A functioning RV furnace can provide sufficient heat in the mobile living space, especially for winter camping. But what could be wrong if an RV furnace fails to work? We researched the possible causes of an RV furnace not kicking on and here’s what we found.
Some of the possible reasons why an RV furnace doesn’t work are:
- Low gas supply
- Low battery power
- Insufficient airflow
- Faulty limit switch
- Damaged ignitor
- Broken blower motor
It’s ideal to use the appropriate course of action based on the underlying issue to avoid costly mistakes during RV furnace repair and/or replacement operations. Continue reading as we talk about these potential causes of an RV furnace to fail in greater detail.
Why Is My RV Furnace Not Kicking On?
An RV furnace that fails to supply comfortable heat or refuses to ignite may have underlying problems. The possible sources of these issues might include (but aren’t limited to):
Low Gas Supply
Some furnaces use gas to deliver comfortable temperatures to RV interiors. But the appliance may fail to kick on if the connected propane tank doesn’t have fuel to burn. Learn more about what happens when an RV furnace runs out of propane by reading our post on that subject matter.
Low Battery Power
Aside from gas RV furnaces, some of these heating systems use electricity from the camping vehicle’s battery. If so, an electric RV furnace may not provide adequate heating if the battery can’t provide adequate power.
Air intake clogs can block the heated air from escaping the RV furnace. Dirt, leaves, pests, and other relatively small debris are some examples that restrict the furnace's proper airflow. Some extreme cases may exist wherein the blockage is too dense that the appliance fails to ignite.
Faulty Limit Switch
A limit switch in an RV furnace functions by stopping the appliance’s fan blower upon reaching the desired temperature. Other issues, such as a faulty gas valve or low pressure from the connected gas tank, may also lead to damaging the limit switch and stopping the appliance from working properly.
An RV furnace ignitor is the component that transforms gas or fuel into heat. Normally, a clicking sound will emanate from the heating unit to signify that a flame is now present and ready to deliver comfy temperatures.
However, a faulty ignitor may not create an audible ‘click,’ which might also result in the unit’s inability to supply heat to the RV.
Broken Blower Motor
Typical wear and tear can wear down an RV furnace’s blower motor over time. Keep in mind that this part is one of the essential components of this heating system. So if this element acquires serious damage and breaks, the furnace will most likely cease most if not all of its functions.
Don’t forget to read our post on the possible reasons why an RV furnace doesn’t ignite for you to gain additional knowledge on this topic.
How To Repair RV Furnace Not Igniting?
Make sure to only use the appropriate method to repair an RV furnace that's not igniting. Don't tinker with the appliance more than necessary. Doing so might increase the risk of damaging the unit further.
Also, some procedures may require a certain level of confidence and expertise to complete. RV users that deem themselves to be lacking in those departments may consult the help of specialized technicians for expert assistance.
Moving forward, RV owners will find some potential solutions on how to fix their RV furnaces that don’t start in this section:
Connect a New Propane Tank
If a gas tank can’t provide adequate fuel to the RV furnace, replacing the propane tank with a fresh model may restore the heating unit’s functionality. The following are the steps to connect a new external gas tank in a camping vehicle:
What You’ll Need
- Extend-a-stay propane adapter kit
- Extension hose (optional)
- Hook up the extend-a-stay propane adapter kit according to the product's instructions.
- Connect the extend-a-stay’s hose to the exterior propane tank. Attach an extension hose to complete the assembly if needed.
If the propane tank runs at the same water column range as the RV's gas tank, it might be best to remove the regulator. Otherwise, the gas flow will have to go through two regulating modules, which will result in the furnace not acquiring a sufficient amount of fuel to supply adequate heat.
Keep in mind that RVs often have unique designs and structures. That means that the location of some components, such as the service valve, might be in a different place when compared to other campers. Consult the vehicle owner’s manual or contact the RV’s manufacturer for help to find the site of these components if needed.
The video below will also tackle extra nuances for this task, particularly on possible modifications to the propane tank setup for certain heating situations:
Also, the following video will show additional details about connecting a propane tank to an RV:
Charge the RV Battery
Take note that an RV furnace that runs on battery power from the vehicle's onboard battery needs sufficient voltage to run. Thankfully, different battery-charging procedures are available.
But ensure that the charging method used is compatible with the type of battery in the RV. Using the wrong procedure may result in serious and perhaps irreparable damage to the battery, the furnace, or both units.
Some of these methods to charge an RV battery are:
With the RV’s Alternator
Connect a towed trailer to the RV's alternator using a 7-way trailer-to-tow connection. It’s not ideal to use a 4-pin connection for this setup. It’s because a 4-pin wire may only provide enough power for the vehicles’ running lights.
With a Solar Battery Charger
Solar chargers can be ideal choices for restoring power to RV batteries. Some models will also have a trickle charge, which restores power to batteries at a slower rate than normal. Perhaps the main benefit of this feature is that it can help extend the battery’s lifespan with minimal risk of experiencing a power surge.
How Do You Reset An RV Furnace?
Generally, resetting an RV furnace to restore some (or all) of its functions may only require users to turn it off for a few minutes before turning it on again. If that method doesn’t work, locating and pressing the reset button on the heating system might remove the problems encountered by the unit.
What Are Some RV Furnace Problems?
Aside from a complete shutdown and failure to start, some RV furnaces may also experience some relatively common issues. Some potential problems are:
Blow Motor is Running But No Heat
Usually, an RV furnace’s blower motor will generate a mild hum while it’s running. But some instances may occur wherein the motor functions, but the appliance doesn’t generate heat. If so, this problem may come from a bad wire or blown fuse. A blower motor replacement might be necessary in some worst-case scenarios.
Pilot Light Fails to Ignite
Gas RV furnaces typically have pilot lights that provide heat to the camper’s interiors. If this flame is absent, the appliance won’t serve its purpose. The source of this issue may come from:
- A blown fuse
- Incorrect pressure
- Faulty wires connected to the thermostat
- Low voltage from the connected battery
Sometimes the pilot light is present but the furnace still fails to provide sufficient heat. If so, RV users should check the color of the pilot flame. The light should be blue with little to no yellow. Something is amiss with the flame if it shows a different color than the ones mentioned.
Automatic Yet Frequent Power Cycling
A faulty thermostat might be the main cause of an RV furnace turning on and off frequently. Perhaps the best way to handle this issue is to replace the thermostat, particularly with an identical model. That way, users may not deal with extra setup procedures.
It’s still possible to install another thermostat model to connect to the RV’s furnace. But it’s important to ensure that the new temperature-regulating device is compatible with the heating system.
The problem with an RV furnace not working might come from certain underlying conditions. Some examples include a low gas supply, an insufficient voltage from the RV battery, or an airflow blockage. Use an appropriate solution based on the core concern to reduce the risks of expensive mishaps.