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How to Troubleshoot a Travel Trailer Gas Furnace

by Sarah Shelton

Understanding how your gas furnace works will help you diagnose problems. The blower motor turns on after receiving a message from the thermostat. The motor runs for 15 to 30 seconds, then the pilot light or direct spark system ignites the burner to heat the air. The blower propels this warm air into your RV. After reaching the set temperature, the furnace turns off in the opposite order. To troubleshoot a problem with your travel trailer gas furnace, first rule out simpler problems.

Check your thermostat setting. It must be set warmer than room temperature for the furnace to start. Many RVs also have an On/Off switch on the top or side of the thermostat. Check this switch to make sure that it is set to "On." The furnace should start 10 to 15 seconds after you have turned it on.

Test the charge in your batteries if the fan doesn't start and there is no heat. A furnace can operate using the 12-volt batteries, but will not be able to turn on if the battery power is insufficient.

Check the propane level in your tanks. The furnace blower may be able to start, but there will be no heat coming out because there is no gas to ignite the burner. A tank with very little gas or an issue in the gas line can lead to low gas pressure. This will result in no heat from the furnace or lack of a constant pilot light. Do not allow your furnace to start until this problem has been resolved, or your blower motor will run unnecessarily on high and wear itself down.

Look inside the furnace at the pilot light, if applicable, and make sure it's staying on. Many new RV furnaces have replaced the pilot light with a direct spark ignition system. If your furnace is struggling to keep the pilot light lit, check the thermocouple to make sure it's positioned correctly. A malfunctioning regulator on your propane tank could also result in an irregular pilot light.

Consult with an RV technician if none of these steps uncovers the problem. The issue is likely within the furnace assembly. Parts such as the sail switch, limit switch, blower motor, circuit board or burner assembly can all cause problems, but should be replaced only by a qualified technician.

Warning

  • Always be cautious when working around the gas and electrical components of a travel trailer gas furnace.

About the Author

Getting hands dirty is just part of the fun for Sarah Shelton, who draws on personal experience to write home and garden, automotive and travel articles. Her pieces have appeared on ConsumerSearch.com, USA TODAY, Dremel.com and other websites. Shelton received a bachelor's degree from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado and currently lives in southern Oregon.

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