Don’t Install A Heater Fan Like This!

This story goes again under the category of how to turn a small task into a big one.

We have an old hydronic heater, running with gas. Last summer I had to fight with it several times. I didn’t manage to get it working and thus warming up the boat. I was thinking of changing the heater to a new one, probably to some model running with diesel.

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Siphoning some liquids out of the heater…

During the winter I was on a lecture about servicing your heater. The course was held by Nalle, from his service company, Nallen venehuolto. After the course I talked with him and we agreed that after the weather gets warmer he comes by and we’ll figure out what to do. The weather got warmer and he came.

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Hydronic heater fan.

We went through options on replacing the heating system. The smartest thing to do would be to keep the current hydronic warmer with it’s already installed radiators. And only change the heater for a more modern one. We got an offer for a new heater with all the neccecery gear with it. We pondered on the offer and came quickly to the conclusion that we can’t afford it. And on the other hand, we are heading to the warm waters, so our primary need for a warmer is to get the boat and our gear dry.

But something needs to be done anyways. I ended up taking Nalles’s tip on making the hydronic warming more efficient by adding a fan to it. Actually we were sparring our thoughts about putting it to the toilet in order to make it a drying cabinet. Currently the heater’s exhaust pipe goes in the toilet and it warms up the toilet anyways. So I decided to install the fan to the saloon.

Installing the heater fan.

I bought the fan. There was no manual with the device, nor could I find one from the manufacture’s web page. Well, that hasn’t bothered before either. Installing the device went pretty neatly and fast, cause I had invested in the most expensive tools ever (mainly for getting off the old anti-slip covers).

The heater fan at it’s place.

The electrics were working and the fan was blowing, but the air didn’t get any warmer even after the heater had been on for a while. It didn’t take long for the heater to start messing with me. It started turning itself off, as it did during the previous summer. Goddamn. And as the gas heater is 30 years old, it wasn’t easy to find any instructions from online. I figured installing the fan had inserted air in the system and thus hindering the water circulation. I went through every place, but wasn’t able to find an air vent. (All this information and fault search takes of course several nights of trial and error.)

Night before we were heading for our summer holiday sailing (one month at the sea), the exhaust pipe for the heater broke. Again, 30 years old heater and it wasn’t easy to even figure out the product name. Googling in a hurry and driving around the various potential shops was a sure way to spend a few hours. We found a pipe that could be used as a replacement, but nothing changed. Except our leaving out delayed and everyone’s nerves got tense.

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After a surprising thunder storm in Klaipeda, a working heater would have been nice…

Summer holiday ends and I can’t solve the problem. Luckily it was a warm and dry summer! 🙂

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Overheating protection is found! =)

After the holiday I start looking for the fault again. Again all the same things. Online forums for the caravan people got familiar. I found a way to reset the overheating protection. A bit same kind of a fuse that you have with electricity. So the heater is starting. But it keeps on overheating and the water is boiling in the hose near the heater. Obviously the boat has been turned upside down a few times to find the air vent. (Radiators go around the boat, with the hoses beneath the benches, which are full of stuff in and out that need to be moved…)

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Cheers!

I decide to change places of the hoses on the fan, from one pipe to another. The water (glycol) is spraying out of the hose as I take it off. But nothing comes from the heater fan. –> Water is not circulating at all! This has been impossible to know, cause the heater has heated up fast, turning itself off. And at the same time liquid has been bursting out of the expansion tank. (I’ve had my share of the glycol as I’ve siphoned it out… Not too good taste, I must say!)

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Can that rubber ring on all those product pictures really be a plug?!

A terrible thought crosses my mind, can that rubber ring on all those product pictures really be a plug? I’m pulling the hoses off. Now already with a mind filled with rage. Fckfckfckfck! It’s a plug!!!! How can it be! And how come the idea never crossed my mind when I installed it! No wonder the liquid is not circulating and they keep on boiling next to the heater and the heater overheats!

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RUBBER PLUG!

Because of the RUBBER PLUGS, the hoses were attached so well that they required a lot of force to come off. And that I had now that I was filled with rage. The whole machine popped off, as well as the electric wires and the liquids were spraying all over. Well…that’s nothing in this bankruptcy.

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The whole device comes off and the electric wires fall apart, but the hose is stubbornly on.

I took the plugs off, installed the electrics and reinstalled everything. Little drying and more liquids back to the heater. Fingers crossed, hope it still works. Press play… And it works! I must admit, that felt good! Finally! I was still a little, or not that little, upset about all the hours wasted on this. Many beautiful nights was spent on this nonsense. But on the other hand, I did learn a lot from old heaters and how they work. And most of all, I didn’t give up.

The major lesson on this was still the fact that usually the fault is behind the easiest explanation, especially if it’s behind some difficult or otherwise troublesome task. This time the hoses were so badly stuck that in the end I needed a knife to get them off and after that everything was all over on glycol. And I just couldn’t believe that all the product pictures of the device would have been taken with plugs on it! It’s the same as if iPhone product pics would be with a package on or something as silly as that. Ofcourse, anyone who has once installed a heater fan like this, might have seen it on the first glimpse.

So will I, the next time. 🙂

 

-Jussi

 

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