C&D Associates Inc. heaters (FAA/PMA direct replacements for Janitrol and South Wind) call for overhaul at 2,000 hours with no ADs, but there is a recommended pressure decay test each 250 hours after reaching 2,000 hours.
Does an AD Affect My Heater?
All aircraft with a Janitrol heater of the "B" series (1 1/2-inch exhaust) have airworthiness directives. There are no ADs at this time on the "S" series heaters installed in the Baron manufactured prior to 1973 or the Travel Air. It would be prudent, however, for the owners of these airplanes to periodically perform a pressure decay test to check for leakage.
What ADs Affect My Aircraft?
AD 2004-21-05 affects heaters identified as Janitrol or Jan-Aero Devices of the "B" series design, installed in most Pipers except early models of Twin Comanche and early Aztec. This AD requires mandatory inspection and a pressure decay test for leakage every 100-hour inspection or two years. The purpose of the pressure decay test is to test for cracks or leaks in the combustion liner. Overhaul even with a new ceramic style combustion tube cannot eliminate the AD from a Janitrol heater.
AD 81-09-09 affects most South Wind heaters and mandates 250-hour inspections and overhaul with a pressure decay test at each 1,000 hours.
What Inspections Can I Do?
Pilots and owners operating under FAR 91 can perform checks needed to assure proper operation of the heater prior to flight. Ensure that the combustion and ventilating air inlets, fuel drain line, and exhaust outlet, are not damaged and free from obstructions.
Adjust the temperature control for a low setting and perform an operational check. (Use a thermometer [0 to 300 F] in the defrost outlet to determine the temperature range from low to high.) After the heater has begun to burn in low, allow it to run a minimum of two minutes to ensure proper operation.
Move the heater control to mid-range and verify that the heater produces medium heat. Once mid-range has been verified, move the heat control to high. A high temperature of 200 F in the defrost outlet is reasonable. Set the thermostat to low, allowing the heater to run in this setting for two minutes to purge the combustion chamber prior to shutdown.
If the heater does not work when the system is turned on, there is a simple preliminary check. Verify the heater circuit breaker is set or is not activated. With the heater switch on, confirm there is airflow coming from the exhaust of the heater, and at the same time smell the exhaust for a fuel smell.
No airflow from the exhaust pipe may result from a bad blower or no power to the heater control switch, which may be caused by an activated circuit breaker.
If there is airflow from the exhaust accompanied by a fuel smell but no burn, the spark plug, glow plug, or ignition may have failed. With airflow from the exhaust but no fuel smell, it is possible that failure of the thermostat, fuel pump, or fuel solenoid valve could be suspected.
Knowing these indications reduces troubleshooting time required to have the system back up and running. (A more complete troubleshooting guide can be found at www.aircraftheater.com.)
What Is the Most Common Cause of Heater Failure?
In Janitrol product line, the most common cause of a heater failing to produce heat is the spark plug. When a heater burns fuel, it leaves a coating on the plug. This coating creates a corrosive effect through the summer months when the heater is not used, etching the ceramic insulator of the spark plug. The next season, the spark will follow the path of least resistance down the etched ceramic, which will cause the plug to misfire. Fuel burn will be incomplete, causing low or no heat. Because of the shiny protective coating on the ceramic, they can only be cleaned by wiping with a nonabrasive cloth. Never sand or bead blast, as it will remove this protective coating. It is recommended that the spark plug be replaced each heating season and the gap be checked.
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Hartzell's new I-Series heaters directly replace Hartzell and Janitrol branded B-Series heaters and are exempt from the requirements of Airworthiness Directive 2004-21-05 applicable to the B-Series.