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Old 26-12-2007, 18:21   #1
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Need Help with Espar Heater

im getting alot of white smoke from the exhaust of the heater. but to start off i should say that back in august the power supply to the spark plug corroded off sp when i went to run the heater it didnt ignite. so i left it till now, redid the wiring and fired it up. so after a few months i was surprised to see that there was alot of unburnt fuel exiting the exhaust. there is also a material wrapped around the exhaust (for heat im sure) that is not soaked but damp with diesel not sure how it got there but im guessing that the unburnt diesel had to go somewhere.
has any one had this problem? cheers
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Old 26-12-2007, 19:50   #2
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The diesel got pumped through and leaked out of the exhaust pipe into the insulation covering the exhaust.
First of all, don't worry too much about that diesel dampness, it's going to evaporate.
From your description it sounds like the glow plug isn't getting enough power to light off the incoming fuel during the starting phase. Your problem is probably just electrical.

I had an Espar D 3 in my previous boat. It provided decent heat when it worked, but corrosion was always the problem whenever it didn't.

Make sure ALL the connections and wiring are up to snuff.
Check every connector in the whole wiring harness as well as every connection on the heater itself. Especially critical are the main power connectors both plus and minus where they plug onto the "brain".

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Old 26-12-2007, 20:02   #3
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thanks i forgot to mention when i started the heater it made some poping sounds like back firing or like trying to start, very low in sound i only heard this because i was standing right in front of it with a fire extinguiser, lol, but it started shortly after. do you think this is the glo plug issue you speek of. by the glo plug do you mean the spark plug? and what do you think the excessive white smoke is or is that normal?
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Old 26-12-2007, 20:04   #4
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Had one in mine and I took it out.. never could get it to operate right, but then again, it was 20 years old.. the problem I most disliked was that you would use it in cold weather and in the cold, it would put out HOT, DAMP air.. after a half hour of running, the boat was sweeting inside.. I've now set up an invertor with an oil Radiator...works pretty good if we keep the boat closed up......
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Old 26-12-2007, 21:39   #5
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White smoke generally means unburned fuel because it is not burning hot enough or the mixture is too lean.
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Old 26-12-2007, 23:51   #6
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It has a glow plug not a spark plug. From the outside they look similar, but whereas a spark plug obviously has a gap and a spark, a glow plug has a metal tip which has a filament inside which makes the tip glow red hot. During this phase, the glow plug draws a good bit of current at 12 volts. I forget exactly how much,(10 amps?) but I'm sure someone can tell you. This ignites the diesel which is being sprayed around from a spinning nozzle inside the combustion chamber. Once the spray ignites, the combustion chamber heats up. A sensor then switches off the glow plug. At this point, the only battery current being drawn is a little bit for the fuel pump (that clicking sound) and the fan. The combustion is self sustaining when everything is in order.

It's normal to hear a very low rumble as it starts.

White smoke is as David M said, unburned fuel.

They work best if you leave a portlight open or the hatch cracked just a little.

My current boat has an Ardic diesel furnace. Same principle.

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Old 27-12-2007, 12:17   #7
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so the unburnt fuel is this a problem that i can fix? or is this normal operation, it seems like alot coming out the exhaust. you would think that there would be no unburnt fuel right? would a new glo plug burn hotter to burn the fuel?
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Old 27-12-2007, 15:47   #8
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Are you getting plenty of heat when this white smoke is still there?
Is the smoke continuous over time or just a short time during startup and shutdown?
Normally, you may see some white during startup and shutdown, but only briefly.
Once it starts, the glow plug should automatically be switched off, and the fan will continue to run. You will probably hear it speed up slightly when the glow plug is disconnected by the computer. At this point you shouldn't see any white smoke.
When the cabin thermostat (if you have one) senses the cabin temperature has been reached, the fuel pump is switched off. The fan will continue to run, but at this point you may see a short puff of white smoke (maybe five to ten seconds long)as the remaining fuel becomes too lean to burn.

When the remaining heat of the burner is pumped into the cabin by the fan, the computer will shut it off.

The glow plug could be defective. Usually they burn out, but I did have one which although it still drew current, was very weak.


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Old 27-12-2007, 16:23   #9
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yes i have plenty of heat and the smoke was continuos for about 5min . i ran the heater again and noticed white smoke coming from where the damp (with diesel) heat rap is so i am guessing that the exhaust is heating up and creating the white smoke and it is being sucked in at the end where fresh air is entering. probably should change the heat rap does this sound possible?
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Old 27-12-2007, 18:35   #10
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I believe the wrap on my Espar was glass cloth, but I'm not sure.

Exactly how long from the first "call for heat" to the glow plug turn off time(fan slight increase in speed)? It shouldn't take more than 30 to 45 seconds as I remember, but that's memory of ten years ago.

Do you have an owner's manual and does it start every time or do you need to reset it before it runs properly?

There is another possibility, there is a circular gasket between the fan end of the burner and the main body. It's made of an asbestos type of material and is supposed to be changed if you ever take it apart. Maybe it's leaking, although imho if the heater was working correctly you wouldn't get any unburned fuel in the first place. If the glow plug is weak and the fire doesn't start soon enough, you might be getting enough fuel leakage at the start of each cycle to keep the pipe wrap in a state of constant dampness.

Assuming a correct ignition sequence and you only had unburned fuel escaping ONE time, even if you didn't do anything I suppose the diesel would eventually evaporate.
If that's the source of your smoke, maybe you could take it off and burn off the diesel with a torch or?
Replacement shouldn't be necessary once it dries out.

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Old 19-09-2009, 22:58   #11
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good stuff on the espar. ours is a DLC5 as i recall and its caput, wont light off, glow is ok, fuel pump tics, then it stops. the darn thing is way back in midgit quarters. got a manual downloaded but no help. suggestions besides pulling the unit and sending it off, big deal for me and i stilldont know if its the unit or the electronic boxes that plug into it. whats with the loose connectors? thanks for the posts
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Old 20-09-2009, 04:00   #12
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I would recommend that you download and study the technical manual from here (or the archive link here)
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Old 20-09-2009, 09:16   #13
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thank you Talbot, tried that, will try again, many thanks ds
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Old 20-09-2009, 10:10   #14
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White smoke might be steam which is the result of water accumulation in the exhaust hose.

The heater will not work if the fuel is not combusting. It shuts down. As described previously, the glow plug starts the combustion which is self sustaining and shuts down the plug. The remaining electric requirement is for the fuel metering pump and the blower, which moves the hot air.

When the unit shuts down the fan remains on to cool down the heater, so it doesn't melt components. The system has internal system checks for temperature and must meet all criteria to work properly.

The D3L blower must be cleaned regularly or it will not move enough air to maintain proper temps in the combustion chamber.
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Old 20-09-2009, 15:50   #15
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thanks but steam, no light off! will try to understand the codes.....again. thanks all
ds
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