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ALDE heating fluid low?


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Caravan was purchased new in Oct 2017.  Last winter the level for the ALDE fluid was above minimum and heating worked fine.  Caravan went in for a service and on collection we stayed on site.  Heating worked, but seem to struggle to get to the correct temperature as it took longer than normal.  On checking the fluid level it was below the minimum mark, but you could still see fluid.  I then bled the system and a fair amount of air came out.   Previous to this no issue with heating as used it last winter.  Heating okay.

Today 2 weeks later we went to the caravan which is in storage and noticed that we could not see any liquid as it was below the minimum mark.  I had a litre of fluid and topped it however was quite surprised that it took 750ml of liquid or three quarters of a bottle.  I cannot see if it is leaking out anywhere but thought it was a lot of liquid to be putting into the system.

Not sure if the very low level after the service is coincidence or what, as they do not check the ALDE system when they do a service.  Surely the fluid should not "boil" off or evaporate?  Any suggestions?  Thanks.

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Don't forget that the level drops slowly when you switch it off, probably below the min mark. Mine has just got to the point (nearly 2 yrs since it was re filled by Alde) where it is above the min mark when running but after switching off and waiting overnight its barely visible in the bottom of the tank. I will top it up a nats-cock when I am out next week with the heating on. Reminds me I have to buy a drop.

Ern

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When cold the fluid level should be 1cm above the minimum mark. Significant fluid loss should not happen in normal use unless a good quantity of air has been bled out but small amounts of topping up over time may be required. When my caravan goes in for a normal annual service they check the fluid level and run the Alde system as part of it.

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12 minutes ago, Legal Eagle said:

When cold the fluid level should be 1cm above the minimum mark. Significant fluid loss should not happen in normal use unless a good quantity of air has been bled out but small amounts of topping up over time may be required. When my caravan goes in for a normal annual service they check the fluid level and run the Alde system as part of it.

Minor disagreement - When cold the fluid should not be below the mark. That's what its there for. 

Agree that the service should check and adjust it though. However we would be charged for the 5ml they added (about £40 should do it).;)

Ern

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I had this in my Pastiche while we were away a few weeks ago.

I traced the loss to the pressure relief valve on the boiler unit ( a brass coloured unit sitting in the large rubber circulation hose.) Initially I place a container under the overflow pipe under the caravan to collect the overspill but then decided to apply the usual remedy we older motorists used to use our car and gave the valve-body a few 'measured' thumps and that seemed to resettle the valve.

Might be worth considering replacing though if it is that 

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I would suggest that you check the elbow joints and bleed points under the seating/beds. I had the same issue with fluid levels dropping. Fluid was leaking out of the Bleed point and also from the joint where the pipe is joined to the elbow. Not a lot but I didn't realise and it was left about 12 months before being spotted on service. 

Mike Wild. Mazda CX-7 towing Lunar Clubman Saros SB.

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25 minutes ago, Legal Eagle said:

When cold the fluid level should be 1cm above the minimum mark. Significant fluid loss should not happen in normal use unless a good quantity of air has been bled out but small amounts of topping up over time may be required. When my caravan goes in for a normal annual service they check the fluid level and run the Alde system as part of it.

It is now 1cm above the minimum mark, but having to put in 3/4 of a litre is a concern especially as last winter it was at the correct level.  I will probably need to bleed the system again the next time we go out.

7 minutes ago, Mike Wild said:

I would suggest that you check the elbow joints and bleed points under the seating/beds. I had the same issue with fluid levels dropping. Fluid was leaking out of the Bleed point and also from the joint where the pipe is joined to the elbow. Not a lot but I didn't realise and it was left about 12 months before being spotted on service. 

That was what we reasoned and checked as much as possible that we can see visibly, but could not see any fluid escaping.   Unfortunately next time we can check will be when we use the caravan over the Christmas period.  In the meantime I have taken pictures of the fluid level while it is cold.

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I wonder if they could have knocked the drain tube during the service - while oiling/greasing the corner steadies?  (If of course they did that!)

Our fluid level always sits at or just below the min. mark.  In almost 4 years, I've twice topped up the fluid by about half a mugful so it was between the min and max marks.  Each time the system has vented the extra liquid within 24 hrs, leaving it sitting at the min mark.

Give Alde a call and see what they suggest? ?

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2 hours ago, Ern said:

Minor disagreement - When cold the fluid should not be below the mark. That's what its there for. 

Agree that the service should check and adjust it though. However we would be charged for the 5ml they added (about £40 should do it).;)

When cold the fluid should be 1cm ABOVE the minimum mark. Also confirmed on the Alde website, my Alde approved service centre and user manual. Quote direct from the website FAQ section:

How much glycol should there be in the expansion tank?

When the liquid is cold, the level in a system of normal size should be about 1 cm above MIN. The bigger the heating system, the more the liquid expands and so the level should be lower when the system is cold.

Edited by Legal Eagle
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Having bled the system and got air out, the fluid will drop, as air was replacing it...

Larry from Essex

2019 Bailey Unicorn Cabrera 2017 Kuga 2. 0 TDCi 150

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1 hour ago, Durbanite said:

It is now 1cm above the minimum mark, but having to put in 3/4 of a litre a as last winter it was at the correct level.  I will probably need to bleed the system again the next time we go out.

 

 

Another point to consider.

If I recall you have a large van and one with both the convector circuit and in floor heating?

 

Should that be the case then compared to many your system will have a greater overall volume of fluid and consequently when at peak temperature have to cope with a greater volume of expanded fluid.

That leaves the possibility that you can't run with the standard 1 cm, without from that level the expanded volume being enough to overflow from the tank?

 

Therefore, if that is the case, adding up to the standard level simply results in, during a high heat output demand thus the fluid reaching its peak temperature, the excess of fluid you put in is “dumped”.

I even with just a convector circuit found out it proved pointless filling to two cm above the minimum mark, in that come the cooler times when all got very hot, it returned when cold to 1 cm. Mine simply dumped the excess it could not cope with.

 

If yours carefully monitored to know that it does not drop further than what it appears to find its tolerable level, on the mark, then I would accept it as the physics of the thing.

If it does not continue to drop then there is no circuit leak, if it does then it needs finding.

A system leak would not stop just because the level dropped to the lower mark, but expansion dumping will happened irrespective of the volume used to top up, if the circuit volume is greater than the tank allows for expansion.

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The fluid level used todrop on my Buccaneer and I added over 1L of fluid to the system over the first year I had the van. It eventually stabilised and when cold the level was just above the min mark.

The fluid was changed this year and the fitter said it took a long time to get all of the air out of the system, especially with it having the under floor heating. They used the old fashioned way of getting all the air out of the system by raising the front of the van as high as possible and bleeding the air then raising the rear and bleeding the air. The level has not moved after the fluid change so I think all the air must be out of the system.

The fitter did say that if the fluid level dropped then have a look under the front near side seats at the very front of the van as the push fit pipes were vunerable to getting knocked.

 

BMW X6 M50D + Buccaneer Schooner 2017

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15 hours ago, JTQ said:

 

Another point to consider.

If I recall you have a large van and one with both the convector circuit and in floor heating?

 

Should that be the case then compared to many your system will have a greater overall volume of fluid and consequently when at peak temperature have to cope with a greater volume of expanded fluid.

That leaves the possibility that you can't run with the standard 1 cm, without from that level the expanded volume being enough to overflow from the tank?

 

Therefore, if that is the case, adding up to the standard level simply results in, during a high heat output demand thus the fluid reaching its peak temperature, the excess of fluid you put in is “dumped”.

I even with just a convector circuit found out it proved pointless filling to two cm above the minimum mark, in that come the cooler times when all got very hot, it returned when cold to 1 cm. Mine simply dumped the excess it could not cope with.

 

If yours carefully monitored to know that it does not drop further than what it appears to find its tolerable level, on the mark, then I would accept it as the physics of the thing.

If it does not continue to drop then there is no circuit leak, if it does then it needs finding.

A system leak would not stop just because the level dropped to the lower mark, but expansion dumping will happened irrespective of the volume used to top up, if the circuit volume is greater than the tank allows for expansion.

What you are saying is correct.  In our first year of ownership we had to top up as the system needed bleeding.  It then settled down and further need for bleeding or topping up.  The worry here is that when last the heating was used in probably April, no issue with level or heating. 

In September this year noticed that level had dropped to minimum line, but that was while heating was on.  In November level was below minimum when heating was on.  Checked yesterday and could not see any fluid and it took 3/4 litre to top up to 1cm above line.

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43 minutes ago, Durbanite said:

What you are saying is correct.  In our first year of ownership we had to top up as the system needed bleeding.  It then settled down and further need for bleeding or topping up.  The worry here is that when last the heating was used in probably April, no issue with level or heating. 

In September this year noticed that level had dropped to minimum line, but that was while heating was on.  In November level was below minimum when heating was on.  Checked yesterday and could not see any fluid and it took 3/4 litre to top up to 1cm above line.

 

You unfortunately do have a problem, given that info.

The only real reference for the fluid level we can use  is with the system cold,  otherwise the expansion of the fluid and traces of air primarly,  throw any usable reference out.

Best bet is booking into Alde UK.

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7 minutes ago, CraigP2005 said:

Is it possible your service agent attempted a fluid change. After doing mine it has settled down quickly level stays the same no top ups required. 

 

I missed reading that the system had been serviced with a fluid change between April and September, which of course brings other causes into play.

Post a  fluid change where the system has not been subjected to a heat "soaking", one could expect it to drop.

A failing of some  sloppy PDI's, not "running the system in" properly with a good heat soaking.

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44 minutes ago, JTQ said:

 

I missed reading that the system had been serviced with a fluid change between April and September, which of course brings other causes into play.

Post a  fluid change where the system has not been subjected to a heat "soaking", one could expect it to drop.

A failing of some  sloppy PDI's, not "running the system in" properly with a good heat soaking.

The caravan had it s normal service in October and all they are supposed to have done is check to see if the heating works okay on gas.   They do not check the ALDE system on electric or the level of the fluid in the system.

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This is the reply from the caravan dealer regarding my inquiry;

 

I have spoken to my manager, and he has advised that the Alde fluid level was checked while the van was in for service and the level was found to be acceptable whilst here, but transit of the vehicle can often cause air bubbles and effect the level of the fluid. We always recommend checking your Alde fluid level regularly and topping up as and when required.

Seems that moving the caravan from the workshop to a pitch which is a distance of about 500m caused the fluid to drop significantly and also at the same time to get a lot of air into the system?

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I can understand that caravan movement will get air out of the system, causing the level to drop - but once topped-up shouldn't drop again on subsequent movement.

 

If you repeatedly need to top-up to the minimum mark then the system is leaking somewhere - or was badly filled or refilled.

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Have you checked the auto air bleed valve on the boiler, it is the small brass cylinder plumbed into the top outlet hose, it may be passing which would allow fluid to flow through the small pipe. Check the end o the pipe under the van or remove the pipe from the valve and check for fluid.

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5 hours ago, solarpower said:

Have you checked the auto air bleed valve on the boiler, it is the small brass cylinder plumbed into the top outlet hose, it may be passing which would allow fluid to flow through the small pipe. Check the end o the pipe under the van or remove the pipe from the valve and check for fluid.

This happened to our Clubman,lost all the fluid through the bleed valve. Turned out to be a known fault and all put right under warranty. 
 

John.

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