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Old 19-06-2013, 04:11   #1
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Espar DIY Maintenance?

I installed an Espar Airtronic4 forced air diesel fueled heater about 9 years ago and it's worked perfectly and I've done no maintenance. I don't run it continuously much as I am not a live aboard... but use it on weekends in the shoulder season here in the NE. It's a wonderful system.

This past weekend it was a bit cool and so I turned it on and it seemed to not be able to crank out a lot of heat. I was thinking perhaps the thermostat range and ambient air temps simply did not allow it to roast me or effectively pump out a lot of heat in not too cool weather. But that made no sense to me so I was thinking that for some reason it was not able to get hot enough to generate sufficient heat.

Could this be from restrictedf fuel flow?
Could it be from a fouled glow plug?
Could it be from some other cause such as a blower malfunction which limits the temp so it doesn't overheat (rather than just shut down)?

The heater runs.. the amount of air seems less and the temp of the air seems to be not as hot as I recall it to have been. The design features feedback and self test and it's suppose to shut down if something doesn't meet spec. There is no problem with the batts.

I'd rather tackle this myself and wonder if anyone has attempted a DIY service?

If so any recommendations?
Shall I begin by changing the fuel filter?
Can I clean the glo plug or can it/should it be replaced?
Can I clean, or lube etc... the blower?
Could this be a themostat of electronic problem? How do I test for that?

Thanks for your suggestions. (I did the original install.)

Jeffrey
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Old 19-06-2013, 04:19   #2
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Re: Espar DIY Maintenance?

I have limited experience but will give it a go.

Some suggest that you run a couple of gallons of kerosene through it perodically. Helps clean things out.

The air blower can fail, I carry a spare but have not had to change it.

There is a little screen under the glow plug that can get funky. Some clean that periodically. When you buy a glow plug you get a cheap stamped deep well socket with a deep side cut to allow the wire to pass. You can make one out of a normal deep well with a cut off wheel on a grinder. Apparently the cheap one breaks.

I think that's about it. I would buy a glow plug before removing the existing one, it can be pretty fragile.

Hope others have more.
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Old 19-06-2013, 04:48   #3
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Re: Espar DIY Maintenance?

My Espar controller (12 year old unit) had a single light on the thermostat. It did a sequence flash on startup that indicated failure conditions. 3 flashes meant one thing, 4 another, etc
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Old 19-06-2013, 04:53   #4
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Re: Espar DIY Maintenance?

Thanks...

I may have in my spares a glo plug from the older D3L... Would that fit? Or should I order a new one or two and have a spare?

I do have another filter set.

A couple of gallons of kero will take quite a while to burn or does it not matter if it burns.. just that it is pumped through? Wouldn't the htr shut down if it's not burning the fuel? Please clarify this. Or is it a regular maintenance practice when the htr is working?

What is the source you recommend for spares?

Jef
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Old 19-06-2013, 04:57   #5
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Re: Espar DIY Maintenance?

I have an Eberspacher (Espar) Hydronic which is fairly troublesome.

There is a fair amount of maintenance you can do yourself, like clean or change the glow plugs, decarbonize the combustion chamber, and diagnose the thing, even, if you have the more elaborate control panel which gives diagnostic codes.

After four years you are due for a service, so I would just call in the authorized service center. By this time you will surely need decarbonization and a glow plug, at the very least, and I think a thorough examination by a trained tech will be valuable enough to be worth not trying to do it yourself.

The fact that you used it only sporadically will not mean it requires less service. On the contrary, according to what all the techs who have worked on mine have told me, they carbon up faster if they are run irregularly and especially if they are run for short periods.

I just had mine done after about three years since the last one. The tech insisted on taking it out of the boat and putting it on his bench. It wasn't all that expensive, and now I know that everything has been gone through. I would not have understood myself what I was looking at, if I had tried to do it myself.

The first time I had it worked on the entire control board had to be replaced, so the problems aren't always obvious mechanical things.

For many boats, there just isn't a reasonable alternative way of heating the whole boat. But I'm afraid you are somewhat dependent on professional support, with these heaters. Not like one of those drip-feed bulkhead stoves which you can fix with a bent nail and a pair of pliers.
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Old 19-06-2013, 05:01   #6
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Re: Espar DIY Maintenance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by defjef View Post
Thanks...

I may have in my spares a glo plug from the older D3L... Would that fit? Or should I order a new one or two and have a spare?

I do have another filter set.

A couple of gallons of kero will take quite a while to burn or does it not matter if it burns.. just that it is pumped through? Wouldn't the htr shut down if it's not burning the fuel? Please clarify this. Or is it a regular maintenance practice when the htr is working?

What is the source you recommend for spares?

Jef
Burn the kero. Run the heater on kero. It burns cleaner and hotter and is supposed to clean up the combustion chamber.

I have considered doing this myself, but it's a PITA if you don't have a readily accessible fuel hose which you can just pop off and stick in a can of kero. In my case, I would have to install a "t" valve and new fuel pickup. It has not seemed worth the bother, although in my climate I do prize reliable functioning of the heater.

In your case, with a noticeable fall in output, I would definitely call in a tech. I doubt you would get a sudden drop in outlet from a simple maintenance issue like carbonized combustion chamber.
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Old 19-06-2013, 06:21   #7
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Re: Espar DIY Maintenance?

I had a bad experience with Ocean Options in the past... doing a very expensive service and then a year later it failed and wanted to charge the same! I don't know of local reasonable techs... but that would be my first choice and taking it out is no biggier.

I'll need to locate someone in the NYC area...

Any suggestions?

Jef
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Old 19-06-2013, 07:37   #8
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Re: Espar DIY Maintenance?

mine is similar, ( airtronic 5) most likely carbon build up in effect causing insulation. unlikely to be glow plug

ALso there is a little filter in the intake of the electric pump, ( you have to gently unscrew the aluminium nut) it gets blocked easily , but such blockages generally lead to uneven running.

Dave
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Old 19-06-2013, 09:15   #9
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Re: Espar DIY Maintenance?

Thanks Dave.. Is carbon build up something I can deal with on board?
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Old 19-06-2013, 09:18   #10
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Re: Espar DIY Maintenance?

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Originally Posted by defjef View Post
Thanks Dave.. Is carbon build up something I can deal with on board?
yes it can be dismantled, but its a bit finicky and there is an annoying gasket/seal thats very fragile.

dave
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Old 19-06-2013, 09:20   #11
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Re: Espar DIY Maintenance?

Dockhead, A friend of mine with a old Hydronic had the jet drilled out a little and said his performance under red diesel improved immeasurably with the unit starting first time ( after tens years of poor performance) he can disassemble the unit in his sleep.

They all give trouble on gas oil as they are designed for DERV

He used to start it by giving the exhaust outlet a wack of the hand to drive air in !!!
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