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Old 08-28-2020, 09:06 PM   #1
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Furnace Intermittent...Now Dead

I'm still out camping, and off the grid with no service for a few more days. Just in range to get some supplies...

My furnace, a Dometic, ducted air model, has worked well. On this trip it became intermittent. Now it won't work at all.

Symptoms:
Thermostat triggers circulation fan...a normal step 1.
But the furnace won't fire.
After about 30 seconds, the system "faults" and the circulation fan shuts down.
Furthermore, to get the circulation fan to come on again, I must first turn the thermostat all the way down, then re-trigger the call for heat.
Rinse and repeat. No go.

My sense is that the "spark" is not igniting the "pilot" light that then signals the valve to open and ignite the burner. A simple electrical problem that may be provoked by the hellishly rough road into my favorite campground. Literally, a wire could have come loose. But that's a hunch.

I opened up the cabinet, pulled the converter/fuse panel and poked about a bit, but this is not something to tackle as a "field repair."

If anyone has experienced a similar problem and can suggest a fix, I can't part with the unit to bring it to the dealer. I have 4 more reservations before October.

Any hunch...especially a DIY hunch...would be appreciated.

Also, AM I SAFE IN ASSUMING that the two screws that hold the accessible side of the furnace cabinet are all that hold it? I'm hoping the "far side" of the cabinet is retained by some tabs thru some brackets or some such arrangement that allows me to remove the two accessible screws, disconnect the propane line, and slide the furnace cabinet out of the wooden cabinetry that houses it.

All help appreciated. I'll be back in a few days to get to work on it.
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Old 08-28-2020, 09:26 PM   #2
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It's possible the sail switch isn't activating. The T-stat starts the blower, which in turn activates the sail switch. If that goes well, the sail switch tells the gas valve to open, and the igniter lights the propane.

Once the t-stat starts the blower, it gets 3 tries to ignite before shutting down, and yes, you have to manually start the process again with the t-stat. That's why I'm guessing it may be the sail switch malfunctioning. Sometimes they get caked up with dust, or they just fail completely.
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Old 08-28-2020, 09:52 PM   #3
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I would check the sail switch...this video shows where it is. Pull it out carefully and check for any debris at the contact.
https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j...69X-gFcw44dTtB
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Old 08-29-2020, 10:07 AM   #4
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Guessing you check to make sure your not out of propane?
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Old 08-29-2020, 03:04 PM   #5
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Have you tried to turn the thermostat to off wait a few and then turn the furnace back on?

I had one run out if propane, switched tanks, and it wouldn't fire up until I "reset" the furnace.
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Old 08-30-2020, 09:11 PM   #6
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I had no idea about a "sail switch." Great info.

I'll add another hazard to the welfare of a sail switch...the road to our favorite site is "hellish" as mentioned in my request for help.

Definition of hellish: 11 miles of gravel washboard as much as 6 to 8 inches high and potholes like a bombing range. I may discover a broken sail switch or one that has come loose from its moorings. Not to mention the dust that infiltrates the cabin and gets pumped throughout the furnace. And then there are two dogs.

Anyway, you've given me a great lead...and one I'd not heard of. Thanks.

Any thoughts on how difficult it will be to remove the furnace "box" from its wooden cabinet home? I see two screws at the base of the metal box, and I'm presuming (a bad idea) that once these are removed, I should be able to slide it out from the wood cabinet after I remove the ducts and disconnect the propane line. Does that seem reasonable?
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Old 08-30-2020, 09:31 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by BCx213 View Post
I would check the sail switch...this video shows where it is. Pull it out carefully and check for any debris at the contact.
https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j...69X-gFcw44dTtB
VERY helpful video.
Will attempt a DIY repair.
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Old 08-31-2020, 03:14 PM   #8
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From what I understand (I have not had any personal furnace issues so far) from reading on here, there is a reset button on the furnace itself. If you search here you will find posts outlining this. You have to access the furnace itself and it's somewhere on the unit.
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Old 08-31-2020, 03:18 PM   #9
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I watched the video and it shows the reset switch on the furnace.
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Old 09-01-2020, 07:56 AM   #10
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Happy - Warm - Camper

At 6'6" and 250# and 71 years of age, I don't fit well anywhere, so it was a bit of a contortionist nightmare, but success! We're hot stuff again.

1. Pulled the furnace;
2. Checked and cleaned the sail switch. Didn't seem very dirty...not dirty at all...but used canned air to blow it out (such as I could) and blow off the surfaces. Checked continuity with a multimeter and confirmed switching on and off;
3. Operated the "Reset/On-Off" switch somewhat compulsively...perhaps 10 times;
4. Wiggled all connectors to verify solid contact - and inspected for any that might have come adrift. No issues there.

My hunch? Maybe the reset switch, but with the blower motor running, that doesn't make a lot of sense either.

As I prepped for the job - moving stuff on the floor and such - I noticed a surprising amount of dog hair and fine dust on the floor. Two Chihuahuas accompany us on our trips, and they shed quite a bit. And then there's the hellish road.

So, it could be "any of the above". I'm just happy the shotgun approach worked.

Sidebar: our rig came with a funky thermostat that has a separate on/off switch. This switch is SO stubborn that I have been leaving it on. This means that on cold mornings like today, the furnace runs a bit despite the temp setting being at the lowest. I went out this morning and was pleased to hear the furnace running!

Thanks All!! :trink39:
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Old 09-01-2020, 02:07 PM   #11
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That's great news! Hopefully that'll be the last time you have to tackle that job, but just look at all the experience you have with furnaces now! Thank you for posting the positive outcome!
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Old 09-22-2020, 10:46 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BCx213 View Post
I would check the sail switch...this video shows where it is. Pull it out carefully and check for any debris at the contact.
https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j...69X-gFcw44dTtB
This is exactly what I needed to see!, THANK YOU!! The Jay Flight 32TSBH in the video has nearly the identical furnace location / set-up as my 2019 31QBDS, so this is perfect.

My Dometic furnace decided to quit last weekend too... Same symptoms, fan runs for about 15 seconds or so then the system shuts down, have to use the T-stat to re-start. I am running on full propane tank, inside stove runs fine. I also tried resetting using the switch on the top of the furnace with no luck.

Hopefully I can tackle this DIY project in next few days, this forum has been great in so many ways!
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Old 09-26-2020, 03:29 PM   #13
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Well I finally got a chance to pull out the furnace today. When I took the sail switch out it did not look all that bad, but I blew it off with the compressed air anyway. Put everything back together and the furnace works again! I took a chance and did not take the exhaust pipe out from the outside of the unit in the video. I was able to line the furnace back up and put back in place. Guess I got lucky.

Thanks again for the video above!! Helped a lot!

Click image for larger version

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Cheers

Duke
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Old 12-08-2020, 12:29 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke_26 View Post
Well I finally got a chance to pull out the furnace today. When I took the sail switch out it did not look all that bad, but I blew it off with the compressed air anyway. Put everything back together and the furnace works again! I took a chance and did not take the exhaust pipe out from the outside of the unit in the video. I was able to line the furnace back up and put back in place. Guess I got lucky.

Thanks again for the video above!! Helped a lot!

Attachment 63972

Cheers

Duke
Glad it worked for you! Nice to hear of a good outcome.
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Old 12-08-2020, 08:10 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BCx213 View Post
I would check the sail switch...this video shows where it is. Pull it out carefully and check for any debris at the contact.
https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j...69X-gFcw44dTtB
Just a FYI:

The video link references a Dometic sail switch part #33063 for the 2018 Jay Flight 32TSBH Dometic-Atwood furnace "model" in question.

Be advised there are different sail switch part numbers for different Dometic-Atwood "model" furnaces....., the sail switch paddle design/configuration can very.

Also, the Atwood (Dometic-Atwood) Technical Installation Manual (Effective 8/15) that came with my 2018 Jay Flight 24RBS Dometic-Atwood furnace listed the incorrect sail switch part number. I had to contact Dometic-Atwood directly for the correct sail switch part number.

Bob
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