RV Fires Are Bad News - Dutchmen Owners

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Old 03-01-2016, 07:07 AM   #1
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RV Fires Are Bad News

Don't take it for granted that the people building these things know what they are doing. My 2013, 3905 Voltage Toy Hauler nearly caught fire from the refrigerator chimney discharge.
My refrigerator is not equipped with through the roof vent, but rather an upper ventilation panel. Located inside this upper panel, the chimney vent is installed approximately 1 inches from a piece of wood panel that forms a cabinet on the other side. On top of the chimney pipe there is a metal chimney cap that diverts the flow of hot gases in two opposite directions. A T shaped cap. With the cap in place, the hot gases are now being released about 1 inch from the wood panel.
The wood panel shows significant signs of pyrolysis where the gases are discharged from the pipe. (Definition & Explanation of Pyrolysis)
The link above describes Pyrolysis and why it should be addressed in installations of all chimneys regardless of size. I am a retired Fire Battalion Chief with 33 years experience and I can assure you, my RV was very close to catching fire and I am equally sure that it eventually would have but for my intervention. Pyrolysis is a process that may happen after several uses of the offending appliance or after several hundred but once the temperature is sufficient to alter the composition of the wood, IT WILL HAPPEN SOONER OR LATER!
If you have a similar situation, Take a look where the hot gases are being vented and make sure it's not turning any wood near the discharge black.
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Old 03-02-2016, 05:06 PM   #2
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Hate to hear about defective design and construction in RVs.

It boggles the mind that this sort of thing happens with impunity in the RV industry. Try something like that in any other sort of construction and it would be condemed.
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Old 03-02-2016, 08:14 PM   #3
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What's the source of the "hot gases" you're referring to? I understand that my refrig runs on 110v and propane. In propane mode, there is a pilot-type flame. Is that the heat source you're referring to? Is there a heat source using 110v? I can't say I've ever heard of any our RV's burning up because of the problem you're referring to. Come to think of it, there is a rather long vent cover on my roof for the refrigerator. Or is that for the stove. Oh well....
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Old 03-02-2016, 08:37 PM   #4
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RV Fire Heat Source

Yes, Basically, your RV refrigerator uses heat, either from an electric heating element or an LP-gas flame. The heat starts a chemical reaction, and evaporation and condensation causes the refrigerator to cool. In my case the chimney that vents the hot exhaust from that little pilot light was very close to a wooden wall that is part of a cabinet next to the refrigerator on the inside of the rig. I didn't even try getting satisfaction from the RV manufacturer since they pretty much have been bought/sold at least once since my rig was built in 20012/13. I find they really don't and won't do any custom builds and they do not want to deal with the customer directly. That means dealing with an RV dealer for warranty work and that drill takes months. I came up with my own little diversion kit and installed a metal plate between the chimney and the wood but decided to take it one step further just to make sure it was't still a problem. I contacted Norcold, (the frig manufacture). They were very interested in what happened and offered a "kit" solution as well as covered the cost of installation at any one of their Norcold delaers. So I chose a local RV repair shop (Idle Wheels) in Placerville, CA. They installed the kit and verified the metal plate I had installed was also a good idea!
I have attached some pics of my rig with the side vent situation to show where the problem was. I don't think it would be possible for this to happen with the vertical vent extending through the roof with the long cover you describe, since the hot exhaust gases are vented completely to the outside.
Good luck! Better safe than sorry when it comes to fires in these thngs. It's never a good outcome!!
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Old 03-02-2016, 09:57 PM   #5
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I see the problem now after looking in more detail at your photos - your kitchen is in a slide so it won't be able to vent to the roof. Hope things get worked out for you.

BTW, I agree that Dutchmen could care less about we owners and that's sad. It's one of the reasons I'm considering dumping my TH for a Class A pusher. Many Tiffen owners I've talked to, for example, speak in high praise for Bob Tiffen and his company. That's a company that stands behind its product even after the warranty expiries.
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Old 03-03-2016, 05:01 AM   #6
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We tried the Diesel pusher first. I like to have road transportation once I arrive to my destination and set up camp. The toy hauler works well to bring along the Polaris RZR which is our main entertainment and pleasure to go exploring with!
The pusher would work well if your not into an off road only vehicle because of course you can always tow alternative transportation.
Just trying to have it all, but I'm not sure I've figured out what that is yet! Good luck to you!
FYI, other than the refer problem and weak slides, I love my TH!
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Old 03-03-2016, 09:11 PM   #7
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Now I'm concerned after seeing your pictures. My kitchen is in a slide as well and has those side vents.

Certainly something I needto keep an eye on.
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Old 03-04-2016, 10:44 AM   #8
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That is on my list of things to check when I uncover my 300BHSL as my kitchen slide has the same configuration as well.

Thank you very much for photos and advice!
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