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There Is Always Something Part Three

Hot water. Every time I use the hot water in our coach I wonder, will we have hot water today? For the past couple of years the problem with our hot water system was a substandard pump mechanism put out by ITR.

I don’t blame ITR for using cheap pumps. Sometimes a manufacturer produces a product at a lower cost and promises better quality. Or sometimes it is just not clear that the pump is a defective product and should be recalled until it gets out in the field in large numbers. Recalls then become very expensive.

Maybe as a company, you just wait for the pumps to fail. Perhaps under warranty. Perhaps not. And maybe not every pump fails. At least not right away.

Oh. And you can charge a lot for a replacement pump. A bit like a software subscription model. Incremental revenue after the initial sale. And, it makes the customer appreciate a quality replacement product for their coach.

Enough venting about defective hot water pumps. We have new ones in the system now and I expect that the mean time between failure (MTBF) will be better than the old design. The MTBF of the old design could be measured in days. Hopefully the MTBF of the new design is measured in years.

I digress.

Sorry about that.

What was I talking about? Oh yes. There is always something. On our trip from Florida to California we had a few, mostly minor, issues. The first was with our leveling system. It took multiple attempts to convince the system that all the jacks were retracted. Still unresolved. The second was with a plugged roof drain. Easily resolved. Messy, though. And I got wet.

And now, part three. A red light. I hate red lights. This red light has happened twice since we arrived to California, a heater module fault.

How did I know to check if we had a heater module fault?

No hot water.

So many times we have encountered no hot water in our coach.

What to do.

I went out to the bay that houses the main burner. This is our Oasis system that provides heat for our coach. Sometimes.

I did not really notice anything unusual here. No red lights on the front panel.

With my incredible knowledge of all things related to computing, it only took a moment to resolve this issue.

I deployed the BRS protocol.

This is a deeply held secret guarded by the few elite technology gurus in this world of which I am one. I learned about the BRS protocol many, many years ago.

Because I am now retired and no longer need to demonstrate my mastery of technology to any and all, I can provide you with this secret knowledge that has served me so well when facing mysterious technical issues:

The Big Red Switch (BRS) is a physical or metaphorical switch or button for which activation has ominous implications. A Big Red Switch is always very visible, and may stand as a warning itself as it is often designed to only be used in extreme situations. As such, the term has become a metaphor for extreme situations such that when an emgerency arises, someone might say “pull the Big Red Switch.”

Most often the Big Red Switch is a last resort in computer security, most specifically in mainframes or servers that have come under an attack that cannot be stopped and thus must be shut down. The term may also refer to major system resets.

The Big Red Switch may also be called the Big Red Button (BRB).

There wasn’t a BRS, or, for that matter, not even a BRB visible on the Oasis unit. There was, however, a RESET button.

I pressed it.

The coach promptly exploded.

But at least we had hot water for a few moments during the subsequent fire.

No, no, no.

The coach did not explode.

The Oasis system reset itself. The red light on the Oasis panel went dark and we had hot water again.

For about a week.

Then, another red light.

Then, another BRS protocol.

Then, hot water resumed.

I am thinking that I need to give ITR a call. I hate giving them a call because it costs me money. Usually several hundred dollars.

Given that we have been in the coach full-time for the past six months, it is probably time for the five-year service.

That is my guess although I thought we had a few more years to go before the five-year service.

In the meantime, if that red light comes on again, I will continue to invoke the BRS protocol.

Until the BRS protocol no longer works.

Bad Pump, Bad Service

Two bad pumps? Or only one?

If you run an Oasis hot water system on a recent Newmar coach, you have probably run into a bad pump issue. Usually it involves losing your domestic hot water. A workaround is to engage the summer bypass loop, a hidden switch located on top of a panel near the Oasis burner. The downside when using the summer bypass loop is that the zone pumps run continuously which causes heat buildup in the coach and it could lead to additional pump failures. Assuming, of course, that your unit uses the old style pumps. ITR changed pump suppliers sometime over the past 18 months or so.

When our pump failed the first time, ITR was very helpful in trying to help us resolve the issue. Ultimately they sent us a new design pump to replace the faulty domestic hot water pump under warranty.

We asked our dealer to install the new pump. This was during our 6-week adventure of the punctured oil pan of our toad and the random deployment and destruction of our front awning.

Owning a coach can be such fun.

Since we were stranded for so long at the dealership, we naturally tried our hot water after the dealer had replaced the faulty pump.

No hot water.

I informed the service manager and he told me that they must have replaced the wrong pump. No worries though. They will replace it with the right one.

And they did. And we had hot water. And it was good.

Until the pump failed again last week.

I called ITR. I was not a particularly happy camper. What is the mean time between failure on your new pump design? Why am I needing to change out a pump after only a couple of months of use?

Reluctantly, I paid $300 USD for another new pump and $100 USD to overnight ship it to our location.

But something was nagging at me about this particular issue. I told Lorraine that I thought the dealer did not replace the pump that provides the hot water with the new design pump. I told Lorraine that I thought the dealer took the old design pump from the other loop and put it into the domestic hot water supply line.

That is exactly what they did.

This is a picture of the panel that holds the three pumps before we changed out the faulty pump that supplies domestic hot water.

You can see the faulty pump circled in red. That is the pump that was no longer providing domestic hot water. That pump design is known to be faulty. You can see the difference in design by the ribs in the centre of the old pump. The pump circled in blue is the new design. Visually, it is quite different from the old design pumps. That pump provides heat to zone 1 in our coach. The other pump, hidden by my hand, provides heat to zone 2 in our coach. We rarely use the zone 1 and zone 2 pumps as we have roof mounted heat pumps and in-floor radiant heat.

Our dealer had replaced the wrong pump. They put the new design pump on zone 1 (blue circle). When we told them that we still did not have hot water, they took the old design pump that they had removed from zone 1 and they put that pump on the domestic hot water loop (red circle). As the old design was faulty, it was simply a question of time before that old design pump would fail.

It failed.

We left the blue circle pump with the new design as is. We installed the new design pump that ITR had just shipped to us in the red circle.

We now have two new design pumps in that panel.

Annoyed that our dealer did not replace the correct pump. Annoyed that our dealer put an old pump into the domestic hot water loop, a pump that we use daily. Annoyed that it failed.

But very, very happy to have hot showers again.