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Old 09-27-2013, 08:04 PM   #1
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Default Insects clogging propane appliances

Forgive me if this is a topic that has already been discussed...I just didn't see it.
I just gave a repairman a bunch of money to inform me that a spider had built a nest in the firing tube of my Dometic refrigerator. With the tube clogged with a round egg sac, propane could not reach the sparking end of the electrode and ignite in the proper location. Instead, a cloud of gas must have developed and the resulting explosion singed the insulation off of the electrode wire near the exit hole in the brass gas orifice which is located at the entrance to the firing tube. The propane function on the refrigerator then stopped working. We were able to use it on 120V, though. With a new $30 electrode and wire we were back in business.
The repairman was a guy who makes a living driving a mobile RV repair truck. He said that insects clogging propane appliances are his bread and butter. He had already done the same repair to three other RVs that week and it was only Wedneday! I asked for his advice. He said that in addition to regularly checking the firing and exhaust areas of propane applicances for problems, many customers install insect screens. He said spiders are a problem in the small firing tubes in refrigerators, but mud daubers and cellulose-nest paper wasps are a real problem for the furnaces and water heaters (at least here in Southern California).
I have only done a preliminary search for screens. My initial impression is that some of the products are ugly exterior add-ons. Some of the reviews even say that the "stainless steel" mesh rusts.
Anyone with advice, especially if you have found screen products which hide on the interior and are truly rust-proof, quality stainless steel?
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Old 09-27-2013, 09:47 PM   #2
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They make replacement window screen from fabric these days and that may be your answer.
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Old 09-28-2013, 10:25 AM   #3
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You need to be a little careful with using regular window screen material. The first issue is air flow. The mesh is close enough that air flow is actually diminished to the point that your burners will need to be adjusted for proper air/fuel mixture. If you use the fiberglass type, be aware that it will melt from the heat exhaust of the furnace definitely and probably the WH. If you use the metal type, it will rust quite quickly due to the increase galvanic action of the applied exhaust heat.

I've never considered the outside stainless steel screens to be ugly, but, I guess like all other things it is a personal decision. They've been around for years, are manufactured so that the mesh is small enough to do the required job, but, large enough not to affect air flow. Are external so that they can be replaced and cleaned if they get dirty. I think I had one that had just started to rust (again, it was on the hottest exhaust port; the furnace), but, that was after well over 5 years. I got my value for the money and even then it didn't look bad and I never replaced it (traded that trailer in on a new one). We live in the country and have lots of wasps of all kinds, wolf spiders galore, and a host of other "creepy crawlies" and the, tried and true, commercial, external SS screens do their job...now if mice were only that easy...



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Old 09-29-2013, 02:59 PM   #4
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I second webslave's note. I've read some rtech eports on the Good Sam site that says it's a bad idea to put anything over the ports, but I've used the same stainless covers on several trailers and had no problems... and no wasp nests!

The issue with the fridge is a bit different, re: spider nests. Those buggers will get into about any place, so it seems annual inspections after storage are the best policy. I'll need to add that to MY list!
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Old 09-29-2013, 04:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fischnet
sic...

The issue with the fridge is a bit different, re: spider nests. Those buggers will get into about any place, so it seems annual inspections after storage are the best policy. I'll need to add that to MY list!
I have had good luck with the Stainless Steel screen for the regfrigerators...flat pieces of the same stuff the other screen units are made of, but, they have to be wire tie wrapped in place. Once on, a yearly spray of a good "long lasting" bug spray keeps the little ones out and the big ones won't fit through the mesh and being inverted and sheltered (inside the housing, basically), the bug spray doesn't wash off in the rain.



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