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gordnpat

Alde 3020 Overheat Red Fail And Flood

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I’m new to Caravan Talk and this is my second post, the first one being to say “Hi Guys” on the “hello” forum. The following experiences occurred prior to me finding this website via a google search on Alde Overheat problems, and prior to me reading every Alde-related post on this very informative Caravan Heating forum. My wife and I have caravanned since 1972 and this is our first encounter with the Alde heating system. I thought that I’d relate my experience since, though a couple of others mentioned the same problem in passing on other threads, there was no specific discussion of why it occurred and how to prevent it recurring. If any of the Alde technical staff read this, I’d appreciate them popping in with comprehensive advice.

 

We took delivery of our new 2015 model Lunar Clubman SB in Nov 2014, successfully tested the Alde system on our house driveway, and then set off for a few days. The first day and evening the system worked fine. In the middle of the second evening, the system stopped with an “Overheat Red Fail” warning. The Alde Control Panel 3020 013 Operating and Installation Instructions says to reset by disconnecting and reconnecting the 12V supply from the boiler, but nothing else. The Lunar manual doesn’t even mention fault codes. I switched off the Alde system, and after a cold night, I switched it back on and tried re-starting the heater the next morning. It fired up OK, subsequently working with no problem for the remaining two days. On returning home the caravan went into secure storage with everything switched off.

 

Fast forward to last Saturday afternoon the 3rd of May, and I fired up the Alde on our house driveway to get it working before we were to set off the following Monday (today) on only our second foray with this caravan. The outside temperature was 12degC, and I set the system on 3kW electric aiming for 24degC final temp. Then I went to start collecting paraphernalia for the trip. However, on returning later to the caravan I found that when the internal temp had reached 15degC, the Overheat Red Fail warning had activated. I shut down the 12V supply, switched back on, and the warning persisted. So I switched off the heating system.

 

Three hours later, having let the system cool down, I reset the system to the default 22degC and tried again, this time on gas only, thinking that if it got up to 22degC I’d switch over to 1kW electric to see if that was OK. It fired up again, but shortly afterwards with the temp reading 16degC, the system Overheat Red Failed again. Rain was beating on the caravan roof, and my day didn’t seem to be getting any better.

 

It was some time after this that I noticed a blue stain on the carpet adjacent to the shoe locker beneath the wardrobe where the header tank and pump are located. On opening the wardrobe door the walls and base were splattered all over with blue Alde fluid. A couple of the drawers had droplets of antifreeze inside, and the shoe locker was flooded, with fluid seeping out onto the carpet.

 

What apparently happened is that the system really overheated this time and blew a header tankful of fluid out into the wardrobe space. Luckily we hadn’t yet packed the wardrobe, drawers or shoe locker, so no clothes were damaged. The carpet was quickly held under a running tap until all the antifreeze was purged from it.

 

It took me all evening and most of the next morning to fully clean up the mess with several cloths and buckets of hot water, and I now wish that I’d taken a photo beforehand showing what had happened.

 

In other threads people have complained that their wardrobes and clothes smell of antifreeze, so I’m wondering if their caravans may have suffered this system failure prior to their ownership. Some of the fluid will have disappeared down a 1/4in gap between the plastic wheel arch moulding and adjacent floor panels, so I hope that no floor rot is setting in.

 

I now suspect that after every Overheat Red Fail warning, careful bleeding and topping up to the required level with antifreeze mixture may well be essential to clear air locks. So the tyro Alde system owner could do with owning a bottle of antifreeze mixture from day one.

 

The circulation pump still works and is loud in the absence of fluid in the header tank, so clearly it hadn’t been seized before the event.

 

Both Alde and my caravan dealer’s technical dept are closed for the bank holiday so neither could be contacted for immediate advice. I’ve emailed Alde with the foregoing details, and will visit our dealer tomorrow to make an appointment to have the system examined and fixed.

 

Gordon

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Sounds to me that you have any air lock in the boiler itself. Although if the system is expanding to much then it should be coming out the overflow pipe to the outside not the cupboard.

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Had the same fault on my SE fortunately the wardrobe was empty! The 3020 has different sensors than the 2010 ( smaller flat bolt on).

I asked my dealer to replace the boiler sensors its been fine since and tested in Scotland including snow.

 

Its an easy job can be done when you wait, the hardest part is Lunar mount the boiler under the seat bracket which needs to be moved first.

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Hello there. The first thing to check would be the strength of the antifreeze solution. If the expansion tank is empty, a sample can be taken from the drain on the underside of the vehicle. It should measure 50% ethylene glycol, or around -35 C.

 

We also recommend booking in with your dealer to inspect the system and give you peace of mind.

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Hello there. The first thing to check would be the strength of the antifreeze solution. If the expansion tank is empty, a sample can be taken from the drain on the underside of the vehicle. It should measure 50% ethylene glycol, or around -35 C.

 

We also recommend booking in with your dealer to inspect the system and give you peace of mind.

This is a new van, the mixture should be correct. I presume that the system is installed by the caravan dealers and not Alde!

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Yes, some of the very small constructors use a third party installer, but the large UK OEMs install the system and source the heat transfer fluid themselves.

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Surely the even most incompetent can mix a 50/50 concentration. How far out does it need to be to overheat at normal use?

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A measurement between 50 and 40% ethylene glycol is satisfactory. When testing the heat transfer fluid it's best to use a refractometer to measure, and a hydrometer to verify if necessary.

 

Most high grade antifreeze products are also available "ready to use", pre-mixed at 50:50 with deionised water.

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Thanks for your replies guys. The Alde UK Team replied very quickly to my weekend email, in that their reply was sitting in my inbox when I opened it on Tuesday morning following the bank holiday. Their advice was the same as Alde UK’s post in this thread.

 

I took the van into my dealer yesterday afternoon, and they attended to it so fast that at 3:00pm today it was back in our driveway with the heating on for a “soak test”. A highly deserved “Well Done” to Leisure Sales of Brereton, Cheshire, as they were undoubtedly very busy with other caravanners' scheduled tasks with every servicing bay full.

 

They were surprised that all of the header tank’s fluid had been expelled, never having seen it before, and would have expected just a fraction to have flowed out through the overflow tube installed for such an occurrence, which empties beneath the caravan floor. They did say that in the many years they’ve serviced Alde systems, they’ve only replaced one set of sensors and that was a long time ago. Nevertheless, there must have been a significant expansion of vapour and/or air in the heater to force all that the fluid from the header in such a way that it emptied the header tank completely through what looks like a short breather tube in the pump cap, and sprayed the roof, walls and door of the wardrobe with fluid, which then drained into the base of the wardrobe as well as the shoe-cupboard, with a few drops even inside the drawers. It makes me wonder if the overheating carried on for a much longer period than it should have done before the system defaulted to red fail condition.

 

The dealer drained the existing 2-year fluid and tested its strength, finding it at the correct concentration, which deepens the mystery. They’ve replaced it with 5-year fluid using the specialist equipment they have for doing this job, and Lunar have accepted the job under warranty. So here’s hoping that we don’t get a repeat of the problem during the few years my wife and I have remaining to us as caravanners!

 

I’ll pop back here in a couple of days with the results of our soak test, though the current mild weather is unlikely to stress the system very much.

 

Gordon

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Thank you for updating us :)

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Regrettably I have a further update earlier than expected. I'm satisfied that my dealer did a sound job of replenishing the system. However:

 

I switched on the heating at about 5:00pm, with the following control panel settings:

 

1. Initial caravan interior temp 14degC

 

2. Energy source: gas and 1kW electric.

 

3. Daytime setting: 22degC; on time 7:30am; off time 9:30pm

 

4. Night time setting: 18degC; on time 9:31pm; off time 7:29am

 

5. Water heater OFF at the Sargent power panel button.

 

I checked it at 7:15pm and here’s what I found:

 

6. Overheat Red Fail.

 

7. Final indicated interior temp 18degC.

 

8. Header tank level had dropped out of sight (initially 1cm above min, as per spec).

 

9. Droplets of antifreeze on the outside of the reservoir.

 

10. A four-inch diameter puddle of antifreeze at the base of the grey plastic cover in the wardrobe.

 

11. Droplets of antifreeze on all the wires and pipes viewable through the shoe locker, and on the plastic wheel arch moulding.

 

12. Two small 1-inch diameter puddles of antifreeze in the under-bed locker adjacent to the wheel arch moulding.

 

13. No antifreeze on the ground beneath the van.

 

Note that the system didn’t even make it to the crossover time from day to night programme before failing.

 

The van was connected to the mains as normal, and the battery charger was switched on.

 

I’ll make a servicing appointment with my dealer tomorrow, but their schedule could mean it won’t be looked at until June. I hope that they and Alde, and maybe Lunar who installed the system, can between them provide a definitive solution to this problem.

 

Gordon

Edited by gordnpat

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You didn't make it clear did the dealer replace the two sensors? Or just recharge and check the system? My caravan the fluid actually boiled I watched it!

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Do you have a normal radiator in the bathroom or a towel rail. If this is not bled properly then the air heats up and expands, this would push the 'excess' liquid' out of the tank(but it should go out the overflow). once there is not enough fluid for the circulating pump to be submerged in, it cannot circulate and thus the system cools apart from the boiler which may send it in to overheat red fail mode.

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If it's not too late me thinks it's time to rapidly read up on the Sale of Goods Act and formally reject the caravan with your dealer (6 months time limit ?).

After that you can take a bit more time listening to what the dealer/Alde/Lunar suggest for a solution - at least you have a formal stake in the ground.

 

Edit: With a new caravan under warranty it's not your responsibilty to check that the recent dealer fix has replaced the right parts and bled the system properly.

Edited by onewheelonmywagon

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@ PaulR. No sensors have been replaced at this time.

 

@ Brocher12. Thanks for your explanation, which is more useful info to know. Ours has the serpentine towel rail. Following the red fail, I checked the bleed nipple and fluid came out immediately with no air. So presumably there was no trapped air at that point. It was only after that I thought to look inside the wardrobe, etc. Wouldn't a big air bubble inside a radiator expand with the heat and have the same fluid-dumping effect as a bubble in the towel rail? Or perhaps the radiator's larger surface area provides better cooling for the trapped air, resulting in less expansion.

 

Gordon

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Thanks Onewheel. We paid for it on the 11th of October last year, so unfortunately we're just out of the 6 month timescale, if that indeed applies. Must check.

 

Gordon

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@ PaulR. No sensors have been replaced at this time.

 

@ Brocher12. Thanks for your explanation, which is more useful info to know. Ours has the serpentine towel rail. Following the red fail, I checked the bleed nipple and fluid came out immediately with no air. So presumably there was no trapped air at that point. It was only after that I thought to look inside the wardrobe, etc. Wouldn't a big air bubble inside a radiator expand with the heat and have the same fluid-dumping effect as a bubble in the towel rail? Or perhaps the radiator's larger surface area provides better cooling for the trapped air, resulting in less expansion.

 

Gordon

IMO you can't get that big an air bubble within the pipework and radiators, without that bubble also forming an air lock.

Thus the fluid will not circulate and that bubble gain heat and in turn expand.

So I don't think an in pipework bubble can be the issue. A looped off towel rail though could but your finding that full of fluid suggested that had not been the case.

 

Air in the boiler ought to freely vent as the hot fluid take off is at the top of the boiler and rises directly to the header, or should assuming it is piped up correctly.

 

From here IMO it points to the boiler overheating causing steam rather than an air issue; that suggests the boiler's temperature sensing system [sensor, wiring or computing] is in some way at fault.

 

Edit: plus it has all been recharged with fluid and primed and again failed so the chances of air locks giving the issue twice is unlikely. Air expanding in my experience simply enables it to migrate on to a position where it forms an air lock, so a system that worked on delivery or fluid change, then later simply stops circulating a few uses later but otherwise does not malfunction.

Edited by JTQ

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Thank JTQ. The fluid expellation this last time was much less violent than before and none reached the roof and walls of the wardrobe. However, enough overflowed from the header to form puddles, so that the overflow tube was clearly not up to the task of draining the liquid in the time available. The fact that the fluid still overflowed into the wardrobe strongly suggests that it wasn't the result of the slow expansion of an air bubble which grew along with the gradual rise in fluid temp from 14deg to 18deg, which would have allowed time for the overflow tube to drain the excess.

 

Like you, I'm of the opinion that steam is being produced because of a boiler malfunction, and blowing out the fluid.

 

Gordon

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I can see no reason why the concentration of the fluid should make any difference at all. As with domestic systems, microbore, twin pipe or, as the caravan is, single pipe. Any additives are there for specific reasons but will not alter the physics of how the system works.

 

If heat is being produced at a faster rate than the pump can dicipate it it could build up an explosive situation. Differential readings between boiler and rad could indicate an issue. Having said that, if the pump failed, (or did not circulate sufficiently). The boiler should cut off.

 

All points to boiler control sensors to me.

 

Seems the OP has a decent dealer which is good as Lunar are so slow in dealing with after sales. I have been waiting for a wardrobe door since the PDI in Feb and 3 weeks for a door blind.

 

John

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As JTQ states there is effectively no other radiators but rather circulation pipes and fins installed at appropriate points. Less volume for expanding and expelling air. If the radiator is full MAYBE the airplug has moved to the expansion tank, try topping up with 50/50 mix and heating again, the fluid shouldnt take too long to heat up, feel the pipes around the van as it heats up before its too hot, you may find a cold spot.

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Any additives are there for specific reasons but will not alter the physics of how the system works.

 

John

John, Additives can have a huge impact on the physics of how the system works. Effecting boiling point, viscosity and ability of the fluid to retain/release dissolved gases. Edited by MillieDog

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John, Additives can have a huge impact on the physics of how the system works. Effecting boiling point, viscosity and ability of the fluid to retain/release dissolved gases.

Agreed but heated water circulates, in this respect the Alde system does not differ from a domestic system. And the additives are there for specific reasons, antifreeze, corrosion inhibitor, ani knock, for example. Not to aid the flow or convection. That was my point.

 

So as you say, the additives can have an effect but if none were there the system should still work. To blame the problem on the mixture made no sense to me and changing said mixture does not seem to have fixed the problem.

 

John

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John,

Water, with or with out additives should flow but are susceptible to air locks dependent on circuit design. Additives change the properties of the fluid, see attached chart for glycol. Higher boiling point for one.

 

post-57752-0-61080500-1431006028_thumb.png

Edited by Brocher12

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Gordnpat, I downloaded the old service manual and looked on YouTube at the replacement procedure. (I am a retired service engineer) Which is why I insisted the dealer replaced the two sensors. I assure you its an easy job and I would have done it myself.

 

You have exactly the same fault as we did. I did note the sensors are different on the later boilers. Maybe not as reliable? I guess we will find out. Can I suggest instead of asking for a new caravan you ask for the sensors be changed and enjoy your caravan,

We are. :)

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Positive things are happening - fast!

 

I visited my dealer this morning and gave them a paper copy of my post #11 to help to describe how the problem had repeated and they asked me to take the van in this afternoon. As soon as I arrived with the van, it was whisked into a workshop bay for a deep examination. My dealer, Alde and Lunar are together working hard on solving the problem, and a couple of sensors were already in the post by then. My wife and I were shown the system replenishing pump which is a beefy bit of kit, together with drums of genuine Alde pink 5-year fluid. It was explained that after the system had been filled, it was run for several hours on gas (ie high power) as a soak test, and no fault had occurred. Indeed, when I set out to program the system for day/night operation, I noted that the system had been set to run continuously at 28. 5degC for the test run.

 

So my wife and I are both very pleased and impressed with the way all the participants are bustin' a gut to solve the problem, and we're looking forward to having a fully functioning Alde system in the near future.

 

Gordon

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