Using a heater in your van can be a great way to stay warm during colder months or in cooler climates, but it’s important to use it properly to avoid any issues or costly repairs. In this post, we’ll discuss some tips on how to use a heater in a van properly and how to maintain it, specifically focusing on diesel/gasoline heaters.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when using a diesel/gasoline heater in a van is the need for adjustment at high altitudes above 5000 feet. Due to the lower amount of oxygen at higher altitudes, carbon soot can build up inside the burn chamber, preventing the heater from starting and potentially requiring a costly tear down and repair. To avoid this, the heater must be adjusted for high altitude usage by a Webasto dealer at an altitude above 5000 feet. Once the adjustment has been made, the heater can be used at lower elevations with only a slight decrease in heat output.

If your heater does not start and is blowing smoke, it may have been over fueled. One possible solution is to remove the fuel line from the heater and try to run it multiple times to burn off the excess fuel and carbon from the burn chamber. Reconnect the fuel line and run the heater on high until the smoke clears up.

Running the heater on the low setting for an extended period of time can also contribute to soot buildup. To prevent this, it’s recommended to run the heater on the highest setting for 30 minutes every other month to clean it out. If the heater has been running on low for a while, it’s also recommended to run it on high for 15 minutes before turning it off.

It’s important to avoid running the heater on the low setting even with high altitude adjustment, as this can still contribute to soot buildup. Additionally, it’s recommended to use the heater for at least 15-20 minutes to prevent any issues from arising.

Your heater will remind you each month to turn it on for 20 minutes for a preventative maintenance run. When you see this notification, just click the on button, and the heater will take care of the maintenance for you.

Other recommendations for periodic maintenance:

  • Remove the glow pin and inspect for carbon build up. Clean or replace.
  • Remove the glow pin screen and inspect for carbon build up. Replace.
  • Make sure the vent hole is not clogged.
  • Inspect the ducting, the air intake screen and air outlet for restriction or blockage.
  • Inspect combustion air intake and exhaust for blockage.
  • Operate your heater for a minimum of 20 minutes each month.
  • Maintain your batteries and all electrical connections in good condition. With insufficient power the heater will not start. Low and high voltage cutouts will shut the heater down automatically.
  • Use fuel suitable for the climate (see fuel supplier recommendations). Blending used engine oil with diesel fuel is not permitted.