So you would think with all this “free” time on my hands now that we don’t have a house and yard to take care of, all my motorhome projects would be completed in short order, right? Wrong! My list just keeps getting longer and each task just seems to take longer to complete, or to get around to completing.
I suppose part of this is because we are “busy” having fun or socializing with our neighbors and new and old friends – much more so then we ever did while living in our former home. Likewise, who wants to “work” when the sun is out, the temps are in the low 70’s and the beach, a bike trail, a geocache or a new restaurant are beckoning to be explored?
Compounding the situation, new things keep getting added to the list. Sometimes this is because we have progressed in figuring out what works and what doesn’t in our new rolling home, so the priorities and methods change. But also sometimes because something just plain breaks and then that becomes a new priority.
For example, just last week we realized the propane burner on our boiler had stopped working. Since that is our primary source of heat and hot water it went immediately to the top of the list. Fortunately, the electric element also present in this equipment was still operational and enough to keep the hot water adequate for low volume use. And we also luckily have alternative sources of heat that operate electrically (our fireplace and three rooftop heat pumps).
Nevertheless this failure had to be fixed ASAP. Despite my almost fanatical desire to be able to repair everything myself (not to mention not so good experiences with so called professionals), I initially figured this might be a good time to call in the experts, after all it would all be covered by warranty and it seemed like it should be a straightforward part swap type of repair. Well, as luck would have it, the nearest authorized service facility for our AquaHot boiler was 250 miles away!
OK, guess I will be needing to take a look at this myself after all! After finding a service manual online, I read up on the operation and at least mentally had it narrowed down to a few components. After opening the cover I quickly discovered a blown fuse – ah! Must be it, right? Not so fast, whenever I see a blown fuse my first thought is that there must be some underlying reason why it blew, so I was not very optimistic a replacement fuse would fix it.
Sure enough, a new fuse popped too after only a couple seconds of operation. But now I had a clue – before the fuse popped again there was a bit of high frequency whining and a little bit of audible sizzle coupled with that nasty burning epoxy smell I know all too well from my days as an electronic tech. No clear signs of smoke to indicate the bad component, but I was almost surely on the right track – it was either the main circuit board or something connected to it. So I just eliminated one component at a time until I had the culprit isolated. Turned out to be a module known as a Buck/Boost regulator (there are two of them in this AquaHot model) – it takes the variable 9-15 volts that could be present in the coach and makes it a steady 12 volts under any condition.
This is an epoxy encapsulated (potted) module about 2×3 inches and once removed and examined, had obvious burn marks and was clearly the source of the acrid smell. The good news is that a call to Aquahot resulted in them overnighting me a new part. The bad news is it was unfortunately a Friday so the part would not arrive until Monday. Worse yet we were leaving that very Monday for a new campground so we had to have the part delivered there.
And as luck would have it we used the incorrect delivery address (groan!) so on Monday afternoon I had to run around trying to find the package. I finally found it and later that day after a fairly painless installation had the AquaHot running normally again.
Oh well, sounds like time for a beer and to reflect on my successful repair and newly gained experience fixing an AquaHot. I think I’ll look at my to do list and add this as a task, just so I can cross it off!