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Espar B4L Heater not starting at Elevation

37455 Views 322 Replies 60 Participants Last post by  brío
So I installed a Espar B4L in my 2020 transit, under the passenger seat and have a problem with the heater starting when I am at elevation.

I live in Boise ID, at around 3k feet elevation, when down here in the valley my heater starts 99% of the time without issues. When I travel to my local ski area around 6800K feet the heater NEVER starts first try and generally will take around 30+ minutes of trying to get the thing started. Once it does starts at elevation, it will run absolutely fine stopping and starting. When I got back down in elevation it also will always start fine, and then back up to elevation I again have the problem.

Ive completely taken apart the entire gas line from the pickup in the tank all the way to the heater, ensuring rise, fittings, etc are perfect... still have the same problem of getting it started at elevation.

Heatso has been sorta OK to work with, but I feel like they dont really know either. They will be sending me a new ECU (when they get them in a couple weeks).

Has anyone had this problem, is there a trick to getting it started I could use until i get the root cause sorted?

Appreciate any pointers!
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Here is my write up on the espar standpipe install. I live in Montana and am always at elevation with the van. These wont work for long at elevation without the correct standpipe. I am sure if you are doing a few days a year on ski trips it will be fine, but I cant imagine much beyond that.

Hello all, new user here.
This seems like a good place to seek help with my espar/transit issues. Being new here and to forums in general, don't hesitate to let me know if I'm not following procedures or should post this in a better place.
I got a 2018 Transit 250 van a couple months ago that had a heater installed but not working. Having installed a diesel espar before successfully I thought I could get it up and running. I mean it's not rocket science, right? Previous owner had taken it back to the original installer (Tiny Watts) and a espar service center with negative results.So, it came with the espar dip tube (uninstalled) and was told that it was the solution. So, dropped the skid plates and fuel tank, installed dip tube, replaced all fuel lines, connections, hose clamps, and fuel pump. Realized the ECU was needing re-flashed. Got it back, ran it for a couple hours in the shop. All good. Parked it outside, then next morning after it cooled down (35F) it wouldn't run. Started the van and warmed up interior to 70F and the heater ran fine. Next day, same thing. I have a heat sensor on the way from Heatso. So far when it runs, no air bubbles. I drove the van 5 miles, max 35mph, tried to start the (warm) heater, and no go. Looked underneath and to my surprise the fuel line is full of bubbles! I have no fuel leaking anywhere, all connections are new. How can that much air get into the fuel line that fast? Combustion intake and exhaust are pointed back so not forcing air into combustion tube, and fuel line. Any ideas? Driving me crazy.
PS. The heater has not worked properly since it was installed in 2018. Previous owner gave up.
 

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Could be a fuel-line leak, or could be fuel cavitation. Cavitation occurs more readily at high elevations. Gasoline cavitates more easily than diesel. If cavitation is a problem, you want to minimize the 'suction vacuum' pressure. Reduce suction vacuum by shortening the length of the pull-side fuel line (by possibly moving the metering pump closer to the tank) and/or by reducing the vertical lift on the pull side. The diameter of the fuel line sometimes causes problems. I think you want a fuel line with internal diameter of 2mm. Good luck!
4700' elevation. No fuel line leaks. The pump is as close and as high as I can get it. 2mm ID fuel line and pickup tube.
All good suggestions.
 

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Do you have the fault codes?

The pump being too high was my problem as heat collected under the van aggravating the cavitation. Moving the pump to an area with more airflow cured me of my problems.
The air in the fuel lines happened while driving the van. The heater was not running. If the heater is that tempermental I'm surprised they ever are reliable.
 

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I just posted a write-up consolidating my heater troubleshooting saga with info from Espar support, this forum and a couple other sources.

If you are interested, you can check it out here: Espar Heater Installation and Troubleshooting - RidingRoadsAndTrails

I'm open to feedback (negative or positive) on the write-up.

My heater starts first try every time and runs until I shut it off. I've tested it up to 11,000 feet in elevation (Juniper Pass) and have not had a single issue since moving the fuel pump to an area with better airflow.

Thanks again to all the folks on this forum for the help along the way!
And a SAGA it was. I am on a similar quest and I hope your write up will lead me in the right direction. I am just getting in communication with Mike from Espar so I think I have finally found someone with the Knowledge and interest to find the solution. Your write up is fantastic. I'm sure many will benefit from your efforts. Thank you, Scott
 

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I just posted a write-up consolidating my heater troubleshooting saga with info from Espar support, this forum and a couple other sources.

If you are interested, you can check it out here: Espar Heater Installation and Troubleshooting - RidingRoadsAndTrails

I'm open to feedback (negative or positive) on the write-up.

My heater starts first try every time and runs until I shut it off. I've tested it up to 11,000 feet in elevation (Juniper Pass) and have not had a single issue since moving the fuel pump to an area with better airflow.

Thanks again to all the folks on this forum for the help along the way!
So Mike says I should have 4x1.25mm fuel line (thats 4mm OD, 1.25mm wall thickness, 1.5mm ID) on the output side of the pump and 4x1mm (2mm ID) on the input side. Since it sounds like your heater runs perfectly, I'm wondering if that's your fuel line setup? The parts breakdown calls for 2mm ID all the way, but then Mike probably knows better.

I think I am having a temperature related issue but not like yours. When it's cold outside (20-35F) the heater fails to run. I run 3 start cycles. No joy. I start the van and warm the interior to 60-70F and the heater starts and runs fine. I have run this trial 4 times with same outcome every time. Same 12a and 128,129 codes. I suspect the combination heat sensor is bad or it's not making good thermal contact with the heater. Or the ECU is not programmed for the correct temp to keep running. But just had the ECU flashed in Canada. Mike says the temp sensors never go bad and it appears to be tight it the recess it sits in. I'm waiting on a new sensor.
 

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I did have the benefit of my issue being consistent and easy to reproduce. Here is a pic of my fuel line, this is what came in my kit.

View attachment 166821

Mike told me that they only have 1 version of the firmware in Canada which is the M2 B4L, so if they flashed in Canada you can expect it to be the correct version for this heater. Only Germany has the other versions and they apparently won't release any other versions to Canada.

Have you done the diagnostics for the temperature sensors using the -XS2 connector wires on the EasyStart Pro wiring harness? My results were inconclusive, but I'm chalking it up to me being a spaz. It would be interesting to see if you get different results when the van is cold vs when the van is warm.

View attachment 166822

Did you use the same 4x1.25mm on the input as well?

I did a resistance check on the combo sensor but it was at ambient temp in my shop so seemed to be in the ball park but couldn't check at operating temp (which is?). So yes, inconclusive.
 

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A pain, to put it mildly. I have a QuadVan 4x4 conversion with skidplates from the front bumper to the back of the fuel tank. I was hoping to never have to drop the fuel tank again in my lifetime. Waiting on the 4x1.25mm fuel line also.
 

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Yes, my kit came with 1 long piece of fuel line, so that is what I have on both sides of the pump.

I suppose you could try to change out the heater side first to see if you get any improvement since the supply side will be a pain.
Got my fuel line and combination heat sensor from Esparparts. One small problem...they sent me 4x1mm which is not what I ordered. Sent several emails to both [email protected] and Mike with no joy so far. I phone ordered the fuel line with Ray and explained that was the size Mike recommended. I hope to get my heater working before summer.
 

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That's a bummer. I did find Ray a little frustrating to deal with but in the end he made everything right for me, except for lost time and shipping costs. You do have to call him to get his attention, he did not respond to any of my emails.
I got the correct fuel line from Heatso in 4 days and cheaper. Still no response from Esparparts. What are the chances of a refund, ha?
 

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Not likely the issue... but are you set up to use the internal temp sensor (default) or have you set it to be the Easy Start Pro internal sensor?

Got this from someone else here:
To open the workshop menu, select the Settings menu (gear Symbol) and then hold the BACK button (arrow back) pressed for longer than 2 seconds while the clock symbol under the gear wheel is flashing.
Scroll to option - CONTROL SENSOR. Select Control unit
Scroll to option - INDICATOR SENSOR. Select Control Unit
Confirm by pressing the operating button.
I am using the Easy Start Pro internal sensor. Not sure how that would have an effect on the failure to run when it's cold inside the van?
Also not sure what you are referring to as "not likely the issue"? Fuel line ID?
Would be interested to hear your analysis of the issues.
Thanks
 

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Only thinking about your observation that it is functioning differently when the van is cold versus warm. Made me wonder which sensor was in use. I know ours was set to the default (not the Easy Start Pro unit) and it made it act strange - including an "over heat" thing at one point.
My understanding is the only way the ECU decides if the heater is getting correct fuel quantity and firing properly is by the combination hi/lo sensor on the heater. If it doesn't reach a certain temp in a certain time frame it shuts down and throws a code saying it didn't complete the start cycle and why.
 

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@Airweld Sorry to hear about the troubles.
First off what is the 'landscape' of the install. How long is the run from the tank to the pump, Pump to the Heater. Is the pump oriented in an up tending direction, where is the pump, where is the heater. Was a razor knife used to cut the hard plastic fuel line or sidecutter pliers. What standpipe was used and how deep does it going into the tank. Is the fuel line firmly butted up to the input and out sides of what it is pushing fuel through. (Apologies if these were already covered in your build)

Second and generally speaking, I am confused on the fuel line descriptions .
a) Our install used the 4x1.25 for both intake and delivery side. (Heater under passenger seat)
b) There are a number of other folks in the forum that got the 4x1.25 fuel line in the espar kit from espar of Michigan and their systems are working fine
c) The description of a 4x1.25 really has got me confused "4x1.25mm fuel line (thats 4mm OD, 1.25mm wall thickness, 1.5mm ID) "
c.1) I concur that it is 4mm OD. At least that is what I measure.
c.2) However, (There is that darn however;-) Using a collection of small drill bits to test the ID, I could not get a 1.47mm bit into the tube. If I try really hard I can get 1.37mm drill bit into the fuel line. (I don't have a 1.25mm bit handy.) From where I sit that would lead me to think that the tube ID is 1.25mm +/- some tolerance. (not the 1.5mm)
c.3) This is splitting hairs, literally and figuratively and it does cater to my overthinking these things but what is the ID supposed to be on the 4x1.25. I always assumed 1.25. Anyone else take some measurements?

d) This is rhetorical but do these new observations indicate that the manufacturer has updated guidance for the 'Benzin' heaters on the ID of the fuel lines for the input and output side of the pump?

View attachment 167406
I think it's called "nominal" size. Like a 2x4 from the lumber yard. It's not literal.
4x1mm= 4mm OD, 1mm wall thickness, 2mm ID
4x1.25mm= 4mm OD, 1.25mm wall thickness, 1.5mm ID
 

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Latest update.
Finally got the 1.5mmID fuel line (from HEATSO, had to put a hold on Esparparts payment for sending wrong size. Still no response from them.). Ran it from fuel pump to heater with extreme care to butt tube to tube and clamp securely. Tried to purge air from the new line, not possible to get all the air out it seems. Tried to run heater many times with same result, codes 128, or 129, and 12a. Put a 2mm ID fuel line on input side into fuel can and so far, same result. I get no bubbles on input side of pump and yet bubbles on output side. Tomorrow I will replace heat sensor because the data sent to the ECU that determines whether to continue running comes from the heat sensor. If it is faulty, it could cause a failure to complete the start cycle. I'm suspicious even tho Mike says "they never go bad". I'm running out of options and getting very frustrated with the whole ordeal.
 

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The new pump had a larger size tube on the inlet so I thought a slightly larger fuel line would be appropriate (3mmID). So that's what I used when I put in the Espar dip tube. Seemed like a good idea at the time however Mike says it should be 2mmID. It's a BIG deal to change given the full set of skid plates but will bite the bullet if necessary. There are no, zero, none bubbles on the inlet side of the pump and a steady stream of bubbles on the outlet. The pump is obviously generating bubbles. The pump is very close to the fuel tank and it's just hard to believe that the 18" of inlet fuel line would make a difference.The pump is nowhere near exhaust or heat source. I just ran it for a couple hours and now I'll let it sit outside and see what happens in the morning when it's cold. I did replace the combo heat sensor and used a dab of thermal paste like you put on heat sinks on CPU's.
 

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I was under the impression that the 4519 pump was the newer, updated pump. Well I have the original 4552 pump that I can return to service. It's confusing. They make the 4519 pump appear to work with the B4L heater.
I wanted the pump up higher so less exposed to damage. But mine isn't near a heat source that would cause a heat bubble around the pump.
 

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We have the same pump as what @RidingRoadsAndTrails has. (Electrical connection on the Inlet side with the oval connector and not the square connector on the outlet side of the pump.) We also have the pump mounted just off the side rail where there is more potential airflow. As to the fuel line inlet diameter. When we were diagnosing a fuel delivery issues we just took a gas can and sat it next to the van and tried different hoses and hose configurations swapping the 20 to 30" of hose between the pump inlet and the gas can.
And what was the fuel line ID that was best?
 

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So in spite of the fact that both pumps have the same specs, I thought maybe there is something about the 4552 original pump that makes it better suited to a gasoline heater so I put it back in and there is no difference in function. Still generating bubbles. If you look at the parts list all 12vdc airtronic heaters use the same pump. The only thing left for me to do is change the fuel line from dip tube to pump.
 

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Was doing some electrical in the shop and pulled outside, tried the heater, ran fine. Waited a couple hours, ran again, no problem. Next morning at 21degrees it took 6 tries to get it running. Ran it later in the day, ran fine. Next morning same thing. Just doesn't want to run when cold.
I have replaced fuel pump, fuel lines, pickup tube, burner screen, combo heat sensor, and reflashed ECU. Still haven't put a 2mm ID fuel line on the input side of the pump to the pickup tube.

RidingRoads, I wish it was as simple as the pump getting too warm, but at 21degrees that is definitely not an issue.
 

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I bought the van recently and previous owner said heater has never worked right since first installed in 2018. He took it back to the installer and an Espar service center and they couldn't fix it. I relocated combustion air intake and pump also. Always throws the same codes, 128,or 129, and 12a.
 
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