Hot Water Heater

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Hot Water Heater

Post  chuck on Mon Jul 19, 2010 7:56 am

I discussed my gas hot water heater problem with a few folks during our R-Plantation trip. After some web research.. I have a theory on what the problem might be.

Its a 6 gallon Atwood gas water heater with a pilot light.

First.. brief outline of the problem. The last few camping trips.. I would light the pilot, the heater would ignite and heat the water. But a few hours later.. I would check and the pilot would be out.. and no hot water. I would re-light.. and usually the water heater would operate properly the rest of the camping trip (2 or 3 days).

This past weekend.. I had to re-light the pilot several times each day. However.. I did have hot water. The heater seemed to work ok, initially.... igniting and heating the water. But then sometime later the pilot apparently goes out.

I am thinking.. either the pilot flame is too small and not keeping the thermocouple heated.. or the thermocouple is bad.

Any expert opinions?

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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  tenndon on Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:43 am

Chuck, it does sound like a thermo couple problem or it may be like a problem I had once. There was a mud dobber's nest in my burn tube and the water heater just would not work right. I flushed it with a water hose and had no more trouble.
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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  coolbreeze1 on Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:49 am

tenndon wrote:Chuck, it does sound like a thermo couple problem or it may be like a problem I had once. There was a mud dobber's nest in my burn tube and the water heater just would not work right. I flushed it with a water hose and had no more trouble.
I would check for the some kind of insect in your burner tube first. I that didn't work would check the thermo coupler.
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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  coolbreeze1 on Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:55 am

Here is another thought on the matter. Your regulator on your tanks maybe going bad. It is not allowing the correct pressure to the pilot light, thus the pilot goes out. If I remember, there is and old regulator that is mounted on the front of your trailer, I wonder if it went bad and the just put a new one on at the tanks?
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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  chuck on Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:16 am

Some of the posts on RV.NET said the pilot flame should engulf the thermocouple.. I don't think mine does. It appears to be a small flame.. and I don't think there is a way to adjust the pilot flame. However, since the heater, at one time.. worked fine with the small pilot.. maybe the thermocouple is just going bad.. and not sensitive enough.. I am guesing. Also some posters said if a thermocouple is going bad.. any slight disturbance (wind, etc) could cause the pilot to go out.

Its raining here now.. so I am not gonna mess with it today.

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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  chuck on Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:18 am

coolbreeze1 wrote:Here is another thought on the matter. Your regulator on your tanks maybe going bad.
Its possible.. that could account for a weak pilot flame.. but I seem to be getting ample gas to the cook stove,.. etc. Thanks for the suggestion.. its worth looking into.

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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  coolbreeze1 on Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:34 am

chuck wrote:
coolbreeze1 wrote:Here is another thought on the matter. Your regulator on your tanks maybe going bad.
Its possible.. that could account for a weak pilot flame.. but I seem to be getting ample gas to the cook stove,.. etc. Thanks for the suggestion.. its worth looking into.
I had either read about this, or heard someone talk about the regulator. From what I remember is that different gas appliances need different min. pressures to operate, so your water heater is the last appliance in gas line.
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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  coolbreeze1 on Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:48 am

Chuck, here is one way to test, if the pressure is not meeting the min requirement. Each gas appliance should have a cut off valve. Shut the valves off to all of the other appliances, only leaving the water heater on. They did this test on my 5'er to check my water heater. After completing the test they forgot to turn the gas back onto my furnace. I needed some heat, and it wouldn't light, thought I was out of gas, until I checked the lines, an say the line to the furnace was turned off.
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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  Richard on Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:10 pm

None of mine have shut offs Tim. Just the valve on the tank. I tried to convice Chuck to just take a lighter and run it up and down all the gas lines to check for a leak. I figured that would solve the problem with a bang. He didn't think that was such a good idea.
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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  coolbreeze1 on Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:36 pm

Richard wrote:None of mine have shut offs Tim. Just the valve on the tank. I tried to convice Chuck to just take a lighter and run it up and down all the gas lines to check for a leak. I figured that would solve the problem with a bang. He didn't think that was such a good idea.
Well, I'm not sure how Chuck's is set-up either. However mine has shut off valves to all of the gas appliances.
I don't think you would want to have Chuck use a light, to find the leak. That way you couldn't buy it from him. You know how you are when it comes to owning something third handed. Shocked Shocked Shocked
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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  chuck on Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:24 pm

I haven't done anything to try and find the problem today.. but I really don't think its gas pressure. The water heater works great and heats great.. so its getting plenty of gas. The problem is after initial heating.. even hours later.. the pilot light goes out. I think cleaning the pilot aparatus,.. tube, thermocouple, etc will be my first step. Then replacing the thermocouple. But I am not camping for a few weeks.. so theres time.

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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  coolbreeze1 on Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:15 am

Chuck, here is the link for the manual for the Atwood water heater.

http://www.atwoodmobile.com/manuals/waterheaters/MPD%2093756%20SP%2011.19.07.pdf
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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  coolbreeze1 on Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:18 am

coolbreeze1 wrote:Chuck, here is the link for the manual for the Atwood water heater.

http://www.atwoodmobile.com/manuals/waterheaters/MPD%2093756%20SP%2011.19.07.pdf

This is the same manual that came with my 5'er. I believe they all come with this one manual. Rolling Eyes
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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  Richard on Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:08 pm

Max is really smart. I bet he could figure it out. If only he could talk, or had thumbs to fix it himself.
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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  chuck on Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:47 pm

Finally got around to working on the new water heater parts. I have had the pilot assembly and the "Hybrid Heat" unit for a few weeks. The pilot assembly was a pretty easy install. Just had to remove the old one.. and the new one attached the same way.

The Hybrid Heat unit is gonna be a little harder because access to my water heater tank is under the corner bunk. The bed raises up.. but its pretty cramped in there.

So far.. I installed the heating element in the tank (done from the outside). I had to remove a couple of screws and take a vent cover off to get a wrench in there so I could tighten the series of nuts that hold the element in.. and plug the drain hole.

I attached the sensor to the hot water tank (inside camper). All thats left is to drill a hole in the HWH support case wall.. and run the wires from the element to the inside of the camper.. then mount the on/off switch. However.. I have a cordelss drill.. and I never think to charge the battery until I want to use it.. So I left it at that point for today.. and put the drill battery on charge.

I may finish it tomorrow.. or next week (I am off Mon-tue and wed).

After I installed the element in the water tank.. I hooked water up to the camper and let the lines fill so I could check for leaks around the drain hole. Since I had water in the tank.. I fired up the new pilot assembly. It worked fine. I left it alone for a couple of hours.. came back and the pilot was still burning. So I guess this part (gas heating) is fixed. By the way.. when I removed the old pilot assembly.. the thermocouple was pretty charred and rough looking.. that might have been the problem. I read that those can actually "burn out".. weird.

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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  coolbreeze1 on Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:50 pm

Glad to hear that you got your gas side to work. Now we are just waiting to hear on the electric. Good luck.
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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  Richard on Fri Aug 27, 2010 2:03 pm

I didn't know the pilot assembly could wear out, but I guess everything can wear or burn out. That's super that this product will solve the old problem, as well as pay for itself in time with propane savings. I'm also glad to hear that you didn't have to disassemble a lot of built-in cabinetry to get the new parts installed.
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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  chuck on Fri Aug 27, 2010 8:11 pm

actually.. its 2 things,.. I just decided to do both at the same time. The PILOT ASSEMBLY (Pilot and thermocouple assembly) solved the propane problem. The HYBRID HEAT will let me heat the water via electric or gas.. whichever I choose. Most likely will choose electric.. unless I need hot water quickly.

I drilled the hole and ran the wires from the heating element into the camper today.. but that was all (had to mow the yard.. then go to work tonight). After I wire up the on/off switch and mount it.. I'll do a trial with the water.. and see how long it takes to get hot using the electric option.

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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  coolbreeze1 on Fri Aug 27, 2010 11:09 pm

Don't know how long it will take for the water to heat with electric. My first camper, I had to use the gas first then switch it to electric. My 5'er on the other hand heats the water quickly on electric. Go figure. Shocked Shocked
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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  chuck on Sat Aug 28, 2010 12:09 am

Most of the time.. I am setting up in the afternoon.. and don't need hot water until at least.. 3 or 4 hours later. Seems like I read somewhere that these units take about an hour to heat a 6 gallon tank. Propane will heat the water in about 15 minutes.

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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  coolbreeze1 on Sat Aug 28, 2010 8:57 am

chuck wrote:Most of the time.. I am setting up in the afternoon.. and don't need hot water until at least.. 3 or 4 hours later. Seems like I read somewhere that these units take about an hour to heat a 6 gallon tank. Propane will heat the water in about 15 minutes.
That should work out great for you if you don't need hot water right away, if you do, just fire up the propane.
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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  chuck on Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:36 pm

I finally got around to finishing the install of the electric HYBRID HEAT on my gas water heater today. Since it was cool this morning.. working inside the camper was comfortable,.. for a change.

I am happy to report the unit seems to work perfect. After the installation was completed.. I filled the water heater tank.. and switched it on. I wanted to see how long it would take to have hot water. After 20 minutes.. it was luke warm at best. After about 45 minutes it was pretty warm. I had to run an errand.. and didnt get to check again until after 2 hours. The water was HOT! Plenty HOT! I am guessing it would probably take about 90 minutes to have water hot enough for a shower. Thats works fine for me.

(..and of course I still have the gas option if I need it)

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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  coolbreeze1 on Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:17 pm

That's a good deal. Now you know how long it will be before you have hot water with just electric, faster if you use gas. Very Happy Very Happy
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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  chuck on Sun Sep 12, 2010 12:21 pm

By the way.. I used the HYBRID HEAT (electric water heater element) this weekend,.. instead of the propane. The water was perfect. Always had hot water when I wanted it.. and the temp was just right. There is a place to adjust (raise or lower) the water temp.. but I just left it on the factory setting.

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Re: Hot Water Heater

Post  Richard on Sun Sep 12, 2010 6:30 pm

I bet it felt good to have hot water without having to worry aobut how much propane you were using. Now to camp a lot so you make it pay off!
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