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Old 13-12-2017, 21:02   #1
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FORCED AIR DIESEL HEATER URGENT WARNING

I have been running my Espar diesel heater lately and tonight I could not hear anything coming from the exhaust outlet on the stern. On further inspection the outlet was cold. The heater in the boat was blowing full blast. I opened the starboard cockpit lazarette and followed the exhaust pipe from the heater up to the muffler. Very difficult to see so I used a mirror and could see the muffler had corroded at the outlet and had disconnected from the exhaust pipe. The result was exhaust fumes from the heater were filling the stern compartment of the boat. The Espar heater gets it fresh air from the same compartment. This is a source for Carbon Monoxide to be circulated into the main cabin. Fortunately we never run the heater without a fresh air source and never run it while we sleep. After searching the internet I learned the muffler I have is the type used in automobile heater applications and there is a specific stainless steel version for marine applications. I do not know how or why the automotive type muffler was installed but I will be installing the stainless marine type. If you have an Espar or other diesel heater, it is a good idea to check the condition of the exhaust system. They don't call CO the silent killer for nothing. Also here is a link to a story about a near fatality.
https://www.sailmagazine.com/cruisin...ads-to-tragedy
I concur with Ali Wisch, "If I'm going to die on my sailboat it sure as hell better not be at the dock!"
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Old 13-12-2017, 21:53   #2
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Re: FORCED AIR DIESEL HEATER URGENT WARNING

Stories aplenty:

Coroner calls for mandatory gas alarms after death of young sailor off Balmoral
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Old 13-12-2017, 23:06   #3
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Re: FORCED AIR DIESEL HEATER URGENT WARNING

I had an Espar in a previous boat where the stainless exhaust flex hose was attached to the through hull with a steel clamp. The clamp eventually rusted letting the hose come partially off.
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Old 14-12-2017, 19:39   #4
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Re: FORCED AIR DIESEL HEATER URGENT WARNING

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabo Jim View Post
I have been running my Espar diesel heater lately and tonight I could not hear anything coming from the exhaust outlet on the stern. On further inspection the outlet was cold. The heater in the boat was blowing full blast. I opened the starboard cockpit lazarette and followed the exhaust pipe from the heater up to the muffler. Very difficult to see so I used a mirror and could see the muffler had corroded at the outlet and had disconnected from the exhaust pipe. The result was exhaust fumes from the heater were filling the stern compartment of the boat. The Espar heater gets it fresh air from the same compartment. This is a source for Carbon Monoxide to be circulated into the main cabin. Fortunately we never run the heater without a fresh air source and never run it while we sleep. After searching the internet I learned the muffler I have is the type used in automobile heater applications and there is a specific stainless steel version for marine applications. I do not know how or why the automotive type muffler was installed but I will be installing the stainless marine type. If you have an Espar or other diesel heater, it is a good idea to check the condition of the exhaust system. They don't call CO the silent killer for nothing. Also here is a link to a story about a near fatality.
https://www.sailmagazine.com/cruisin...ads-to-tragedy
I concur with Ali Wisch, "If I'm going to die on my sailboat it sure as hell better not be at the dock!"
Further to my last post about a catastrophic failure of an Espar diesel heater exhaust muffler, can anyone recommend a source in the continental US for a stainless steel (marine) muffler?
Lubrication Specialists in Indiana do not have one in stock.
Espar of Michigan could not provide one.
Thanks
Cabo (still on the right side of the dirt) Jim
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Old 14-12-2017, 19:53   #5
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Re: FORCED AIR DIESEL HEATER URGENT WARNING

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabo Jim View Post
Further to my last post about a catastrophic failure of an Espar diesel heater exhaust muffler, can anyone recommend a source in the continental US for a stainless steel (marine) muffler?
Lubrication Specialists in Indiana do not have one in stock.
Espar of Michigan could not provide one.
Thanks
Cabo (still on the right side of the dirt) Jim
Sure Marine Service: Webasto Heating, AC & Galley Equipment
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Old 14-12-2017, 19:57   #6
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Re: FORCED AIR DIESEL HEATER URGENT WARNING

I know itís obvious, but CO alarms are inexpensive, and apparently have a limited life, so if you donít have them, get a couple and if they are more than a year or two old, maybe replace one?
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Old 14-12-2017, 21:11   #7
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Re: FORCED AIR DIESEL HEATER URGENT WARNING

Boats often have more CO generating devices than a house (engine, stove, maybe heater). So every boat should have a couple of CO alarms. Some of the new ones are designed to last for 10 years - including a sealed 10 year battery. After 10 years it chirps and you replace the whole unit. About $30.
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Old 15-12-2017, 09:39   #8
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Re: FORCED AIR DIESEL HEATER URGENT WARNING

Cabo Jim,
I don't have one but your post is one that makes this worthwhile. Thanks for those you may have saved.
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Old 15-12-2017, 10:04   #9
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Re: FORCED AIR DIESEL HEATER URGENT WARNING

Jim-
While most of us lived for many years before affordable CO detectors had ever been invented, let alone marketed, these things make it SO easy to avoid that way of getting killed that the pendulum is kinda swinging to the crazy side of things.
Like NYC requiring them in all apartments--even when there is no combustion source to monitor!
And on the other hand, after a number of PD's have had problems with Ford Explorers(?) they've actually installed them in the police cars, while Ford keeps saying the CO just couldn't be getting in. (Umhum.)
So, yeah, $25 can still buy me a rather good pub burger and a couple of pints of stout...but spending it every eight or ten years on a monoxide detector, doesn't seem like such a bad idea. Smoke detectors, too. If you hunt around, there are some of both with ten-year batteries built in, and when they expire, yes, it is time to replace the whole unit anyway.
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Old 15-12-2017, 10:15   #10
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Re: FORCED AIR DIESEL HEATER URGENT WARNING

There are a lot of things you need to keep checking on an Espar heater to keep it running safely, from the exhaust, the fuel supply, electrical connections, the jet, etc. It's a very good idea to take it apart and understand how it works and what needs maintenance, and to do that maintenance check at the start of every season. If you run it a lot in winter, check it mid-season too.

If you ever run it where the boat can't swing with the wind, be super careful about exhaust blowing back over/into the cabin. There are incidences of boat owners suffering CO poisoning from just that and never fully recovering from it. Be very mindful of the exhaust when it's running.
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Old 15-12-2017, 10:35   #11
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Re: FORCED AIR DIESEL HEATER URGENT WARNING

I worked with a charter company in PNW where most of the boats had this type of heater. They worked great but needed careful monitoring and maintenance. Another thing to watch is heat coming out of the exhaust. A dingly can be damaged. Hot stuff.
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Old 15-12-2017, 10:37   #12
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Re: FORCED AIR DIESEL HEATER URGENT WARNING

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabo Jim View Post
Further to my last post about a catastrophic failure of an Espar diesel heater exhaust muffler, can anyone recommend a source in the continental US for a stainless steel (marine) muffler?
Lubrication Specialists in Indiana do not have one in stock.
Espar of Michigan could not provide one.
Thanks
Cabo (still on the right side of the dirt) Jim
I see your location as Kelowna ,BC. Roton industries in Vancouver Make special marine mufflers, double wall through hulls for the exhaust etc. for Espar heaters. The heaters nominally have a 25mm exhaust system. For marine application this is boosted to 30mm so a special elbow has to be fitted on the exhaust. If you had a standard muffler I would suspect that the entire exhaust system is that used for trucks and should be replaced with a proper marine type exhaust system.
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Old 15-12-2017, 15:06   #13
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Re: FORCED AIR DIESEL HEATER URGENT WARNING

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I know itís obvious, but CO alarms are inexpensive, and apparently have a limited life, so if you donít have them, get a couple and if they are more than a year or two old, maybe replace one?
one thing to point out co is a heavy gas so mount your sensors just below your sleeping platform heights. The opposite is true with smoke detectors they should be mounted as high as practicable in the cabin. ( this is the reason I hate those all in one units. )
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Old 15-12-2017, 15:07   #14
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Re: FORCED AIR DIESEL HEATER URGENT WARNING

Like most mission or safety critical systems a robust preventative maintenance program is key.
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Old 15-12-2017, 15:23   #15
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Re: FORCED AIR DIESEL HEATER URGENT WARNING

Good timing on this thread coming up . I just acquired an older used unit a volvo flygmotor 041 d diesel forced air heater made by eberspacher. Any specifics I should look for
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