No Hot Water

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MN Blue Skies

Site Team
Feb 18, 2014
Our water heater isn't working on either electric or propane.  We would like help trouble shooting the problem.

MN Blue Skies said:
Our water heater isn't working on either electric or propane.  We would like help trouble shooting the problem.


Hi Max & Eric.
A couple of things to check are first the fuses. Make sure they aren't blown.
Next, unplug all the wires from the circuit board and clean all the connections. A pencil eraser works good for that.  Then plug them in and unplug them several times to help clean the mating connections which you can't clean with a eraser. Sometimes corrosion gets in there and they have to be cleaned sometimes.
What kind of water heater do you have?  Atwood is the most common and service manuals with detailed troubleshooting guides are available online.

On some models, both gas and electric modes are controlled by the 12 volt circuit board, so make sure you have 12 volt power going to it.  Like Rene said, start by making sure the connections to the board are clean and tight.

Is the water heater not lighting, or is it getting hot but only cold water is getting to the faucets?  This points to the winterizing valves on the back of the water heater being left in the winterizing or bypass positions.
mn blue skies II said:
Air was in the lp line so it would not light, no sure why elec does not work.

Max, is it a Suburban water heater  If it is, there should be a small switch outside in the lower left hand corner. It controls the 110 Volt AC power to the heater element. The other thing to check is the circuit breaker. Make sure it didn't trip. If it's a Suburban, the 3rd thing to check is the reset buttons. They're located outside just about in the middle of the heater. There's 2 of them behind a piece of rubber. Push in on both reset buttons. One may have tripped.
It's also possible the electric heating element has burned out.  Check for voltage on the heating element itself.  If voltage is there, the element is bad.
I see this "Air in the propane lines" all the time and when it comes to the Furnace and Water heater I frankly DO NOT BELIEVE IT.  These two devices suck enough propane to purge the lines on the first attempt. and if not the first then for sure the 2nd. and they try 3 times before they lockout and fault.
It may depend on the unit that it is installed in.

In our current unit, the furnace and water heater are mounted amidships, and even if I run it out of propane, they usually start like you say on the first or second try.

On our previous unit, the hot water tank was at the far end of the unit. After it had been sitting for several weeks, it would sometimes go three times and fault without lighting. So, it can happen.
WHebn it went 3 times w/o lighting.. Did it work on the 2nd operator try? 

Now when mine was new it lit every timer. BUT IT WOULD STILL FAULT OUT. Sometimes it took as many as 5 tries before it would realize it had lit. (That's five operator troes between 13 and 15 lights)...  Not a well designed system.

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