RV Furnace Won’t Ignite: How to Troubleshoot the Problem

It’s lovely to have a trip during the warm sunny months. However, many people love to travel on RV round the year, while some enjoy living in their home on wheels on cold nights. Cold weather requires a hot environment inside the RV to make its passengers feel cozy and comfortable. It is when a furnace comes in to play. It is impossible to think of RV journeys in cold weather without a heater or furnace. Therefore, people must know how to troubleshoot some common problems like the RV furnace won’t ignite.

The following mechanical know-how and some common sense will help the campers to identify the causes and fix them.

What to Do When RV Furnace Won’t Ignite

There can be several reasons why the RV furnace won’t light up. So, before proceeding to diagnose the cause, you need to confirm whether the RV heater runs on electricity or propane gas.

For an electric furnace, insufficient battery power or blown out fuse is usually responsible for ignition failure. In the case of a gas furnace, a lack of propane supply or a clogged gas valve could be the reason. In any case, go through the following steps to find out the actual issue and then perform RV furnace troubleshooting.

rv furnace won't light
You need to examine various furnace parts to find the problem.

Inspect the Gas Line

For a gas furnace, checking the shut-off valve on the furnace exterior is mandatory to confirm if the gas is on. To examine gas supply, run other appliances that derive energy from propane gas. Once you are sure about the presence of propane, it is time to see if the gas is reaching the furnace properly. Inspect if the valve is open, not containing any obstructing object inside it, and not damaged in any way.

Any of these issues will prohibit the furnace from getting enough propane. If there is a smell of gas and campers suspect a leak, immediately leave the premises and call for help.

Check the Thermostat Value

For a furnace to work, the thermostat should have a higher value than the room temperature. So, when it is not igniting, check the thermostat. Also, one can turn on the fan so that the heater starts to release heat.

In the case of an electric furnace with a display, check if there is an error code the programmable thermostat is showing. It might give information regarding the problem.

There can also be problems with the thermostat battery. If the thermostat is not properly functioning, replacing it would be the right thing to do.

Turn on the Power Switch

Whether the trailer furnace runs on electricity or propane, it will have a power switch. The switch must be turned on for the furnace to run, and this should also be in the checklist if the RV furnace won’t ignite.

Campers also need to check the breaker. Turn it on if the furnace power is off for any reason. If the travel trailer furnace will not light after fixing, consult a technician.

Inspect the Air Filter

Clogged air filters and vents can also be the reason why the furnace will not ignite. Make sure if these things, along with the furnace registers, are clean. Clean the filter if there are any obstructions or blockage. If that is not possible at the personal level, call someone professional to resolve all the ventilation issues, and get sufficient airflow. If you have not replaced air vents and filters recently, it is worthwhile to consider doing that too.

Check for Sufficient Battery Power

Usually, an electric travel trailer furnace requires a 10.5V supply. Check the battery power by using a multimeter. They can also make use of a blower since it will run on lesser voltage. If that is unable to run, then the RV furnace does not have sufficient voltage supply.

Change the battery to get the necessary power. Purchase a new one or if it is still under warranty, contact its manufacturer for a replacement or repair.

Wiring Issues

If the batteries are delivering the right amount of power, take a look at the wiring to find damaged or loose wire. Double-check all the wires and the connectors. Replace any non-functional equipment.

Inspect Fuses

There is a fuse between the DC supply and the RV furnace electric board. If it blows out, there will be a break in the battery supply, resulting in ignition failure. A blown-out fuse will release black smoke, so check out for any smoke to detect fuse issues.

Ensure Sufficient Propane Supply

An RV furnace requires an adequate propane supply to ignite. Switch on the furnace power and give it some time. Try to smell the gas near the furnace exhaust. If there is no smell, the propane gas is not available, and the refilling of gas is what you have to do next.

Propane gas filling involves risks of burns and other injuries, so one has to be careful during the refill process.

rv furnace troubleshooting
Disassemble only if you are an expert.

Other Points to Consider When RV Furnace Won’t Ignite

Sometimes, the circuit boards of the motorhome run and stop intermittently. Due to the heat and cold causing contraction and expansion, this intermittent behavior takes place. Thus, it can cause circuit board failure, which subsequently leads to a non-functional furnace. Finding out the exact cause of circuit board issues can be a difficult job. Hence, most people find that replacing as a quicker fix.

When the furnace becomes overheated, its electronic components can suffer from damage or burn. Such situations will lead to furnace malfunction and even make the furnace stop working. It also generates carbon monoxide in a large volume, which is harmful to the health and the environment.

Final Words

A systematic approach is essential to diagnose the reasons for an RV furnace won’t ignite, so one can work on a speedy repair. In most cases, you can fix the problems by yourself. At times, the issue could be too technical for a non-professional person to handle. In that case, do not hesitate to take professional assistance.

Scott Rivers is an editorial director at RVTalk.net. He has been traveling more than a decade, working and living on the road. With about 15 years of experience in RV living, road tripping, he now uses this experience as a travel blogger. Sharing his experience and knowledge is part of his passion and enjoyment in working as an editor director at RVTalk.net. Travel, mountain biking and photography are his hobbies. His work has always involved doing something he loves and is passionate about; when he wakes up in the morning and there’s not some kind of challenge, he knows it’s time to move on.

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