As the days start to shorten and the hottest part of the year falls behind us, our minds start to go to camp-fires, woolly blankets and maybe even giving the long-ignored diesel heater a bit of a run to see if it still works. As any self-respecting grey nomad will tell you – living or travelling in a cold caravan or RV is no fun, and the best way to stay warm apart from a glass of red and a good cuddle is a diesel heater.
The boys at Dieselheat in Tassie know a bit about long cold winters and also diesel heaters. As one of the few businesses that specialise in them, their advice on Winter preparation for a long neglected heater goes like this.
Firstly, checkout the fuel, if it’s been in the sun, or has any chance of getting water in it replace it. Fuel in clear tanks will almost certainly have issues and even in good black tanks condensation can build up. It has been a wet couple of years and so water in fuel is common at the moment, so before starting the heater check for mud or wasp nests in the exhaust and air intake – wasps can get right up inside the exhaust or air inlet and if they partially block these pipes they can cause the heater to not start or run rich and soot up once it starts. If you see any signs at all, pull the whole intake and exhaust off the heater and wash it all out.
Once you have done this, check your batteries are charged and then give the heater a kick in the guts and see if it starts. Check the exhaust, it should smoke slightly for less than 1/2 min and then clear up. Run the heater on high for a while and check the exhaust is clear, odourless and smokeless. If the heater is excessively smoky on startup, or is smelly or smoky once warm, consider getting it serviced as these are sure signs a service is imminent and it’s better to get it done before Winter really sets in!!!
Whist you are out there checking your exhaust – pay a thought for your neighbours. A properly installed diesel heater should emit a low roar at the exhaust end. It should be hard to hear outside the van beside you, say 10m away and impossible to hear inside the van beside you. If your exhaust or intake is not properly set up, or your muffler is not working properly, or not there at all…. do the right thing and sort it out.
Winter is a special time to travel – cosy fires, cosy vans and those clear cold days, or of course go north and avoid it all together – but as you head off spare a thought for your loyal diesel heater, give it a little love now so that it will be there when you need it on those unexpected cold nights.