Those of you that have been following our blog might remember that our Aqua-Hot system has not worked correctly in our new coach from day one. And even though Lazy Days put forth an effort to fix it, were not able to and after spending 5 months there we were not willing to hang around any longer in hope they could eventually figure it out and decided to leave and deal with the Aqua-Hot system down the road.
After contacting Aqua-Hot directly we found out there is a qualified aqua-Hot tech in the Grants Pass / Medford area. And because we knew we would be spending a couple months here we decided to have it looked at while in the area. And as it turns out he is a mobile tech which made it even more convenient for us.
For those of you that are not familiar with the Aqua-Hot system, it is heating with water. Very similar in concept to radiant heat, an Aqua-Hot system uses a flexible PEX hose distribution system to move hot water from the boiler, where it is produced, through a zonal system to where it is needed.
Heat is absorbed by the water –– circulating in a closed coil system wrapped around the boiler –– and conveyed through the distribution system. The heat is then released into the RV space through heat exchangers. Depending on the Aqua-Hot system, up to five independent heating zones are user-controllable, including an engine pre-heat loop.
The same boiler is designed to heat and deliver hot water as it is used. It supplies a continuous supply of on demand hot water with no holding tank required.
The boiler in our application is powered by either electricity or diesel depending on temps outside or if we are dry camping someplace where we can’t connect to shore power. It works fine with electricity until temperatures dip in the low 40’s then the diesel portion of the system is pretty much required.
We really like the even and moist heat it provides. Much better than the propane furnace we had in the last rig. And we don’t have to deal with propane (even though there is a propane version of the system available).
But like anything else, it’s only a good system if it is working properly.
This post may get boring from here on to those that don’t have or have no interest in the Aqua-Hot system. You are now forewarned LOL!!
Here is what our system symptoms were with just the diesel burner switch on (the system works perfect on electric):
… When I flip on the burner switch inside the light on the switch goes on as well as the Burner Status on the control board.
… I then turn on hot water to create demand and Pump #2 and #3 lights up on the board and the low temp goes out.
… Motor kicks in to prime and the heating status light goes on on the board and the burner kicks on for just a few seconds and then goes out and the light on the switch inside goes out.
… I flip the switch inside off and back on and the switch light goes back on and the burner will fire, puts out a couple seconds of smoke and continues running. Now and again it will puff a little smoke for about 2 seconds but mainly runs clean.
… Once the hot water demand has been satisfied a slight puff of smoke will happen when the burner shuts down and the motor will run until it cools down.
… The light on the switch inside will stay on and the system will sit idle until a demand is created again and the whole process starts over again.
It was frustrating that Lazy Days was not able to correct the problem even though they did try a number of fixes before we decided to move on. But we have crossed that bridge and it is in our rearview mirror and will not dwell on that.
So we will move on with what we are doing in the present to get it fixed. And will hope that either Aqua-Hot, Lazy Days or Tiffin will stand up and take care of whatever cost is involved in doing so. If we were willing to stay at Lazy Days for who knows how much longer to get it fixed we know we would have paid nothing out of pocket. But after 5 months their dealing with buying this coach and the need to get back to Grants Pass for Dr. appointments we just had to take our chances and leave.
We were willing to deal with the imperfection in the system because we knew we were not going to spend any time in cold areas where the diesel portion of the system would be needed. And if by chance we did need to use the diesel side we knew how to work around it with just a couple switches of, well the switch. Even though it would be a hassle if we needed to use it for heat during the night.
Now on to the fix, or at least the attempt.
We contacted Michael (The RV Doctor) who is a mobile RV repair person that services southern Oregon and told him about how the system was acting and made arrangements for him to come to our RV site and have a look. I will say that we mad the appointment for 8:30 am and he was at our site at 8:30 sharp!! I’m a stickler for being on time so in my mind he was already off on a good foot LOL!!
After our introductions I set the system up to recreate its issues. And it did not disappoint me and acted just like it always did. It wasn’t one of those times where we couldn’t make it act up once we had a repair person present to witness it. I’m sure we have all had that happen at one time or another LOL!!
I was happy to hear that Mike had contacted Aqua-Hot directly after our initial phone conversation and described the symptoms and they in return gave suggestions of what might be the problem.
I wasn’t so happy to hear that all of the information I shared with Aqua-Hot was not readily available when Mike called. With today’s technology it should have been in a system so any of their techs could pull it up and see what has already been tried. On the other hand I figured what the heck, a new set of eye’s and hands working on the system and basically starting from scratch might be better in the long run. Unless of course we end up paying the bill. Then the extra time spend isn’t such a good thing.
Mike jumped right in and started working with no wasted time. He switched out a control box, took out the burner and checked the spray from the nozzle, checked the fuel flow through the tubes, checked the electronic eye and also the igniter spark as well as a couple other things. And had Aqua-Hot on the phone describing what was going on a couple times during the process. And each time he checked or changed something we would test the system to see if anything changed.
The only thing that looked suspicious was the igniter. It works like a spark plug and the gap between the two prongs were a bit far apart so he adjusted that. In my mind it made no sense that it could be the culprit because the way the system acted was way to routine to be a spark issue. If it was the igniter I would think it not light at all and be more random. And the system always fired and them shut down and always fired on the second try and stayed running but I guess stranger things have happened.
Anyway for some reason the system started to work and we ran the system through its steps about 4 times and it worked as it should each time except for a little extra smoke upon igniting than it should have. Aqua-Hot said it may take 10 or 15 starts for any access gunk that might have built up over time of it not working correctly before it would run clean. I thought OK,, I’ll bite and see what happens LOL!!
Regardless the system seemed to be working. And Aqua-Hot said they would not cover the repair cost because it was an adjustment issue so I paid Mike his $75 service call plus 3 hours of work time bringing the bill to $270 and figured I would go to Tiffin and Lazy Days for reimbursement.
Mike also said if the system acted up to give him a call and he would return because he stands behind his work. Perfect. We said our so-longs and away he went.
I decided to leave the system on in the diesel operating mode and continue on normally to see how it would perform. About 45 min. later Diane decided to do dishes and when the system had a hot water demand and the system was called upon what do you think happened?? It went right back to its problematic ways!!! Nooooooo!
So I called Mike and told him of the problem. HE was busy the remainder of the day and the next but said he would call Thursday and set up a time to come back which was fine with us.
I figured what the heck, I would keep running the system on the diesel mode to see what would happen and it now seems to be hit and miss. At times it will start and run as it should but the next time it my act up again. So it’s better but not fixed.
I will keep you posted on what happens next. And so not to turn this into a longer update we won’t go into everything else we have been doing but really it has been more of the same. Just selling things off and taking care of little things that need to be done.
We are hoping after next week things will be calmed down and we can have some fun time before lifting Jacks and heading to Portland for 2 weeks. I NEED TO GET OUT FOR A MOTORCYCLE RIDE LOL!!! We have been WAY to busy. Way too much like work.