If you’re like most RVgoers, you’ve probably had the experience of your furnace shutting off after only 30 seconds of operation. This can be a real problem, especially on a cold night. There are a few possible causes for this problem, and luckily, there are also a few solutions. In this article, we’ll explore why your RV furnace might be shutting off after several seconds and what you can do to fix it.
Table of Contents
- What Could be the Problem?
- How an RV Furnace Works
- Why Does My RV Furnace Shut Off?
What Could be the Problem?
Let’s start with the good. Since you have power to your furnace, it is not likely a power issue. That means you are getting the correct power to your furnace and that the problem is likely something else, which we will explore below. You will probably not need to check the circuit breaker to troubleshoot this issue.
How an RV Furnace Works
An RV furnace uses a flame to heat up and make warm air circulate through the RV.
The flame is created by igniting a gas, such as propane, with an electric spark or igniter. The furnace will then continue heating as long as fuel, electricity and proper ventilation are available.
Why Does My RV Furnace Shut Off?
Knowing we have power to the furnace, the issue is likely the fuel source (propane), airflow, or a sensor within your furnace.
Narrowing it down to the potential components, we can now troubleshoot your problem of the gas furnace turning off.
I always try checking the fuel source when diagnosing an RV furnace issue. It sounds simple, but sometimes we could have forgotten to turn on our gas valve at the propane tank.
As mentioned above, you need a flame to keep your furnace running. Not having the gas valve open will cause your furnace blower to turn off and shut off the furnace.
After you check the gas valve is open, check to see that you have enough propane. If you run out of propane, change with a new tank before moving on below.
The furnace in your RV uses a flame sensor to detect whether or not a flame is burning in the unit. If the sensor does not detect a flame, it will shut off the furnace’s gas supply to prevent accidents.
This issue could be a bad or dirty flame sensor. This could be a faulty flame sensor if you have propane and a flame. Here are a few things you can do:
1. Check the wire connections to the sensor. Make sure they’re tight and secure.
2. Inspect the sensor itself for any dirt or debris that could be blocking the sensing element.
3. Try cleaning the sensor with a soft cloth or brush. If that doesn’t work, you may need to replace it.
RV furnaces have an igniter similar to a home furnace’s pilot light. The igniter is a small, electrically powered heating element. When the thermostat calls for heat, the igniter glows red hot and ignites the gas in the burner. The burning gas then heats the air circulated through the RV by the blower motor.
If the igniter is defective, it may not generate enough heat to ignite the gas. The pilot light can go out if there’s a draft, if it’s dirty, or if the gas supply is interrupted.
If you think your furnace igniter may be failing, there are a few things you can do to diagnose the issue. First, check the igniter for any cracks or damage. If there is any visible damage, it will need to be replaced. If there is no visible damage, try cleaning the igniter with a soft brush. If the igniter does not work, it will need to be replaced.
A thermostat is a switch that turns your furnace on and off. It has a sensing element that detects the temperature of the air around it. The thermostat will turn the furnace on when the temperature drops below a certain set point. The furnace will run until the air around the thermostat reaches the set point, at which point the thermostat will turn the furnace off again.
If you have a faulty thermostat, it could send an incorrect signal to your furnace. For example, if the thermostat is not reading the room’s correct temperature, it could signal to the furnace that it is to the set temperature and send a signal to turn it off.
First, check to see if the batteries in the thermostat are dead. If they are, replace them and see if that fixes the issue.
If the batteries are OK, then try adjusting the thermostat settings. Sometimes, it may be set to “cool” instead of “heat.”
Ever stand outside your RV and feel that blast of hot air? Or, even worse, put your camping chair up against the heater vent, which ended up melting the fabric?
This vent is critical to the furnace producing heat and the blower working correctly. Since an RV furnace is not 100% efficient, some heat is expelled and not used for actual heating inside your RV.
If this vent gets blocked and the blower gets restricted, the furnace may shut off. Check to see if you have any restrictions or debris in the vent. Critters are a common cause of this issue. It makes sense since this is a warm spot for them to make a home.
Check your vent is clear. I also suggest getting a shop vac or even compressed air if you have it. This will help clear out any obstructions that you can’t see.
In conclusion, if your RV furnace shuts off, there are several possible causes. These include the gas valve, flame sensor, thermostat, and airflow. You will need to troubleshoot each one of these to determine which is the problem. Once you have determined the problem, you can then take steps to fix it.
If your furnace is blowing cold, check out Why My RV Furnace is Blowing Cold Air.
Tony is an avid camper and RV traveler. He fell in love with camping on his first RV trip with his wife over 25 years ago. Tony loves sharing lessons learned and tips about RV maintenance and safe traveling.