Starting & idling 7.3 w/ block heater plugged in; overnight use of block heater? - Diesel Forum - TheDieselStop.com
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99 & up 7.3L Power Stroke Engine and Drivetrain Discussion of the 99 & up 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine and drivetrain in the 1999-Up Super Duty trucks and Excursions. No gas engine discussion allowed except on transmissions and drivetrain that pertain to all models. Please confine discussion of topics in this forum to those items that are specific to the 7.3L Power Stroke engine.

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Old 12-15-2010, 04:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
Foy
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Starting & idling 7.3 w/ block heater plugged in; overnight use of block heater?

Gents,
I decided to switch to the T6 Rotella 5W-40 synthetic at least for the upcoming out and back from North Carolina to Utah, where our host's home sits at 7,800' with no heated garage space big enough for my truck. This will require her to overnight outside where it can and does get down to 5 above to 15 degrees below zero (F) regularly in January. I don't expect I'll have plug-in capability at cheap chain motels on the way out and back, either, further encouraging the switch to the 5W-40.

The situation in Utah being the case, my dumb question of the week comes in 3 forms:

1) Is there any harm in leaving the block heater plugged in after I start the truck in the morning, in order to accelerate the warm-up? I am envisioning a good 10-15 minute idle on particularly cold mornings as I clear snow and load gear for the day's skiing.

2) Is there anything wrong with leaving the block heater plugged in from, say, 4pm until 8am the next day--essentially plugging it in upon return from the ski mountain and leaving it plugged in until time to go the next morning? At various times I've read here the 1,000 watt heater uses around a buck a day of electricity at average utility rates, and I think my host will be OK with that, so the question is really about the engine's tolerance of that heater running as much as 16 hours at a time. I would envision simply leaving it plugged in at all times when it's parked at his house.

3) I've got a couple of 64 oz jugs of gray Power Service to keep anti-gelling treatment in each batch of fuel I purchase. Should this protect me from jelling down to, say, 15 deg below zero (F). Should I bump the amount I add to the fuel upwards from the recommended amount when it's due to be well below zero?

Thanks, as always, for any thoughts or suggestions.

Foy
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Old 12-15-2010, 05:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
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1. You will see no advantage leaving it plugged in after starting. Even idling it will warm up farther than the block heater will. Just unplug it.

2. Many have their plugin set on a timer as it only takes about 3 hours to reach maximum effectiveness with the block heater. Myself? I plug it in when I get home at 5:30 and unplug it when I start the truck in the morning. I've done that for the past 8 years.

3. I thought the grey bottles were more of a cleaner and the white were more of the freeze protection? I could be wrong. I don't have either in front of me so I'm afraid I'm no more help.

To aid warmup, if you have the AIC then set that at about 1200rpms and it'll warm up really well after 15min. At the least your idle should raise automatically and the EBPV should activate making the truck sound like a jet engine. This will all help it warm up quicker. But, by 10min you should have more than enough heat. Just remember to turn on the heat and defrost. I've forgotten and left them off, come out to my truck running for 10min and it's still just as cold inside. Oops.
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Old 12-15-2010, 05:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I plug mine in overnight as well. No biggie. I would recommend doing a checkup on the glowplug system and batteries before leaving. Those in themselves will allow startups while no plugs are available.
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Old 12-16-2010, 07:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm pretty sure you'll need the white bottles, unless it says On the bottles u have that it has the anti-gel in it. If it doesn't say anti-gel on the bottle then its no good. If it does say anti-gel, then look on the back of the bottle and it will tell you how low of a temp it protects the fuel from gelling.

I run the white bottle and it protects down to -36F. Hope this helps
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Old 12-16-2010, 07:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Like the others have said, you can pick up a timer and set it to come on 3 hours or so before you need it.

Leaving it plugged in during a 15 minute warm up MIGHT get you an extra 1 deg warmer. The heater is too small to make a difference in 15 minutes so don't bother.

You need the white bottle for anti-gel, and at those temps should also carry around a red bottle in case of emergency.
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Old 12-17-2010, 12:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Most of your name brand fuel stations should be selling winterized diesel, so you shouldn't have to worry about jelling issues, especially with that length of drive. You will have put enough winterized diesel in it. Expect your mileage to go down with that blended diesel though.

Still a good idea to put in some addative in the system though. Never hurts, if you feel warm and fuzzy about it it will let you sleep better at night.

Being from the warm winter state of North Dakota, my truck has been parked outside in -20 degree weather daily. I am lucky I can still plug it in during the day at work, but even then it idles pretty rough until she warms up. My insulated garage will blow up unprotected pop cans (in a turned off fridge). Plug her in and it will help with the warm up. The biggest failure I see up here, is the frozen batteries, that plug in, in the front of your engine heats the block (oil) not the battery. Heat may be a big downfall for batteries, but a weak battery in the cold will leave you "cold" quick. Make sure them batteries are good on age.

Tinman hit it, check the glowplugs and the batteries! And that big hissing noise you will hear until it heats up is normal. Unless you mod'ed it out.

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Old 12-17-2010, 02:51 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foy View Post
1) Is there any harm in leaving the block heater plugged in after I start the truck in the morning, in order to accelerate the warm-up? I am envisioning a good 10-15 minute idle on particularly cold mornings as I clear snow and load gear for the day's skiing.
No, it won't do any harm to leave the block heater plugged in with the engine idling. But like the other guys said, it really doesn't contribute much to warm up. If you're using a remote starter, there's no need to run out and unplug the truck before you finish your coffee.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Foy View Post
2) Is there anything wrong with leaving the block heater plugged in from, say, 4pm until 8am the next day--essentially plugging it in upon return from the ski mountain and leaving it plugged in until time to go the next morning?
Again, there's nothing wrong with it, it just burns up more electrons (& cents).
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Old 12-17-2010, 09:09 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I used to leave my truck plugged in overnight all the time with no issues.

Even with the 5w40 your truck will still not start the best once it gets below 15 degrees. So bring along a 100' extension cord.

Batteries start to loose their peak after 2 years, regardless of what kind they are. If yours are 5 years old I would replace them just to make sure you don't get stuck. It's only $160.

You need the white bottle. Personally I prefer Howes additives.


Have fun skiing and wheeling in the snow.
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Old 12-17-2010, 11:11 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Is there anything wrong with leaving the block heater plugged in from, say, 4pm until 8am the next day--essentially plugging it in upon return from the ski mountain and leaving it plugged in until time to go the next morning? At various times I've read here the 1,000 watt heater uses around a buck a day of electricity at average utility rates, and I think my host will be OK with that, so the question is really about the engine's tolerance of that heater running as much as 16 hours at a time. I would envision simply leaving it plugged in at all times when it's parked at his house.
Foy
The only recommendation that I would make about plugging it in some where would be to use a heavy enough extension cord.....Say like a 12 gauge..
Lighter weight cords seem to heat up pretty much, and I'd be afraid of a fire or something, I don't know....
It just seems, it must draw a lot of amps for those cords to get that hot....

Just a thought
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Old 12-18-2010, 07:19 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Many thanks

Gents,
I sure appreciate all of your input. The old girl will turn 200,000 miles on this trip and she still sports all OEM engine and drivetrain pieces and parts (well, I installed Warn premium hubs 2 years ago, and a leveling kit 1 year ago--but the Binder powerplant is bone stock.

My batteries are 16 months old and the cables and connections are corrosion-free and in great shape.

I picked up a new GPR from NAPA yesterday and will install today.

I have the "recall" CPS in operation and a new one from NAPA in the toolbox.

The EBPV and fast idle function are normal and operative.

I have 100' of 12 gauge extension cord.

Air filter is freshly cleaned (despite the many criticisms of K&N, mine works great and Blackstone tells me my filtration is excellent--I seat the filter with a bead of white lithium grease following each cleaning).

New fuel filter goes in today.

New serpentine belt goes in tomorrow.

Coolant is fresh and SCA additive level is good.

The Power Service gray jugs at my local Wal-Mart are clearly marked "fuel gelling preventative" while the white jugs do not include such a label. Perhaps I should get another anti-gel additive just for the tank or two of fuel I'll burn while at that elevation and its cold temps. CORRECTION: I've got the white Power Service and it's marked "anti-gelling".

I'm feeling pretty good about the prep. Thanks again for the many ideas and tips.

Foy
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Last edited by Foy; 12-18-2010 at 01:42 PM. Reason: Corrected the Power Service anti-gel jug color
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