Tuesday, February 23, 2016

You can always tell when a cruise boat is in town - the guide trains are full
Well, even in paradise you have to pay attention to the boat, after all it's your home, not a vacation rental. As such I have to fix the lack of heat output when switching to heat mode. It cools like a champ but will not heat on cold mornings. Of course that's of no concern down here now but on the way back north there will be cool days and we need the heat.

I really didn't want to learn about air conditioning on a boat but necessity demands it unless you like supporting the local repairmen all the time. The heat mode is actually just reverse A/C. There's a coil that's activated in heat mode that pulls a valve over in the A/C to direct the refrigerant from the cooling side to the heating side of the heat exchanger. The valve is controlled magnetically when the coil is energized. So the first step was to see if the solenoid was stuck in the cooling position. I bought a powerful magnetic and found that I was able to pull the solenoid to the heating position - so the mechanics were fine, a big relief. It turned out that the coil was not being energized, no voltage was reaching it.

The boat across from us on the same dock is always lit up at night
So it looks like I have a bad board, an expensive item. However, I found that I could manually energize the coil by just connecting it to 120v AC which is all the board does when heat is demanded. With that I ordered a switch and intend on connecting it between the coil and a source of 120v. If I turn it on, then the A/C will heat, if I turn if off I will get cooling, all for a cost of about $7 for the switch. The A/C is at least 10 years old so eventually something else will fail and I'll replace the entire unit but in the meantime, this will work fine. I checked with technical support for the A/C unit to be sure that the coil works with 120v with no limit on the amps other than the coil's internal resistance.

I included the above detail because it's typical of the types of maintenance you have to do on a boat if you're on it many months at a time. Apart from the cost of a serviceman, they are often not available at a moment's notice and you could spend more time paying dockage fees than the cost of the repair if you wait for them until they are free. Of course there are some repairs you cannot do but you surely need to tackle the ones you can.