue with the Airtronic, and more testing needs to be done.

Feel free to email me if you have specific concerns.

Good luck,

John K.
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Old 07-16-2008, 11:42 PM   #8
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Thanks so much, John. I'll try that this weekend.

Report to follow.
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Old 07-17-2008, 09:37 AM   #9
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Jeffrey, the only other thing I can think of is that allegedly using fuel additives can cause problems with the Espar units. However, I doubt that is the case based on what you have described. Best of luck, I don't envy you.
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Old 08-24-2008, 11:07 AM   #10
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Hi Gang, I've been working on this regularly since I first posted. None of anything we talked about worked or was the problem. I talked to SMB, John K, and Greg at Lubrication Specialists in Indiana (an Espar repair center) for weeks about this. I replaced the controller on the unit. I replaced the glowplug and screen. I spent too many hours farting around with the fuel lines and pumps (yecchh). Finally, I had to remove the unit itself from the van, not a fun job on a RB-50 plan. I sent it and the two pumps to Indiana, and got the report today. The unit was FULL OF SAND! Can you friggin' believe this?!?!? It turns out that when Sportsmobile did the install, they oriented the end of the 1" diameter black air intake hose to point UP when they mounted it to the sheet metal under the van right near the rear tire. This allowed LOTS of sand and fine dust from driving dirt roads to enter the opening and settle inside the intake hose, waiting for the heater to start up so it all could be sucked into the combustion chamber. Pretty brilliant, huh? Fortunately, it was an easy fix for Greg, and he got it cleaned and running in short order. So now I have to completely re-install the heater, and its intake and exhaust tubes (after a thorough cleaning!), the electrical connections, and the fuel connections, and then rebuild the little white house that it lives in under the closet in the van.

My solution? Extend the air intake tube closer to the side of the van so I can access it. I will then cap off the opening at all times other than when using the heater, which is only while camped. I thought about a foam filter, but that would still allow the very fine dust to get through. Greg did not recommend this, as the slightest restriction to the flow of air could be disruptive to the operation of the unit. He liked the cap idea.

I'm doing this to my Hydronic unit as well. I use that far less.

Espar Airtronic owners take note!
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