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Author Topic: Water heater getting tired?  (Read 313 times)

motoxbob

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Water heater getting tired?
« on: July 16, 2017, 07:48:27 PM »
  My Atwood water heater (6 gallon tank) in my 2007 Damon daybreak seems to be taking longer to run it's cycle than it used to. Might be my imagination but yesterday I timed it at 33 minutes of running to heat the water. It was 85 degrees outside and the tank was full from sitting at the campsite all week until I got there so the water was not cold to begin with. That seems like a long time. It also seems like the main propane tank is going down faster than it used to.
    My question is do water heaters become less efficient as they age? The water is perfectly hot, (no adjustable thermostat on this model), and it never malfunctions, but it sure goes through the propane. Is there something I should do to "tune it up?"

Lou Schneider

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Re: Water heater getting tired?
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2017, 09:29:36 PM »
The first thing I'd check is the gas tube.  Insects are attracted to the smell of the mercaptin added to propane so you can smell a leak and you may have the residue of a nest at the gas orifice or inside the tube messing up the air to fuel ratio.  Propane gas pressure is about 0.5 PSI (11 inches water column) so the gas itself won't dislodge a blockage. Is the flame still a bright blue and burning vigorously  or is it more subdued with amber tips?

If that doesn't help, it may be time to get a tank flushing wand and clean the sediment out of the tank.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2017, 09:35:08 PM by Lou Schneider »

Arch Hoagland

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Re: Water heater getting tired?
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2017, 10:05:31 PM »
Years ago I replaced a water heater in a trailer for that very reason. When I removed the old one I almost dropped it as it was extremely heavy.

It turns out that minerals had built up over the years inside the tank and were acting as an insulator.  So, depending on the water you have been using, you may have a mineral buildup.

So, as Lou suggested, see if you can flush out the tank.
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motoxbob

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Re: Water heater getting tired?
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2017, 10:17:18 PM »
  The flame is as bright and vigorous as when I bought it 5 years ago. I am in dry Northern California and we really don't have very many insect issues. I think a tank flushing may be needed. Or maybe a whole new unit!

DearMissMermaid

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Re: Water heater getting tired?
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2017, 05:10:02 AM »
My hot water was guzzling propane. Then I discovered a Hot Water Hybrid Kit. This converts your propane hot water into electric hot water. It doesn't affect the propane, you can still use propane in an emergency or back up.

The kit comes with exceptionally good instructions for do it yourself and a regular electrical plug for an outlet plus a simple on/off switch and a thermostat. The heating element is screwed into the drain valve. I set mine on high and leave it there year round.  It's so hot, I use thick rubber gloves to wash dishes so I can use 100% hot to clean them quickly.

I had to add an extension cord to route my cord to an outlet further away that wasn't being shared by the microwave. The good news is the hybrid kit only uses 400 watts, so it's not an issue for a 30amp rig like mine.

I installed it myself 6 years ago. The instructions are very clear. I am super happy with it. About twice a year I run the propane for an hour or so to make sure it still works but the rest of the time I rely on electricity for hot water.

Heaven on earth.

The picture of the "basic" installation makes it appear the switch is on the outside of the rig, but my switch was installed inside.

The kit is sold at amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Camco-11673-Water-Hybrid-Heat/dp/B0024ECCJW/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1500284674&sr=8-1&keywords=camco+hybrid+hot+water+heater&&linkCode=ll1&tag=recreationalvehicles-20&linkId=0a5442d648bbaa9765d01a744fac2d70
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Rene T

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Re: Water heater getting tired?
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2017, 07:24:13 AM »
I am in dry Northern California and we really don't have very many insect issues.

It only takes one bug to build a nest. It only takes a few minutes to check and clean if needed.
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lynnmor

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Re: Water heater getting tired?
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2017, 08:08:17 AM »
  The flame is as bright and vigorous as when I bought it 5 years ago. I am in dry Northern California and we really don't have very many insect issues. I think a tank flushing may be needed. Or maybe a whole new unit!

Then you have the same heat input as before.  Tank flushing is something that should be a regular maintenance chore.  Clean tank, clean burner and no insects means you do not have a problem that requires replacement.

RVfixer

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Re: Water heater getting tired?
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2017, 09:01:23 AM »
I agree with the above posts...do some maintenance.  Clean out the burner tube, orifice and get the carbon off the probe while you are at it.  Also, drain and flush the tank using a curved flushing wand available at most Walmart stores or RV dealers .  Point the wand all around the inside of the tank but mostly toward the bottom where there is a lot of sediment debris.  Flush and drain a few times  I would add to scrub or wire brush the area inside the heat tube where the flame is to get the carbon out that can act as an insulator and slow the heat transfer into the water.  Adjust the air opening so that there is only a very little yellow in the mostly blue flame.

I had a gas/electric water heater in my last TT for 15 years.  Did all the maintenance twice a year.  We did a lot of boondocking so we used propane a lot.  The water heater was working as good when I traded the trailer as is was when I bought it new.  New trailer has a propane only water heater.  We do less boondocking now and I added a Hott Rod kit for electric operation 4 years ago and love it. It heats the water as well or better than my old one did on electric.  Using gas and electric together gives you a long shower and rapid recovery for back to back showers. 

Arch Hoagland

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Re: Water heater getting tired?
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2017, 09:10:39 AM »
My hot water was guzzling propane. Then I discovered a Hot Water Hybrid Kit. This converts your propane hot water into electric hot water. It doesn't affect the propane, you can still use propane in an emergency or back up.

The kit comes with exceptionally good instructions for do it yourself and a regular electrical plug for an outlet plus a simple on/off switch and a thermostat. The heating element is screwed into the drain valve. I set mine on high and leave it there year round.  It's so hot, I use thick rubber gloves to wash dishes so I can use 100% hot to clean them quickly.

I had to add an extension cord to route my cord to an outlet further away that wasn't being shared by the microwave. The good news is the hybrid kit only uses 400 watts, so it's not an issue for a 30amp rig like mine.

I installed it myself 6 years ago. The instructions are very clear. I am super happy with it. About twice a year I run the propane for an hour or so to make sure it still works but the rest of the time I rely on electricity for hot water.

Heaven on earth.

The picture of the "basic" installation makes it appear the switch is on the outside of the rig, but my switch was installed inside.

The kit is sold at amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Camco-11673-Water-Hybrid-Heat/dp/B0024ECCJW/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1500284674&sr=8-1&keywords=camco+hybrid+hot+water+heater&&linkCode=ll1&tag=recreationalvehicles-20&linkId=0a5442d648bbaa9765d01a744fac2d70

I have a friend who just bought a fifthwheel and I was surprised it only had a propane water heater. I assumed all RV's would have dual heaters. So I'm going to tell him about that kit.

Thanks for the tip.
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U.S. Gear Braking System

kdbgoat

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Re: Water heater getting tired?
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2017, 09:33:14 AM »
I know you believe you understand what you think I said,
But I am not sure you realize what you heard is not what I meant


2016 Leprechaun 319DS

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Water heater getting tired?
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2017, 09:41:44 AM »
A thick bed of accumulated salts in the bottom of the tank can act as insulation and slow heating. Flushing (repeated drain and refill) should cure that. If you get a lot of white chalk or granular stuff out, that is likely the problem.

Rarely would there be any reason to replace a heater tank, and 2007 isn't old at all. Atwood heaters typically last 25 years or more, even in hard water environments.
Gary
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Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Sun2Retire

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Re: Water heater getting tired?
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2017, 10:23:06 AM »
A thick bed of accumulated salts in the bottom of the tank can act as insulation and slow heating. Flushing (repeated drain and refill) should cure that. If you get a lot of white chalk or granular stuff out, that is likely the problem.


X2. I did a bunch of maintenance on ours before our last trip, including bad overheat limit switches, heating element and anode rod. Guessing previous owner never did anything. Using a flush wand and moving it all around I got a significant amount of debris out of the unit. Took 20 minutes of flushing to get it all out. Works like new.




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kdbgoat

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Re: Water heater getting tired?
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2017, 10:54:36 AM »
Here's the manual from Atwood. It covers adding electric elements and how to flush and clean your heater:

https://www.manualslib.com/manual/840393/Atwood-Pilot-6-Gallon.html

I know you believe you understand what you think I said,
But I am not sure you realize what you heard is not what I meant


2016 Leprechaun 319DS

 

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