I think my water heater ruptured!! Need help!

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Rhode Island
Hi I am new here, and new to owning an RV! My wife and I bought a 1996 Winnebago adventurer 32wq. Everything works for the most part, accept that when I went to hook up a water hose to the rv, water started leaking from the floor, above the black water tank drain. Naturally I turned the water off and started looking for the leak, but cannot find it. It is in fact coming from directly under the water heater service door! Now I’m hoping it’s just a line going to the water heater, but I’m pretty certain, (where not having bad luck, will leave me with no luck at all), I’m guessing it’s going to be the water heater. Wondering if anyone has dealt with this problem, and could tell me what to do, and how much water heaters go for. My wife and I bought this rv to travel to Florida from RI, and start over after losing our 5 bedroom home. So here we are living in an rv, filling up gallon water jugs, and trying to make the best of it until I get the water straightened out! Any help from you guys would mean the world to me! Thanks in advance and I look forward to meeting anyone with advice for me!
 

NY_Dutch

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Have you opened the water heater access door to see where the water's coming from? The drain plug could be missing or the temperature/pressure relief valve could be stuck open. Both are easily curable...
 
Joined
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Rhode Island
I can post a pic of my setup and show you where the water is leaking from. It has to be an old leak, because the wood is all rotted and broken where it leaks from. I wish I seen this before I bought the rv, but the price I paid for it, definitely compensates for the problem.
 

Viajeros

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Hi I am new here, and new to owning an RV! My wife and I bought a 1996 Winnebago adventurer 32wq. Everything works for the most part, accept that when I went to hook up a water hose to the rv, water started leaking from the floor, above the black water tank drain. Naturally I turned the water off and started looking for the leak, but cannot find it. It is in fact coming from directly under the water heater service door! Now I’m hoping it’s just a line going to the water heater, but I’m pretty certain, (where not having bad luck, will leave me with no luck at all), I’m guessing it’s going to be the water heater. Wondering if anyone has dealt with this problem, and could tell me what to do, and how much water heaters go for. My wife and I bought this rv to travel to Florida from RI, and start over after losing our 5 bedroom home. So here we are living in an rv, filling up gallon water jugs, and trying to make the best of it until I get the water straightened out! Any help from you guys would mean the world to me! Thanks in advance and I look forward to meeting anyone with advice for me!

Welcome to the forum.

Are you in an area that freezes? It it possible your water heater froze and ruptured?
 

Rene T

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Canyou get to the backside of the heater? There are two pipes going into the tank. It could be as little as a cracked fitting. Check that out before you remove it.
 

NY_Dutch

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One thing that may help you in the interim would be to check inside for access to the back of the water heater. Hopefully there is one or more bypass valves that are normally used for adding antifreeze for winterizing without having to fill the water heater tank. In the bypass position, the valve(s) would let you have running water at the faucets, albeit cold only of course. That would make life a bit easier while you sort out the hot water issue.
 
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I will definitely look for a bypass valve tomorrow! I haven’t been able to find a way to backside of the water heater tank yet. And I’ve been pulling things apart looking like crazy! But I will check again tomorrow before pulling it out! My refrigerator is directly above the water heater, and then under the water heater is my black water drain, grey water drain, and boondocking cable, etc.. I tried getting under the rv, and to no avail, I’ve tried the door above the water heater access which is the refriger access door! So I think I’ll need to remove it, to see the problem! I mean, there should be an access panel to the back of the water heater right?
 

scottydl

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Posting a photo would be great. Wherever that exterior water heater service door is, what's immediately on the other side (in the RVs interior)? On both of the RVs I've had, it is the lower kitchen cabinets. And access to the back of the water heater has been inside the cabinets under the kitchen sink, in my rigs. That area should not be hidden... it's something you'll need access to at least once per year, if/when you winterize the plumbing system.

Check out this recent thread for some explanations from Rene and I on how an RV's hot water system works, and how it is bypassed/winterized: Recently purchased an old class C RV - How do I get hot water working? The water lines entering and leaving the hot water tank on the interior side, as well as the associated winterizing valves, are definitely something to check for leaks before you tear anything apart.
 

John From Detroit

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Next test. Put the water heater in bypass (Winter) mode if it continues then replacing the water heater is not all that hard.

or you can replace just the tank (more work but less cost)

If you decide to replace the entire water heater pull the control box (the black box) off the existing one.... Just in case you need it in the future (Assiming it is a DSI type) this does not apply to pilot light types.
 

John Canfield

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Welcome to the forum, sorry you have to be here with a problem like that.

We've never had to winterize our 2005 Horizon here in central Texas aside from running a small space heater in the plumbing bay. However this winter we got down to 4F and sure enough we have a leaking water heater. The access to ours is by removing a panel underneath the heater. Haven't decided to try to fix myself or pay to have it done.

You can try to fix it yourself but I advise you call a mobile RV service. You won't find many (if any) RV plumbing parts in a Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.

If you want to attempt a fix, call Winnebago Owner Relations. Those guys can give you advice.
 
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Rhode Island
Here’s the outside of my rig. I crawled underneath, and no access panel. Directly behind my water heater, inside, is the refrigerator, and circuit breaker panel underneath it. I’m going to pull the circuit breaker box out and see if the bypass is behind it. In the pics I uploaded, the third pic is of the leak. Water pours out from above the outdoor shower knobs. Thank you guys so much!
 

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Gary RV_Wizard

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I would not leap to any conclusions about the water heater, nor try to pull it out without more investigation. Water heaters can burst, but it is not a common thing. Even in freezing climates. Leaky pipes and valves, though, are very common.

And I'll disagree about RV heaters being easy to remove - it's typically a real PITA! There is rarely enough slack to pull it out without first disconnecting the incoming water, gas and power lines and getting at those is near always a chore. The connections themselves are simple, though.
 

scottydl

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Great photos and description... that gives us good context as to what's going on. Your approach sounds like the best one to start, in finding/accessing the HW bypass valves and checking there for leaks first.
 

Rene T

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Where is the outdoor shower valves in relationship to the water heater? Can you give us a picture if that and a picture of the inside of the RV. The fridge, the entrance panel and what’s beside those items.
 
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