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Old 11-13-2017, 03:29 PM   #1
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Seneca Block Heater

As winter approaches and the temps are falling here in WV, I started doing some research on using the block heater. I found that many recommended you to use the block heater for a minimum of 2 hours before any start in ambient temps less than 50; overnight is recommended in colder temps.

The reason many sources suggested this is because the oils is thicker at these low temps (synthetic would be better) and therefore increases wear in the initial minutes of startup.

Now, the conundrum is, I was told in my initial walk through NEVER to leave the block heater plugged in for more than 30 min or it will overheat and be damaged. In another life, I worked on big air compressors powered by Cummins N14 and 3406 Cat for snow making and we had them plugged in continuously. We did need to remember to shut heater off when we started the engine to prevent overheating, and that makes sense.

At what temps do you feel it's important to use the block heater prior to start?

Is there a maximum duration you can leave it plugged in for?

Thank you all for the input.
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Old 11-13-2017, 03:55 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by McGintys924 View Post

Now, the conundrum is, I was told in my initial walk through NEVER to leave the block heater plugged in for more than 30 min or it will overheat and be damaged.
Never heard that one before. Used to leave my KODIAK SENECA (Duramax) plugged in overnight before a trip without issue.
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Old 11-13-2017, 04:45 PM   #3
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I don't know about seneca's but around these parts, lots of people have them. Some people plug in when they get home, and unplug when they leave. I use to use a timer, and set it to turn on 2-4 hours, before I had to leave. If it was really cold, I set it for more time.
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Old 11-13-2017, 05:33 PM   #4
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Up here where it gets so cold that we have to break the dogs of the fire hydrant's and thaw them out inside, block heaters are not only the norm but a necessity on diesel's. When I was a fleet manager for a major trucking company we plugged in block heaters and we also installed oil pan heaters just to get the oil to the top of the motor quicker. Synthetic oil is good but it's still easier on the whole engine if you can get instant oil pressure circulating, gord
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Old 11-13-2017, 09:39 PM   #5
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50 deg is pretty warm to use heater. Block heater doesn't heat oil much. Intake heater on our engines start them pretty cold.

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Old 11-14-2017, 04:37 AM   #6
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Only using a block heater for 30 minutes is a complete waste, thereís no time to heat the coolant. 2-4 hours is ideal. I leave my old Cummins 12v with no glow plugs or intake heater plugged in all night. On my Ford 6.7 I rarely bother plugging in until itís going to get below 15 or 20 as it cold starts so easy.

That being said, youíre just giving money to the electric co. to plug in at 50. I feel even 32 is pushing it. And while you will get some minor lubricity gains thatís not the primary effect. All that oil is sitting in the oil pan at the bottom of the motor surrounded by thin sheet metal that doesnít get heated. A block heater heats the coolant in the enginesí water jacket, so it provides some indirect intake heating and makes for much faster warm-up times, but only minor oil heating, mostly on the small quantity of oil still coating the rotating assembly.


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Old 11-14-2017, 05:53 AM   #7
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30 Minutes? Once again "Lawyer Speak" to reduce liability. I don't really believe the manufacturer cares whether you get your engine started or not, unless it hurts their marketing ability to sell more units. They just don't want the liability.

Use common sense and you'll be fine. Of course, the common disclaimer of responsibility comes with me saying this.
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Old 11-14-2017, 06:29 AM   #8
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On another note, I have snow removal equipment staged on sites and we leave them plugged in 24/7 when not in use. The only detriment is to the life of the block heater element.


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Old 11-14-2017, 08:35 AM   #9
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I normally plug mine up about 2-3 hours before we depart any time it's lower than 40.

My rule of thumb is if the furnace is on at night, the block heater gets plugged in in the morning. -I've found ours is a bit grumpy (it starts just fine but is audibly disgruntled...) unless she gets her warm-up period. -Then it's 20 min of mid to high speed idling, then we pull out.
Normally, after the block heater / idle my water is up over 130 F and trans will be approaching 80F if not surpassed it.
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Old 11-14-2017, 09:15 AM   #10
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I normally plug mine up about 2-3 hours before we depart any time it's lower than 40.
So the heater connection is the grounded male port beneath the driver's door just ahead of the battery access cover?
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Old 11-14-2017, 09:43 AM   #11
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So the heater connection is the grounded male port beneath the driver's door just ahead of the battery access cover?
Yes, that's it.
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Old 11-14-2017, 10:53 AM   #12
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So the heater connection is the grounded male port beneath the driver's door just ahead of the battery access cover?
Correct!
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