KIB monitor lit but no levels working

I just purchased a used 2018 Heartland Pioneer RK280. As is from ************. None of the levels seem to work on the KIB monitor. I don't find a part number on the monitor, so here's a photo:
KIB Monitor (small image).JPG
As I press each of the 5 level selection buttons, the following happens REGARDLESS of conditions tested so far:
BATT = Always 4 LEDs
FRESH, BLACK, GREY 1, GREY 2 = Always 1 LED (Empty)

So it seems to report full battery (*) and all tanks empty. So far, with reasonable certainty, I filled the fresh water tank, and it still reads empty. I have not yet tried filling the other tanks or intentionally discharging the battery. All three switches light up, the water pump sputters, and the dealer had the (electric?) water heater running earlier.

(*) webpage https://www.forestriverforums.com/forums/f218/new-to-forum-battery-charge-level-indicator-62342.html defines:
L - Low
F - Fair
G - Good
C - Charging
So it seems like L-F-G in order correspond to a growing level. C should mean incoming charge. So the lights suggested charging and Good, but
it was definitely NOT connected to shore power, and was NOT charging.

I suspect NONE of the display is working correctly and I doubt that ALL the level sensors would be failing from individual wiring or gunk. I suspect some single centralized problem.

While I'm high educated in electrical with very good knowledge in plumbing, I'm new to RVs. Please help me with the questions below, as well as any other suggestions:

1) Any suggestion of the KIB part number?

2) Any suggestion on how to get a manual or wiring diagram for this specific model?

3) Some switch lights and LEDs seem to come on, and the wiring behind seems to have all the power wires red and those all joined together. I didn't even waste time measuring -- I know they'll read battery voltage, about 12V. Therefore, what might be a common failure point such that power is arriving for LEDs to illuminate, but no sensors are working. My first guess is intact ground for the monitor, but broken ground for all else. This might cause both the full power and empty tank readings. (I have experience designing data acquisition systems for race cars, and I've had cases where missing ground causes my battery reading to be full.)

4) Did I really fill the fresh water tank earlier today?
4.1) I hooked up the "city water" to my house, and confirmed good flow on sinks. After closing the low-point drain valves and closing both kitchen and bathroom sink faucets, I didn't notice a lot of flow. This model *should* have a 41gal fresh water tank. I would have thought I'd feel more flow in the garden hose (haven't yet sanitized the RV anyway). How long should it take to fill the fresh water tank? Do I need to do anything additional on different in order to fill the water tank and hope full a full reading on the monitor?
4.2) Note I have two blue pex and one red pex low-point drains. I had drained all three while messing around at the CAT scale. This time, one blue started flowing immediately. I assume cold pressurized city water. I shut that one. Somewhat later, the single red started flowing. So I figure it took a while to fill up the cold water system and then push through to the hot water system. So I then closed that red valve. The third valve, also blue, is cut shorter and looks different from the first blue and the single red. I didn't wait long enough for water to come out of it. I just closed it when I closed the red. Can someone possibly confirm and clarify these low point drains, especially that third pipe, the other blue one?
4.3) I disconnected the "city water", assuming the fresh water tank might be full now. I opened the Kitchen faucet and confirm quick reduction and stop of water flow, as residual pressure was exhausted. Then I turned on the pump. I could hear the pump. Water sputtered out of the faucet. It seemed like the pump wasn't primed. I never got a continuous flow. I would expect a continuous flow, perhaps lower than city water, and perhaps pulsating. But I only got sputter. How long should I have to wait for this, assuming a totally dry system beforehand? Do I need to do anything additional on different in order to test the water pump?
4.4) I was going to use the water pump to "transfer" the up-to-41gal fresh water over to the Kitchen gray water tank, in order to hope to see a non-empty Grey 1 or Grey 2 indicator. But I couldn't get the pump to pump. Do I need to do anything additional on different? I could carry 5-gal buckets up to the sink, but I'll do that labor later if I must, but it would be easier and appropriate to get the water pump working first.

5) How much of a pain is it to totally remove that belly panel? I figure I could see all the tanks and do more diagnosis. I know a reasonable amount of the plumbing is hidden in the cabinets, but there ought to be another reasonable amount in the "crawl space", LOL.

6) I can't reach the fuse box right now because I'm not level [yet] in my driveway and the slide is blocking the panel under the fridge in this RK280. Is it possible that there's one good fuse powering the monitor panel and thus the LEDs, but another fuse that's blown and not feeding the sensors? However, it seemed that all the red wires were tied together in back...

Thanks very much!
 

Dahillbilly

Well-known member
if plugged in to shore power & the inverter is working the battery will show a full charge. Disconnect shore power see what it shows then; run some 12vdc items ex:lights, furnace, pump & see if battery level drops.
 

david-steph2018

Well-known member
You may not had filled the freshwater tank if you did not move a handle to "fresh" or have a gravity fill port. Please add a photo of the wet bay area, where you hook up the water hose.

For the wiring call Heartland with the last 6 numbers of your VIN. You may get one, by generally they do not show wire runs if that is what you are looking for. Manuals came on a flash drive, only paper manuals were for individual appliances in our rig.
 
Thanks, @Dahillbilly and @david-steph2018. After midnight, I realized the error of my ways and subsequently found your consistent response, @david-steph2018. I further found this Water Systems Guide. Indeed, the Gravity Fill is on the opposite side from the City Water and not on a common panel as shown in photographs I had found to date. After roughly 5 minutes of filling, gurgling sounds began and I stopped. Next, the Fresh Water Tank Level showed Full. Yay! Next, the pump actually pumped out the Kitchen sink. Yay! While pumping, the Battery Level indicated Low. Sorta Yay.

Of course, it won't be that easy. ...way too soon the Fresh Water Tank Level showed empty. The Battery Level went to Low as soon as I turned the pump on, then went back up to Good (not Charge) when I turned the pump off. Yay! Two minutes of pumping through the sink into a gray tank, and the pump-off Battery Level went to Low. Not yay. So it seems like (1) the battery level monitoring is so inaccurate that it thinks a merely full battery is charging, and (2) I might have a worn out battery that can't hold a charge through two minutes of pumping in the dark.

Anyway, I'll level the trailer tomorrow if I can make the time. The out-of-level is perhaps 2" or 3" height when considered side to side and similar slope front-to-back. That may clean up the Fresh Water Tank Level. I'll put a voltmeter on the actual battery. l don't have an adapter for home shore power. I guess I do have an automotive battery charger, which I would hope is safe to connect directly to the battery.
 
Last edited:

Hollandt

Active Member
Thanks, #Dahillbilly and #david-steph2018. After midnight, I realized the error of my ways and subsequently found your consistent response, #david-steph2018. I further found this Water Systems Guide. Indeed, the Gravity Fill is on the opposite side from the City Water and not on a common panel as shown in photographs I had found to date. After roughly 5 minutes of filling, gurgling sounds began and I stopped. Next, the Fresh Water Tank Level showed Full. Yay! Next, the pump actually pumped out the Kitchen sink. Yay! While pumping, the Battery Level indicated Low. Sorta Yay.

Of course, it won't be that easy. ...way too soon the Fresh Water Tank Level showed empty. The Battery Level went to Low as soon as I turned the pump on, then went back up to Good (not Charge) when I turned the pump off. Yay! Two minutes of pumping through the sink into a gray tank, and the pump-off Battery Level went to Low. Not yay. So it seems like (1) the battery level monitoring is so inaccurate that it thinks a merely full battery is charging, and (2) I might have a worn out battery that can't hold a charge through two minutes of pumping in the dark.

Anyway, I'll level the trailer tomorrow if I can make the time. The out-of-level is perhaps 2" or 3" height when considered side to side and similar slope front-to-back. That may clean up the Fresh Water Tank Level. I'll put a voltmeter on the actual battery. l don't have an adapter for home shore power. I guess I do have an automotive battery charger, which I would hope is safe to connect directly to the battery.
Being you are new to RV. You mentioned you were out of level. If you have a fridge with a gas option be sure you are close to level before operating on gas or electric. Gas fridges use the absorption process to work and can be damaged if operated out of level. As for the level indicators, they are terribly inaccurate and a constant headache. The fresh water indicators usually work Ok but the gray and black water indicators have to be constantly cleaned to work correctly. I have had success with a product called Commando for the black tank. Using Dawn dish detergent in the gray tanks helps. https://www.amazon.com/Walex-CMDOBG...d=1646143457&sprefix=comando+rv,aps,95&sr=8-5
 

david-steph2018

Well-known member
Thanks, #Dahillbilly and #david-steph2018. After midnight, I realized the error of my ways and subsequently found your consistent response, #david-steph2018. I further found this Water Systems Guide. Indeed, the Gravity Fill is on the opposite side from the City Water and not on a common panel as shown in photographs I had found to date. After roughly 5 minutes of filling, gurgling sounds began and I stopped. Next, the Fresh Water Tank Level showed Full. Yay! Next, the pump actually pumped out the Kitchen sink. Yay! While pumping, the Battery Level indicated Low. Sorta Yay.

Of course, it won't be that easy. ...way too soon the Fresh Water Tank Level showed empty. The Battery Level went to Low as soon as I turned the pump on, then went back up to Good (not Charge) when I turned the pump off. Yay! Two minutes of pumping through the sink into a gray tank, and the pump-off Battery Level went to Low. Not yay. So it seems like (1) the battery level monitoring is so inaccurate that it thinks a merely full battery is charging, and (2) I might have a worn out battery that can't hold a charge through two minutes of pumping in the dark.

Anyway, I'll level the trailer tomorrow if I can make the time. The out-of-level is perhaps 2" or 3" height when considered side to side and similar slope front-to-back. That may clean up the Fresh Water Tank Level. I'll put a voltmeter on the actual battery. l don't have an adapter for home shore power. I guess I do have an automotive battery charger, which I would hope is safe to connect directly to the battery.
Gurgling sounds was the air escaping, so if you stopped as it begins, maybe continue until it comes out of the gravity fill port. So, it sounds like the battery either needs to be charged or replaced. Depending on age and its ability to hold a charge, replace. Check and see which Group the battery is under, 27, 29, or 31.
One method I use to check a battery is to remove the covering for filling the cells, take my multimeter and place one lead on a post, the other lead in a cell. If the meter reads negative, reverse the lead, write down the number then to the same for all the cells. If one cell is reading lower than the other cells, it may indicate a cell going bad. Then do it after you charge the battery and compared the numbers. But if a cell is reading low, say around 1.8 give or take, I would think that cell is going bad.

Take a gallon jug and fill it with the water hose while timing it. Then stick the hose in the gravity port and you can estimate how long it will take to fill the water tank. If it takes 20 seconds to fill the jug, 3 gals. a minute, so it would be around 13-14 minutes to fill your tank.

Oh yes, when filling the gravity fill, do NOT stand in front of it when it starts coming out.
 
@Hollandt, thanks sincerely for the unsolicited advice. I did already know those particular things, but had I not known I would have appreciated learning from you. Please keep it coming.

@david-steph2018 et al., I made much better progress after actually filling the darned fresh water tank, LOL. I've confirmed the fresh tank level indicator works at all levels. Then I used the pump to transfer that into both gray tanks, and both of those indicators work at all levels. The gray tanks have each been sitting there since this morning with 20 oz of Dawn Ultra soaking in them. Seeing your response, I ordered some Commando today, @Hollandt, and will soak the black tank tomorrow (after I receive an already ordered same-OEM replacement back flow preventer / air vent, so I'll use the purge to transfer water from home to black tank).

At this point, 3 tank level sensors are all working. The 4th, the blank tank, will hopefully work tomorrow. I understand the dirty difficulties and likelihoods of that.

Meanwhile, the battery level indicator reliably reads G or C when the pump is off, but L when the pump is on, while no shore power. As I mentioned, when I had the monitor pulled off the wall, all the red wires join together. I know the pump is causing a voltage drop on the supply wire and that's the likely reason for the low reading while pumping. I've seen KIB wiring diagrams with TWO separate red wires, one for the monitor and one for pump current. I need to go back behind the monitor again and check. Perhaps there are two wires coming in, but the [not] expert original assembler joined them together. LOL, that won't help, joining a thinner monitor power wire to the thicker pump power wire that already is going to drop too much voltage for battery monitoring purposes. So if I find the wires I'm seeking, I may bifurcate them appropriately. (Therefore, I think the battery is actually good. In fact, it looks new, but date/month not punched out. I do understand your battery internal probe method, @david-steph2018.)

Finally, there were indeed flickering readings at first on the fresh tank level. The monitor was hanging from the wires. Hey, I've been a professional electrical and electronics engineer for decadessss ["was" ???!!!]. That darned monitor is connected with insulation displacement connectors. My professional experience has taught me to never use IDC connectors. They're unreliable at best, especially in a high vibration environment. So as I've done in the past, I used my jeweler's flat blade screwdriver and pressed the conductors further down in-between the insulation displacement teeth. (I couldn't find my old IDC tool. Of course, it never seated this that great in the first place, and thus my prior experience with hand pressing the wires further down than the tool would do.) Now the fresh level display is consistent on every test. If it fails again, I'll order a non-IDC connector from Digikey that will fit the same 0.1" header.

So that's all I need to do: test/clean the black tank, maybe possibly perhaps rewire the pump power (or else just be aware to turn the pump off, or wait for when it's pressured up and off, in order to judge battery level -- easy enough), and wait for a failure to urge me to replace the header connector (shame on KIB or Heartland, whomever chose to use it).

Oh, also, @david-steph2018 , It takes about 5 minutes to fill the fresh tank. I also thought about your measuring/timing method. I need to figure out exactly how big all my other tanks are. Specs don't seem to match my trailer. I think maybe specs aren't a "thing" in the RV manufacturing world. For example, there's not a spec that says to pick up your d*mn hole saw drops, apparently. Every sealed access panel that I go into has 6-year-old drops and manufacturing junk in it! My wife said, "we don't need to tow that weight!" (She knows it only adds up to a dozen or two ounces.)
 
I was finally able to get everything done. So, at this point, ALL of the sensors on my KIB monitor are able to read at all levels. There are only two shortcomings:

1) It appears that the installer (Heartland factory) wired all power on a single wire, such that while the water pump is running, the battery level indicator always reads low. Turn the pump off, and the reading returns to G or C. (Note C better means "[Fully] Charged" rather than "Charging".) I have not had the opportunity or desire to remove the monitor from the wall again in order to double check the correctness of my statement, or to re-wire it if I discover two separate incoming red power wires, which would be a thinner gauge for the monitor and a thicker gauge for the water pump.

2) My readings are now reliable, but one of the achilles heels on this monitor design is the use of an insulation displacement connector (IDC) for all the incoming sensor wires. For now, I've restored reliability by manually pressing the wires further down into the IDC gaps/teeth. As I mentioned before, if unreliability returns, I'll just order a different style header connector from Digikey.

BTW, I was indeed only slightly off level, was level until my recent trip to the scales, and the slide worked fine while level (it also having been tested before purchase).
 

david-steph2018

Well-known member
Did you ever check the batteries to see if they are good? It should not change the battery level indicator when just turning on the pump. Could be a bad battery or a loose connection,, maybe a ground, somewhere.
 
I didn't check the individual battery cells. However, the battery level indicator, with pump off, has remained at "G" for a while. I've used the tongue jack motor a few times while playing with a beam scale. I ran the slide out and in. I've run over 100 gallons through the pump while sanitizing. So I suspect the battery is just fine.

Now, to address your question about the pump. If you look at the KIB schematic... (below are links to three different schematics):


All of them show SEPARATE "filtered" power on a red wire, most often 22 AWG, plus "pump" power on a red wire at 14 AWG. I've been to this rodeo before with electronics I've designed. The pump current will drop a fairly large voltage across the wiring, making and power level measurement inaccurate. That MUST be why all these have separate power wires for pump and electronics. The 14 AWG wire is good for supplying the pump. The other 22 AWG wire is for the sensors and monitor. Now, I don't know exactly what the sensing/ledDisplay electronics looks like, but I can imagine. Imagine the pump causes a 4V drop on the power wire. So with a good charged battery at 13.5V, the pump power only has 9.5V on it. If the two wires are joined at the monitor, then the monitor thinks the battery is only 9.5V. That's definitely a low battery. But if the two wires are left separate as they are supposed to be, then the electronics gets 13.5V and recognizes that the battery is fully charged, even though the pump is only getting 9.5V.

LOL, @david-steph2018 , if you keep pressing on this issue, you're going to force me to go out, pull the monitor off the wall, in order to prove it to myself, as well as to you. I'm joking now. I really am busy and don't want to spend this time, or risk loosening the wires (IDC) because I must pull the harness up and out a small hole to see all the connections! But if you press the technical issue too much, the obsessive-compulsive disorder in me will make me waste that time in order to prove it... For now, I'll stick with my recollection when I first looked, that ALL the red wires were joined together. That recollection is also consistent with the led behavior. And, hey, that makes for a nice pump-is-on indicator. That is, if the battery reading is good but then falls to low when I flip the pump switch, then it confirms that power really is going to the switch. (Oh, darn, that really is a useless indicator, since I can HEAR the pump, LOL, and I hear it running rather than making that jammed noise that many of us have heard during our lifetimes. And I see water if I open the faucet. Oh, heck, I don't really need that indicator, but Heartland was nice enough to build one in for me.)
 
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