Atwood Water Heater

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Rich_Bechtold

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Oct 7, 2006
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I just purchased a new RV(new to me).  It is a Four Winds 28C with a Ford V10.  I have done 2 test runs.  I am trying to get the kinks worked out.  My water heater and furnace are not working.  I have an auto switch with an indicator light on the inside of the RV.  When turned on it does not light at all.  I checked all the wires.  Everything is connected properly.  Connections are clean.  I checked the fuse.  It is fine. Outside the gas tank is full (the stove works).  I checked all the connections outside.  They look fine.  The burner tube is clean.  The igniter does not seam to be working, but even if it were, it doesn't appear as though gas is getting into the burner tube.  It cannot be lit manually.  I tried.  Is their a valve or shut off that I don't know about?  The shut off at the gas tank was open when I tried it. 

The whole situation is frustrating.  When I read the owners manual (which was I ordered from the manufacturer) it covers multiple models and points me to the owner manual of the appliances, which I don't have.  The OM is worthless.  When I looked on-line for info on Atwood RV Water Heaters it gave me a list of where to buy parts, etc.  The furnace is not blowing warm air.  I think the to are tied in together.  I am looking for tips and advice.  Thank you in advance for any support.

Rich
 

John From Detroit

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You cited two systems that have but two things in common (in some cases) and one thing in all cases.

The two things. 12vdc, If the furnance is blowing air at all, it's most likely using 12vdc to run the blower so we have that covered

!2vdc is also used for the control board which turns the gas on and off, IF THE DEVICE HAS ONE, Some hot water heaters have them, Some don't. (Furnances usually do)

Now,  The Propane system is the one system that they do have in common.  Here is a typical propane layout to the furnance, OR hot water heater, the part in brackets is optional


Tank - Tank valve - [safety cut off] - regulator - manafold - Furnance/Hot Water heater/Range/Oven

So, the question is: Does the stove work?  Can you fry eggs using Propane: IF NO, then you have your problem

If yes then you have a different problem, but it may well also be gas and easily fixed.

I would suggest you get one of the general RV manuals, such as the Woodals book (The one I have) or "The RV BOOK", (I thnk other forum members will chime in with a specific book, it is supposed to be the best, However I've not seen it.  so I can not say, but for sure it is a good one)

These books usually describe routine maintance and cleaning of Furnance, Fridge and Hot Water heater gas systems.

That is where I'd start.  Propane check and burner maintance
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Here is a link to the Atwood Troubleshooting page, though I admit it is not the most helpful such thing I have seen.

If the light on your water heater switch never comes on at all, I suspect a basic electrical problem of some kind.  The heater isn't even trying to ignite, which says to me a lack of power to the circuit board or a totally fried board.  Can you test for 12 VDC power at the circuit board?

You won't get any propane to the water heater burner tube unless the circuit boards opens the valve for an ignition cycle. ou canot manually ignite a DSI (direct spark ignition) water heater.

The fact that your furnace also will not light further suggests a basic problem. Again, it could be either the 12VDC power to the circuit board (separate from the fan power line, I believe) or the propane supply itself.

 

Ned

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On the new Atwood water heaters, the light on the switch does not come on unless the burner fails to ignite.  They are using a completely new design for the control board and switch circuitry.  When we replaced our Atwood in May I questioned the service manager about the light and he confirmed the behaviour with Atwood.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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On the new Atwood water heaters, the light on the switch does not come on unless the burner fails to ignite.

Didn't know that, Ned. That's going to create a lot of confusion around here when we get questions about water heater ignition problems.  Jeesh - you'd think Atwood would have consulted us first!  ;D

But I'm guessing Rich probably has the old style heater controls, since he bought the rig from a previous owner.
 

Ned

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Unless the water heater has been replaced recently.

The new controls also use one thermostat for both gas and electric with separate switches to send a 12VDC signal to the board to control the source.  We had to do a bit of creative rewiring to get our new unit to work with the old switches.
 

Rich_Bechtold

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Oct 7, 2006
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Rich_Bechtold said:
I just purchased a new RV(new to me).  It is a Four Winds 28C with a Ford V10.  I have done 2 test runs.  I am trying to get the kinks worked out.  My water heater and furnace are not working.  I have an auto switch with an indicator light on the inside of the RV.  When turned on it does not light at all.  I checked all the wires.  Everything is connected properly.  Connections are clean.  I checked the fuse.  It is fine. Outside the gas tank is full (the stove works).  I checked all the connections outside.  They look fine.  The burner tube is clean.  The igniter does not seam to be working, but even if it were, it doesn't appear as though gas is getting into the burner tube.  It cannot be lit manually.  I tried.  Is their a valve or shut off that I don't know about?  The shut off at the gas tank was open when I tried it. 

The whole situation is frustrating.  When I read the owners manual (which was I ordered from the manufacturer) it covers multiple models and points me to the owner manual of the appliances, which I don't have.  The OM is worthless.  When I looked on-line for info on Atwood RV Water Heaters it gave me a list of where to buy parts, etc.  The furnace is not blowing warm air.  I think the to are tied in together.  I am looking for tips and advice.  Thank you in advance for any support.

Rich

RV Roamer & Ned,

My unit is a 1998 with original appliances.  I only have one switch.  It is inside the unit, in the kitchen, next to the switch for the generator.  I have one thermosatat.  It is labeled "Atwood Hydrostat".  Due to the fact it read Hydrostat, I thought the furnace and the water heater somehow worked hand and hand.  I am going to change my log in name to Cold Play because when  am out in my travels this fall and winter, I will be taking cold showers in a cold RV.

Rich

**Edited to split the new reply from the quote of the original - RVRoamer**
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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I will be taking cold showers in a cold RV.

Nah. It's something simple and probably easily fixed. We just need more troble-shooting to identify the problem.

First thing to check is the availability of 12 volts (actually 12.6V or more) to both the furnace and the water heater. Neither will do anything without 12V power to their circuit boards. 

Perhaps the first question is: Are your other 12v power items all working, e.g. all overhead lights?  Is the refrigerator running? Could the main battery disconnect be off or the batteries just plain dead?

If other 12V stuff works, then you need to make a voltage check where the power wire connects to the water heater and furnace circuit boards to see if 12V is making it that far. I suspect it is not.
 

jalor

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Jun 29, 2010
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Rich_Bechtold said:
I just purchased a new RV(new to me).  It is a Four Winds 28C with a Ford V10.  I have done 2 test runs.  I am trying to get the kinks worked out.  My water heater and furnace are not working.  I have an auto switch with an indicator light on the inside of the RV.  When turned on it does not light at all.  I checked all the wires.  Everything is connected properly.  Connections are clean.  I checked the fuse.  It is fine. Outside the gas tank is full (the stove works).  I checked all the connections outside.  They look fine.  The burner tube is clean.  The igniter does not seam to be working, but even if it were, it doesn't appear as though gas is getting into the burner tube.  It cannot be lit manually.  I tried.  Is their a valve or shut off that I don't know about?  The shut off at the gas tank was open when I tried it. 

The whole situation is frustrating.  When I read the owners manual (which was I ordered from the manufacturer) it covers multiple models and points me to the owner manual of the appliances, which I don't have.  The OM is worthless.  When I looked on-line for info on Atwood RV Water Heaters it gave me a list of where to buy parts, etc.  The furnace is not blowing warm air.  I think the to are tied in together.  I am looking for tips and advice.  Thank you in advance for any support.

Rich
I'm new on this community.  Does anyone know the resolution of the above problem?  I just purchased a new Passport TT and have the same problem.  To get to a dealer will be another 3 weeks of camping time!
  Thanks,
Jack
 

700renegade

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Apr 1, 2010
Posts
36
One thing I have noticed is that if my battery voltage drops below about 12.4 my Atwood water heater will not ignite.  It's easy to overlook this as the lights and everything else will be working fine at this voltage.
 

drisley

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Aug 11, 2013
Posts
297
I know this is an old thread, but I'm having the same issue right now. Furnace and water heater not lighting. And I don't happen to have a volt meter on me to check voltages. Do these two devices still fail to light even when on electric? Are they always running 12V?

New to this, so pardon the dumb questions. :)
 

Einsteinnd

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May 21, 2014
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I have a 1996 TT with an Atwood WH that won't light.  I turn on the switch it makes one muted type click and then the light goes back on and stays on.  I have removed the thermal sensor and tried to ignite it that way with no luck.  I am also unable to see any spark if the switch is activated while I am looking at the igniter ends.    My question(s) is first do you have any other suggestions and secondly can this be manually lit each time I wanted to use hot water?

Thanks!
 

John From Detroit

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I will run the sequence for you.

With switch on T-Stat says "I'm feeling chilly, heat me up" (Switch closes). (Bad T-Stat, you already eliminated this one though)
NOTE that there are TWO T-Stats (T-Stat and ECO) but if it TRIES, it's not the ECO.
Control board opens gas valve and begins generating high voltage for spark (Control board failure, bad wire, bad connection, excessive spark gap (A common issue) Bad gas valve, no propane, propane turned off at tank or in some cases the Explosive Gas (Propane) Detector is turned OFF or has faulted and turned off gas flow (not all RV's have detector controlled gas valves).

Ignition happens; Possible issues: Clogged burner orifice, very dirty burner chamber.

Thermocouple heats up and begains generating 0.480 volts..  (Bad thermocouple, bad connection) NOTE: YOU DID NOT GET THIS FAR SO NONE OF THIS APPLIES.

Control board senses voltage present (Bad control board) and continues operation.

T-Stat ways "I'm all warm and toasty now" (Switch opens) and control shuts it down.


NOTE: On my Atwood, it has been known to take 2 or 3 tries to get it to work on Gas.. on Electric 1st time every time.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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The gas valve won't open unless the circuit board is trying to light the the burner and the valve won't stay open unless the igniter/semsor detects a flame within 15-20 seconds of the ignition attempt. All that is controlled by the circuit board.

If you hear a click there was spark somewhere. The "click" is the spark jumping a gap. It may not have been in the path of the gas flow, though. Rust scale, spider webs, etc. are a common cause of ignition problems, so start there. Also clean the end of the wire to the igniter where it connects to the circuit board. A pencil eraser works good.
 

Alfa38User

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Oct 4, 2007
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Several things to add to the above notes. Make sure the igniter/detector (one part does both jobs) is well placed in the flame or where the flame should be. You should be able to observe 3 clicks or sparks when trying to ignite. Make sure the wire connection to that part is very clean, no corrosion, and tight. The voltage produced by the detector is very small and a poor connection will easily kill it.

This part is easily replaced if defective and really cheap compared to changing the tank!!
 

drisley

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Aug 11, 2013
Posts
297
Just to update, mine is working fine now. Lights up quickly. Two things helped:

- Topping off the LP. Might have had some impact.
- The igniter was actually being grounded inside the tube. So, in my case, I bent the little metal thing which holds the igniter so that it wasn't touching anything on the inside of the tube.  Whereas before I did that I was getting maybe 1 spark attempt, not it will just keep going for a few seconds before it lights and it rarely fails.

So, yeah, try re-positioning the igniter so that it is within the flame and not being grounded by anything. Seemed to work for me.
 
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