My Water Heater Issue

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Chase

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Joined
Aug 12, 2019
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2
I understand that there are hundreds of threads about water heaters, but they're all different and I still can't seem to figure this out.

Here's what I'm working with:
29' Cirrus Ultra-Lite by Pilgrim Int'l: 29CBHSE
Atwood 6 gallon gas/electric: GC6AA-10E

When we bought the camper, the previous owner hadn't had water in it for at least a year and a half to two years. I got it home, we renovated a lot of things, and I know that the electric switch was turned on before we had water hooked up to the camper. After getting water to the unit, I flip the electric switch and it seems like absolutely nothing happens. When I flip the LP switch, the igniter starts sparking (no gas has been ran to the WH, yet), so I cut the switch back off. This makes me believe there's not a switch problem. I went to Camping World to (hopefully) purchase the ECO and thermostat contacts on the water heater (link at the bottom) but, the service manager at the counter was extraordinarily knowledgeable and was very confident that the problem was the element. So, I replaced the element, which was rusted and probably needed to be changed regardless. Now, when I activate the electric switch, I get the same result--seemingly nothing. The breaker is working, as I checked to make sure the WH was getting power.

I have NOT tried the propane, but I will tonight. The bypass is correct--I've watched 4 videos and read 19 threads about that. I have plenty of water running from either faucet and from either the hot/cold sides, but the water never gets hot, so I'm thinking it's not a check valve issue. I have a 55 psi water regulation/reducing valve hooked up at the City Water Inlet port. Last time I checked (last night), the pressure relief valve was not hot, either, but also has a constant drip.

Someone help. SOS. I'm out of ideas.

https://www.amazon.com/Atwood-91873-Pilot-Heater-Replacement/dp/B009UPL7TO/ref=asc_df_B009UPL7TO/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312192374842&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=16818982924173818225&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9052900&hvtargid=pla-527076206156&psc=1,

Chase
 

grashley

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May 7, 2015
Posts
6,591
Location
Western Kentucky
Welcome to the Forum!

The electric element was probably shot, so replacement was a good move.  With the tank full of water, turn on the power to the heater and you will hear nothing.  You should have warm water in 15 - 30 minutes.  NOTE  On some heaters, there is a second switch on the heater near the heating element and drain that must be on.  This switch can be turned off when the heater is emptied to save the element.

Note there is nothing special about the heating element, or most other RV parts.  Home Depot, Lowe's and the local hardware store all carry heating elements that will work well.
 

Rene T

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May 20, 2011
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Farmington NH
grashley said:
NOTE  On some heaters, there is a second switch on the heater near the heating element and drain that must be on.  This switch can be turned off when the heater is emptied to save the element.

As far as I know Gordon, that's only on the Suburbans.
 

Chase

New member
Joined
Aug 12, 2019
Posts
2
grashley said:
Welcome to the Forum!

The electric element was probably shot, so replacement was a good move.  With the tank full of water, turn on the power to the heater and you will hear nothing.  You should have warm water in 15 - 30 minutes.  NOTE  On some heaters, there is a second switch on the heater near the heating element and drain that must be on.  This switch can be turned off when the heater is emptied to save the element.

Note there is nothing special about the heating element, or most other RV parts.  Home Depot, Lowe's and the local hardware store all carry heating elements that will work well.

I've activated the electric switch and still don't have any hot water (tried that last night). There's no other switches anywhere in the system--I checked that when I had the WH out of the camper to change the element.

Could the switch be bad? Is there a "shut down" mode that it's in, even after I uninstalled it, changed the element, and reinstalled it? I'm just at a loss.

Chase
 

cerd

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Joined
May 29, 2018
Posts
621
Location
MN
I think you are going to need a multimeter to check and make sure there is voltage getting to the element.
 

John From Detroit

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Apr 12, 2005
Posts
26,277
Location
Davison Michigan
The only thing you might hear when you activate electric is the click of a small relay on the Back side (inside side plumbing side) of the water heater It is in a black box

IF the element is burned out.. It is behind that box and slightly above it.  I suggest replacign witha 1500 watt 240 volt (375 at 120) element (saves wear and tear on the park's 30 amp breaker).

The T-Stat and EcO are shared. if it's opening gas valve and makeing  sparks when cold they are good.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
76,141
Location
West Palm Beach, FL
You need to stop guessing at parts to replace and start diagnosing. Some first steps:

1. Feel the PT relief valve on the heater front side to see if it is actually warm of not. It should be too hot to touch comfortably after 30 minutes or so with power on.

2. If the tank & PT are cold, use a voltmeter to check to see if 120v power actually reaches the backside control relay and heater element.  You didn't mention the heater year & model, but it sounds like it is the version that has a 120v relay right on the heater.  This type uses a 12v switch to activate the relay at the heater. Older types had no relay and the electric-mode switch was a standard 120v wall switch.

3. If the PT and tank are hot, then investigate why the hot water doesn't reach the faucets. The usual problem is either a mis-configured bypass or a stuck outlet check valve. Nothing you described so far exonerates the check valve. Mistakes can be made on bypass settings as well. Some valves aren't all that obvious.
 

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