Monday we got up early, did our morning routines and then headed over to the Big Bear Discovery Center for our two day orientation. We met other camp host’s and maintenance people and were presented with the in’s and outs of these type’s of jobs.
After our first day of orientation we went back to the rig and settled in for the night. It is chilly here so we decided to turn on our fireplace and watch a little Tv. For dinner, Max made some pizza’s in the convection oven. During all of this we could smell something, but not sure what it was. We were thinking that we just came out of a very dusty environment and the fireplace was dirty and the heat from it was making it smell. Kind of like the first time you start your furnace after a long absence, it puts off a pungent odor.
Tuesday we went to our orientation and finished up our paperwork. We were told that we would start training on Friday so we would have the next few days off. We made it home and again turned on the fireplace. I then started making dinner which required preheating the Convection oven.
With the convection oven on and the fireplace on, we started smelling that odor again, this time getting stronger. I started investigating the smell and was drawn to our electrical service panel by the front door. I touched it and it was very hot. I pulled the cover and saw the cause of all the odor.
Several of the neutral wires were burning.
I went out and shut the power off at the post and came back in to make sure everything cooled down. I am not sure why this happened. We did not have any problems at Palm Desert the last two weeks. However since the time that we had our solar installed we have not run the air conditioners. We did for the first time at Palm Desert and the when we moved up here to Big Bear we used the fireplace and the convection oven for the first time. We are thinking the problem has to be tied to one of these appliances.
One wire is either burnt in two or had some how broken. We do have one breaker that tripped which may be the front A/C but I am not quite sure as yet. It seems that my solar installer forgot to re-label what he had moved around so now I am not sure which circuit has tripped. I called him and sent him pictures and he is convinced it is the front A/C also.
He is reviewing the wiring from several pictures I am sending him and he has been on the phone with me to help diagnose the problem. We are still working on it. Once we come up with a root cause I will have to take each breaker out and re-wire them to make sure the wires are good with plenty of insulation. If I was not getting ready to start a job we would be heading back to Phoenix and I would have him do it.
Now with this all going on we are sleeping with one eye open. Since we have no power coming to the rig we can not use our electric blankets so I turned on the furnace. It is 12 volt so it will be okay to use. It started up fine and as I was trying to fall asleep I noticed that it cycled normally a few times. I fell asleep and woke up a few hours later and it was cold in the rig. The furnace should be coming on.
I got up and turned the thermostat up trying to have it start up. Nothing happened. I thought that I may be out of propane but my refrigerator was showing LP was okay. I thought that maybe the bottle was getting too low for the furnace but had enough pressure for the fridge. I went outside to change the LP tanks.
This is when I discovered that it was snowing. Great! No power, no heat. It was not a lot of snow but at least an inch which easily made it over my slippers. I was really awake now and not very happy. I changed the tank and went back inside to try to start the furnace. It started up long enough to heat up the rig through one cycle but then quit again.
Each time I tried to start it the blower would come on for about 10 seconds then it would all shut down. After three times it finally locked out and I had to power off the thermostat to get it to re-set. I was not sure why the furnace would not run so I just went back to bed and we covered up with lots of blankets.
Wednesday morning I got on the internet by using my pc battery and retrieved the furnace manual. It was not much help. I started searching the forums for people with similar problems and then I discovered a very reasonable explanation. We are at 7000 feet. The air here is too thin making the fuel mixture too rich. The furnace sensors will not let the furnace light if it is too rich. (Safety Feature)
I learned that sometimes it will light and other times it will not. It is very sporadic. My furnace is acting exactly like what other people have posted and they said that their furnace operates normally once they get to lower elevations. So I am not going to do anything on the furnace as yet until we get off the mountain. In the mean time we have an electric heater that does a pretty good job of keeping it bearable in the rig. That is assuming that you have electricity to the rig. (Sarcasm)
So now my priority is to get heat to the rig, so I ran an extension cord from the power pole under my slide seals and I can run an electric heater, and keep our laptops charged off of one 20 amp receptacle. I have a 30 amp to 20 amp adapter that I also plugged into the 30 amp receptacle which I then ran another cord where we could at least power up the TV and satellite. We have our lights due to them being on the 12 volt system. I just have to use them sparingly because I can not recharge them. I may get a little charge from the solar panels but we are under the trees so I can not count on that.
Hopefully I can get the root cause determined soon and get it all fixed soon. Once we do I will be keeping the panel cover off and checking it regularly, especially right before we go to bed for awhile. I will not feel comfortable until I can run each appliance and some times several of them at once to make sure we are fixed properly.
While we are up here we are hoping we can see a few bears. We found the gremlins and frankly we don’t care for them much.
Have a Great Day!