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HVAC, Air Conditioners, Aqua Hot, Primus, Webasto, Chassis Heaters, Furnaces and Water Heaters Questions and information about the wide variety of Heating and Air Conditioning as well as Water Heater systems available are discussed here.

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  #1  
Old 01-07-2009
Lee Davis's Avatar
Lee Davis Lee Davis is offline
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Default Getting Inside an Aquahot?

Because of the Aquahot coolant leak I mentioned in another thread I rented a radiator pressure tester to see if I could find it. Unfortunately even though I added a little distilled water to make sure I was above the leak, when I tried to pump it up to 13 lbs it wouldn’t hold the pressure. While doing that I couldn’t see anything leaking over the tray with the cover off. Those mostly seem to be water lines anyway. So I assume it is leaking inside and I’m wondering how to get in there to check. Do you just drill out the rivets going up the side and over the top of that cover? Does that give access or are there other fasteners someplace (other than the bolts and screws holding the AH to the floor)

My AH is relatively easy to get to considering some I’ve seen, it sits parallel to the bay door and here is a link to the pictures of it with the big cover on the left off.
http://eelsivad.smugmug.com/gallery/7039077_BsBWd
I have cleaned the local Wal-Mart out of paper towels trying to soak up the leakage. Much of it ran out the hole where the exhaust pipe goes out through the floor. I assume some of those lines are coolant lines behind the diesel burner, but I didn’t see any active leaks there, best I could tell. So what’s next? I assume take off that other riveted cover, see what’s there, and check for leaks again. Since the tank is under that part, I hope it will be easy to see the coolant lines around it or whatever. I don’t have coolant leaking into my water supply and coming out the faucets, so if lines are inside the tank, those must still be OK.
Does this make sense?
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Lee and Jacque Davis - Full Timers

Lee - 423-292-5767 or Jacque 423-262-9569
or lnjdavis@gmail.com Please call or email instead of private messages


1995 BMC 37
300 HP Cummins 6CTA 8.3 Turbocharged Diesel
Boldly Going Nowhere
http://www.bbirdmaps.com/index.cfm #117
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  #2  
Old 01-07-2009
fxdwg fxdwg is offline
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Default

Well "Eel Sivad" (sounds Hungarian or something, doesn't it??!!!)-

You do just drill out the rivets to get to the guts. I think the thermostat kit actually had 2 replacement ones that were intended to replace the 2 that had to be drilled to get to the junction box. At least all your connections are fairly simple to undo, what with the 2 hose clamps and the screw together fittings. Everything should go back fairly easily. Depending on what you're seeing, I might consider taking the unit out completely. The hoses with hose clamps should be antifreeze lines, which for small lines like these I use a pair of needle nose vicegrips to MILDLY clamp the hose to prevent leaking. It won't take much pressure to stop outflow. The brass to plastic screw fittings will be your cold water in/hot water out (as marked by the arrows). These will be easy to shut off with the plastic shut off valves right there (though one -the input- is missing it's knob). Then you'll still have cold water and engine abilities, just no hot water. Remember to turn off the hot water breaker at your main panel!! Jacque doesn't want your hair straight! :-) The toughest things to get to may be any floor bolts at the rear of the unit. You've got the 2 right there on the front, but may need to get under the coach to release the probable 2 in the rear. I'll bet those "L" brackets are installed before the AH unit is set in place, so you may not be able to take out the screws going into the unit, but have to remove the floor screws.

Okay, so assuming you've now got the AH on the floor, just run a piece of heater hose from one antifreeze pipe to the other (the 2 outer connections) and clamp them. Pressurize as before and see what you've got. It sounds like it's a big enough leak, that you may only have to get the outer cover off and you'll be able to see the leak without pressurizing it.

Then fix away!!!
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  #3  
Old 01-08-2009
pgchd
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The two lines at the "bottom under the burner are the lines from your engine for preheat, etc. The 3 motors on the back of the unit are the zone circulators for the heating zones,etc. in the coach. If you tried to pressure test the "tank" and it started pushing fluid out, then you probably do have a leak in the coils and need to take the cover off where the rivets are. Just do yourself a favor first and make sure you cannot see any leakage around those lines and ciculators.....use a mirror and an LED flashlight I'd hate to see you do so much work only for a leak around one of the zone circulator feeds with a pex band, etc...........good luck! (from one with "mature eyesight" as well hoping for an optimistic outcome)
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  #4  
Old 01-08-2009
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Lee Davis Lee Davis is offline
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Default Inside the Aquahot

OK, dumb questions. I see all those pumps which circulate liquid through the zones and the valve handles for each zone (all handles open). I thought what was circulating was hot water heated by the Aquahot, not coolant) So it actually circulates coolant around those zones for the interior heating (I do not have chassis heating, I just have fans under the couch, coming out a hole under the closet in the bedroom, under the cabinet in the kitchen, etc.))? So when I turn on the themostat, the pump starts circulating coolant and the fan comes on blowing what will be hot air past those coils or whatever, or do the pumps circulate coolant all the time when the vqalve is open and only the fan comes on and off with the thermostats inside?

As you can see, I don't really understand how this heating system works (ignorance was bliss) but now am trying to figure out what is actually going on.

I have been running the AH on electric to get hot water (for showers, dishes, etc.). I assume that's fine for actual hot water but won't give me heat if coolant is what's doing that (since mine has leaked out). (I haven't been trying for inside heat with it so I have been assuming it is OK to use electric for hot water and won't hurt anything)?

OK, this note is a little disjointed (I type as I think sometimes) so maybe you folks can make some sense out of what I am trying to learn here.

And, John, "Eel Sivad" is not Hungarian. It's just a handy User ID I can remember easily and use often. It sounds a lot better than Nhoj Ecam. That sounds like an Arab terrorist.

Best,
__________________
Lee and Jacque Davis - Full Timers

Lee - 423-292-5767 or Jacque 423-262-9569
or lnjdavis@gmail.com Please call or email instead of private messages


1995 BMC 37
300 HP Cummins 6CTA 8.3 Turbocharged Diesel
Boldly Going Nowhere
http://www.bbirdmaps.com/index.cfm #117
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  #5  
Old 01-08-2009
pgchd
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Quote:
OK, dumb questions. I see all those pumps which circulate liquid through the zones and the valve handles for each zone (all handles open). I thought what was circulating was hot water heated by the Aquahot, not coolant) So it actually circulates coolant around those zones for the interior heating (I do not have chassis heating, I just have fans under the couch, coming out a hole under the closet in the bedroom, under the cabinet in the kitchen, etc.))? So when I turn on the themostat, the pump starts circulating coolant and the fan comes on blowing what will be hot air past those coils or whatever, or do the pumps circulate coolant all the time when the vqalve is open and only the fan comes on and off with the thermostats inside?

As you can see, I don't really understand how this heating system works (ignorance was bliss) but now am trying to figure out what is actually going on.

I have been running the AH on electric to get hot water (for showers, dishes, etc.). I assume that's fine for actual hot water but won't give me heat if coolant is what's doing that (since mine has leaked out). (I haven't been trying for inside heat with it so I have been assuming it is OK to use electric for hot water and won't hurt anything)?
I believe in one of these "aquahot" posts, someone posted a link to the manuals, there is about 25-30MB worth of manuals..... so here is a very "rough cliff notes" version to help out and going from memory, especially mine, is never a good thing!

From your pics, its appears you and I have the same unit... these things are remarkable units.... mini house setups if you come from a cold climate region, burners, zones, radiant heat process,circulators, the works....... You have a "tank" that holds a solution of antifreeze and water. It's heated by an electric 12Ov element or a 12v diesel fired burner... This "tank" is your "heat source / energy source, it stores your heat energy". This solution is pumped via the circulators to the various zones so the "heat energy" can be transferred to those little radiators in the coach to heat the coach air.....fluid gets cold after energy transfer in the radiators, and cold fluid returns to the tank to get reheated.. repeat process......etc.....( tiny little fans force air through your coach radiators to facilitate the heat transfer process in the coach, rather than convection like in a house system. (These tiny little fans drive Randy crazy in his kitchen! ) Now in that "tank" is a coil of copper tubing that hot water from the fresh water tank / outlet ' system runs through via standard coach water pressure.....the "heat energy" from the tank transfers to the fresh water you use in the coach via the copper coil, and as David pointed out some have replaced this coil with pex, Hence endless hot water as long as the burner or the electric element is continuing to heat the antifreeze solution / your heat energy source.

- Your problem description stated you lost "antifreeze" solution......hence my "assumption" (and you know what Oscar and Felix said about ***-u-me) is you have a "leak in either your "tank" (right side under the rivets) or one of the lines to the circulator feeds
If you are using water in the tank to troubleshoot, its hard to see clear stuff leaking out of a pex line fitting, a circulator gasket, etc ( at least at my age anyway).
PS from your pics it appears you also have the model that lets the engine coolant heat up your tank as well as reverse... meaning the AH heat energy can also be used to heat up your engine for cold weather starts, that is the feed and return lines under your burner, so in actuality, you can have your "heat enegy" tank heated from the burner, electric element, or your engine's coolant. That circulator pump is bottom left back below the other circulators in the left side of the AH. Make sure the "antifreeze" you are leaking is actually the AH's system and not a leak in your engine's systems lines in the left side....I presume from your problem description that the AH tank is loosing fluid, that indeed your AH is the culprit but I mention this for completeness for future reference!..... Good luck.....
PSS if you are loosing tank "fluid", then you have little or low "antifreeze/ heat transfer medium" to transfer heat to the fresh water coils / water so be careful as you don't want to burn up the 120v element......that tank needs to be full for both heat and fresh hot water or damage may or may not occur!!!!!
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  #6  
Old 01-08-2009
Lee Davis's Avatar
Lee Davis Lee Davis is offline
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Oops, I may be in trouble then. I have used the electric element a time or two and it has worked fine (usually gives me plenty of hot water) except yesterday I only had enough for one shower after running it for two hours. It's possible I have screwed up the element. How does one check that out or will I just have to wait until I fix the fluid leak and see if the electric gives me hot water. I guess we'll be taking showers in the bath house until this is resolved.

I know it is Aquahot coolant, not engine coolant as I replaced the engine coolant with the Lifetime Blue stuff and this leak is not blue.

And to make matters worse, I have found a diesel line dripping as well now. It is the one in the front of the diesel burner unit under it so I took the hose off and cut off a little of it (in case the end was bad) and put it back on but still dripping. I watched an Aquahot guy work on mine about a year ago when we were in FL and I vaguely remember these things often leak where the metal tubing goes into the burner unit. He commented that they did that differently in the newer units. Diesel leaks were supposed to have been taken care of when I had the Aquahot recall done by the Bluebird folks (Coachworks) in Ft Valley in the Spring.

I have to admit, these may be great units but I am getting a little tired of mine.
__________________
Lee and Jacque Davis - Full Timers

Lee - 423-292-5767 or Jacque 423-262-9569
or lnjdavis@gmail.com Please call or email instead of private messages


1995 BMC 37
300 HP Cummins 6CTA 8.3 Turbocharged Diesel
Boldly Going Nowhere
http://www.bbirdmaps.com/index.cfm #117
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  #7  
Old 01-08-2009
pgchd
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Quote:
Oops, I may be in trouble then. I have used the electric element a time or two and it has worked fine (usually gives me plenty of hot water) except yesterday I only had enough for one shower after running it for two hours. It's possible I have screwed up the element. How does one check that out or will I just have to wait until I fix the fluid leak and see if the electric gives me hot water. I guess we'll be taking showers in the bath house until this is resolved.
- the troubleshooting manual may have a procedure, can't remember but if the tank holds solution for a couple of hours, fill it, turn off "heat", turn on element for an hour and see if it heats the solution......

Quote:
I know it is Aquahot coolant, not engine coolant as I replaced the engine coolant with the Lifetime Blue stuff and this leak is not blue.
- good deal, my s60 is pink so I can still tell colors!

Quote:
And to make matters worse, I have found a diesel line dripping as well now. It is the one in the front of the diesel burner unit under it so I took the hose off and cut off a little of it (in case the end was bad) and put it back on but still dripping. I watched an Aquahot guy work on mine about a year ago when we were in FL and I vaguely remember these things often leak where the metal tubing goes into the burner unit. He commented that they did that differently in the newer units. Diesel leaks were supposed to have been taken care of when I had the Aquahot recall done by the Bluebird folks (Coachworks) in Ft Valley in the Spring.
- I found these fuel lines seem to get brittle and rot from the inside out, thats how I got started on this AH project...... I have a 95, had to replace all the lines

I have to admit, these may be great units but I am getting a little tired of mine.

- Yes, I feel your pain 1900 bucks for a new complete burner head 2 years ago and as David pointed out, if the tank is leaking and you can't get someone to fix it, then a R&R is about 5k with you doing the labor......remarkable, yes, cheap no, complex, yes....but after all bird and complex are the same definition, no??????? good luck!!!!!
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