What’s the best maintenance for our Aqua-Hot heating system? It’s not working at the moment, but I’m chasing down a repair tech. —Mike, 2013 Thor Tuscany 45XT
Aqua-Hot recommends a monthly visual inspection of the antifreeze/water mixture in the expansion bottle. They also recommend an annual tuneup, for which there is a kit available. Included in the kit are:
- Fuel filter
- Diesel nozzle
- Electrode adjustment tool
- Burner gasket
- Portable refractometer
- 1 quart of concentrated boiler antifreeze
The fuel filter and nozzle should be changed each year. Also the burner chamber should be thoroughly cleaned and inspected.
You will also need a variety of tools such as wrenches and sockets, depending on your model. Most common are:
- 1/4-in. ratchet
- 5/8-in. box end wrench
- 3/4-in. box end wrench
- 11-mm wrench
- 9/16-in. wrench
- 10-in. extension
- 7/16-in. socket
- 10-mm socket
- Phillips head screwdriver
- Wire brush
- Pinch-off pliers or clamps
- Rags and gloves
First step is to turn the unit on and run the heater. Inspect the exhaust to ensure the unit is running properly and let it run for 2 minutes. Verify all functions are operating properly and then turn off the burner. Wait for the unit to cool down properly before going any further and verify the power is off to the unit.
Replace the fuel filter
Use the pinch-off pliers or clamps to pinch the fuel lines at the fuel filter. Remove and replace the filter. Note, it is a good idea to fill the new filter with fuel as it will take several cycles to get a dry filter started.
Remove the pinch-off pliers or clamps after installing the fuel lines. If you do not remove these items, it will blow out the fuel pump gasket.
Restart the burner to purge the fuel in the nozzle area and fuel system. Let it run for 3 minutes, then shut it down and let it cool off.
Clean and inspect burner chamber
Remove the cover by taking off the two top bolts and front bolt. Next, remove the control module, which will just slide off, and disconnect the two wiring plugs.
Pinch off the fuel lines outside the cabinet and remove the metal fuel lines. This will allow you to remove the burner by removing the two I bolts at the 1 o’clock and 7 o’clock position. Slowly remove the burner and rotate it so the nozzle is facing up.
Remove the swirler by pulling straight out. If you have not done an annual tuneup, this might be hard to remove. Use an auto body dent hammer or hook slide hammer. Do not use pliers as this will cause damage to the area where the photo disks sit and cause black smoke during operation.
Clean and inspect the swirler for damage or warping. If there is damage, you will need to contact Aqua-Hot to obtain a new swirler. If the swirler looks good, loosen the 4 swing bolts to remove the combustion chamber. Inspect and clean the combustion chamber with a rag. If it has carbon buildup, you might need a wire brush. An annual tune up will reduce this.
The heat transfer tabs cannot be cleaned with a wire brush. Remove any debris with a wet/dry vac. Do not blow soot or debris out the tailpipe as it could result in blockage.
Reinstall the combustion chamber, new gasket, and swirler.
Inspecting burner and components
Look for any damage to components or excess fuel pooling, which would indicate a leaky fuel pump. Inspect the electrodes for cracks and excess carbon, which can be cleaned with a scrubbing pad.
Inspect the flame sensor or photo eye to make sure it is not cracked, damaged or overheated. Make sure the wires are not damaged and clean with brake cleaner.
Visually inspect the rubber grommets and cutouts to ensure they are not brittle or allow too much air in the cutouts. Check the wiring for solid connections and no bare wiring. Inspect the ears and housing for any cracks or damage.
Replace fuel nozzle
It is recommended you replace the fuel nozzle as the last step. Remove the old nozzle with the two wrenches. Install the new nozzle and seat it properly by tightening with the two wrenches, loosen it, then retighten it. Failure to properly seat the nozzle will cause fuel to leak.
Check and adjust electrodes
There may be a gauge on the side of your burner, or you can use one that is provided in the tuneup kit. Place the gauge on the top of the nozzle so the nozzle touches the plate of the gauge. The electrode probes should sit in the “V” grooves and be flush. An electrode protruding above gauge will cause blue or white smoking. Too low and they will cause intermittent lighting. If the electrodes need to be adjusted, loosen the 10 mm bolt on the side harness, adjust up or down, and retighten the harness.
Place the burner back in the combustion chamber carefully without bumping or damaging the electrodes. Swing the bolts back in place and tighten them with the 1/4” wrench so they are not over-tightened. They should not be over 10 inch pounds.
Reconnect the fuel lines, plug in the controller and slide it back against the burner, and replace the cover.
Now run the system. It may take a few cycles to get any air out of the system. Let it run until it reaches temperature and shuts down.
Check antifreeze solution
Unscrew the top of the expansion bottle and use the eyedropper that comes with the refractometer to draw a sample of antifreeze and place it on the meter. It should read between 35% and 50%.
Aqua-Hot has a great tutorial video here.
You might also enjoy this from Dave
How do I winterize my Aqua-Hot heating system?
How do I winterize our RV? It has an Aqua-Hot heating system and heated floors. —Susan, 2022 Tiffin Allegro Bus 40 IP
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”
Read more from Dave here.
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