Posted April 22, 2014


Furnaces are a must have for cold weather campers or just those cool Montana mornings. The type of furnace in your RV is likely to be a Forced Air LP Furnace. This type of furnace uses a combustion chamber that is heated by burning a propane and air mixture. As air moves around the combustion chamber, the air is heated to the desired temperature and then is blown throughout the camper. To operate a modern RV furnace, simply ensure there is propane in your tanks, turn your thermostat on, and then set the thermostat to the desired temperature. The furnace will automatically cycle on and off to maintain the desired temp.

Note: If you have a brand new camper, the first few times the furnace runs it may emit a burnt smell. This is NORMAL and will be temporary. The smell can be intense and may even set off the smoke alarm. To help eliminate the odor, Big Sky RV recommends opening all the windows and doors, then set the thermostat to 90 degrees and let the furnace run for 1 hour. This process should thoroughly burn off any residue left from the Furnace Manufacturer.

An RV furnace is a 12 Volt/Propane appliance. Which means it will draw on your batteries if left on. Once the battery power starts to get low the burner will quit operating however the furnace motor will continue to run and will run until it completely drains your batteries. So always remember to turn off your furnace at the thermostat while leaving the coach unattended in storage.

A couple things to know about furnaces. First, the furnace must exhaust burnt combustion gases to the exterior of the RV. This means the vent on the outside of the RV is VERY HOT during furnace operation. So when you set up camp, keep in mind of this area and do not block the vent with any obstruction or allow kids to touch it. If the furnace vent becomes blocked, it can be a fire hazard. In some states, insects and/or birds can build a nest in the vent causing a blockage, so if your trailer has been sitting for any period of time, it is a good idea to inspect the exhaust vent for blockage. If there is a sign of any blockage, we recommend you call an RV Service Department for further instructions. Secondly, the furnace has an internal thermal limiting system. If the internal temperature of the furnace becomes too high, the furnace will shut itself down. Most of the time, this problem can be eliminated by not blocking the vents. When you put rugs or storage bins over vents it blocks the air flow necessary for the furnace to function properly. If this happens to you, remove everything blocking the vents, let the unit cool for 10-20 minutes and then restart the furnace. If the furnace continues to limit out, please call the Service Department for further instruction.

If your RV is equipped to handle below freezing temperatures, it is likely that your plumbing and holding tanks rely on the forced air furnace for heat. To minimize freezing your tanks or lines always insure that you have propane and adequate 12V power, wether it is battery power or you are plugged in. If your RV has other heat sources like heat pumps, electric heaters or catalytic radiant heaters, you must also run the forced air furnace to protect your water system.

An RV Furnace has no real scheduled maintenance and should give you years of trouble free operation; however it is possible for components to fail. If you have any questions or concerns or should your furnace fail to operate normally, please contact the service department at 406.587.0039 or 800.877.9606.