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Are Atwood Furnaces Reliable?

Atwood Furnace

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#1 Yukon

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 03:27 PM

I have a 7 year old, 4-Wheel, Eagle, that I bought new with furnace.  Atwood 8500 Series.  The entire time I have had the furnace it has failed over and over.  Each time a different problem (switches, regulator, circuit board, etc, and each time at the worse possible time (I.e. COLD weather trip).  I cannot tell if I have a LEMON, or if Atwood products are just crappy.  It could be either.

 

Have other people had as many problems?  If not, then I might consider just buying a brand new Atwood and hope it is not a lemon this time. I don't mind buying a new one but I would be really unhappy if these problems continue on. 

 

Thoughts?

 

Thanks, Chris 


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Yukon (aka Chris) Photo: Treking frozen tundra above Arctic Circle 2008 Eagle and 2008 Nissan Frontier (Northwest WA)

#2 DesertDave

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 04:00 PM

I can only share my experiences with three different Attwood furnaces,two different kinds in FWC, and a third model in a Bigfoot. Rarely used them over the combined 17 years of ownership, but they always started and heated when needed. Sometimes years of use went by between firings of the furnace, and I never once had to learn how to troubleshoot or repair them. Sounds like the direct opposite of your experiences.

I like the New low-amp draw model they have been using recently, better suited to the volume of the FWC. With a decent digital thermostat they really are practical.
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#3 Cayuse

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 04:34 PM

Mine has been very reliable.  The one time I did have a problem it was a connector that had come a little bit loose from the circuit board, reseated the connection and it fired right up again.


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#4 craig333

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 05:12 PM

Mine doesn't like to fire up unless it has voltage over 13 volts. Haven't started to troubleshoot yet. I inquired with Tom (FWC) about upgrading to the new models they use and he said its not practical. Definitely not just a drop in replacement.


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#5 LookyLou

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 10:13 PM

Our is 3 years old and had to have the circuit board replaced this past winter.  Not an inexpensive job.  Other than that it's worked well.  I pre-flight my camper before each trip and turn on and run all systems to make sure everything works before leaving home.


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#6 Yukon

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Posted 09 October 2015 - 01:55 PM

Thank-you all for your responses !  This makes me feel a little better.  I agree with pre-trip testing. I have done that in the past and the darn thing stops working later.  I am suspecting something difficult to detect like a poor ground, etc.  I may just spend $525 and buy a new one given how much cold weather camping we do. 


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Yukon (aka Chris) Photo: Treking frozen tundra above Arctic Circle 2008 Eagle and 2008 Nissan Frontier (Northwest WA)

#7 kmcintyre

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Posted 09 October 2015 - 02:25 PM

I don't know what issues mine may have had before I bought it, but based on when mine wouldn't fire up it worked.  It's about 15 years old now.  When I diagnosed it, I replaced all the inexpensive parts first.   Pretty easy to do.  I replaced jet, sail switch, etc.  In the end, it was the circuit board.  You can get new ones fairly cheap (not the atwood version but dinosaur (?) I think) which comes with a warrantee.  Works great now.  Remember that a lot of dust, etc. gets in there so that could be part of the issue.  Heats up the camper rather quickly so it's never on for long.


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#8 Trailbob

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 02:20 PM

We lived in CA when we bought our 2010 Hawk, and rarely used the Atwood furnace.  When we would take it to Idaho on hunting trips, it would often fail to start.  Sometimes I could "bang" it with my hand and it would work-- then it would heat fine.  I took it it an RV repair center and they could not duplicate the problem, it worked perfect for them.  The next year, in Idaho (when we really needed it), I had the same problem with it not turning on reliably, unless I "banged" the front of it.  Back to the RV dealer who finally replicated the problem.  They did some more research and found out there had been some issues with an internal switch, but the factory said they would not replace the switch unless it happened again.  (I was not happy...).   

 

For whatever reason, it has worked fine since that time (we now live in Idaho, and use it often).  Unrelated to the heater issue, I replaced the thermostat with a digital model which I highly recommend over the original type.  I have also added a Wave 3 heater, so I now have two heat sources.

 

In my previous Hawk (1999 model), I had an Atwood furnace that always worked fine.  I suspect that they are a good furnace, but may have had a bad run of them.


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#9 Yukon

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 01:27 AM

Thank-you again folks for your additional input!  Your detailed notes are appreciated. 

 

 I have been repeatedly testing mine in the driveway without moving the truck.    It worked some days, and then didn't work the next day.  No logic that could see.  Tried different voltages, etc. 

 

Again, I am suspecting I have a LEMON.

 

Chris


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Yukon (aka Chris) Photo: Treking frozen tundra above Arctic Circle 2008 Eagle and 2008 Nissan Frontier (Northwest WA)

#10 Yukon

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 02:24 PM

Yesterday I found the problem (after taking heater completely out of the truck).  The wire going to the blower motor was broken right where it goes into the motor housing; but it was intermittent.  Just lightly tapping the side of the heater would cause heater to go on and off. 

 

Chris


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Yukon (aka Chris) Photo: Treking frozen tundra above Arctic Circle 2008 Eagle and 2008 Nissan Frontier (Northwest WA)





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