water heater

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Barry J

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Jun 20, 2018
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I have an Atwood G6A-8E gas water heater, which is strictly gas.
Should I be running it all the time while spending time down at my camper?
Even if I am at the beach for the whole day?
Or should I just start it up 15 minutes before I want to take a shower, or when I am back in my camper for some time. Instead of running it while I am not there
 

Rene T

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Farmington NH
I have gas/electric and leave mine on electric all the time even if were gone all day. I do shut the water off just in case..
 

blw2

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Saint Johns, FL
I'd shut it off, personally.  Even if it cuts on for a bit mid day just to keep things hot, that's still wasted propane if I'm not about to need hot water.

Rene T said:
I have gas/electric and leave mine on electric all the time even if were gone all day. I do shut the water off just in case..

Rene
I'll suggest that you may want to reconsider this.  general "best practice" rule of thumb I've been taught about working on residential water heaters is that if you shut off the water be sure to shut off the power.
The thought is this.... & I'll just make up a scenario....

let's say someone came up to your RV while you were away and tried to use the outdoor shower.  Also, you happened to leave one of your sinks dripping, just a bit..... that dripping faucet might be enough to let air into the hot water pipe which might allow the water in the heater to siphon out.  Now you have an empty water heater sensing cold so it turns on.... kills the element...or worse.

I bought a foreclosure house that was less than 1 year old when the owner foreclosed and moved out.  Two water heaters.  It had been vacant for a long time.  the plumbing system had been winterized.  I don't remember for sure but I think the power was on.  If not, I'm pretty sure it had been at some point.
Anyway, when i bought it I had to replace 4 burned out elements

edit:  I remembered that the power was on, because we had to run the pool pump before my lender would process the sale...
 

mel s

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Apr 28, 2014
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879
Barry J said:
I have an Atwood G6A-8E gas water heater, which is strictly gas.
Should I be running it all the time while spending time down at my camper?
Even if I am at the beach for the whole day?
Or should I just start it up 15 minutes before I want to take a shower, or when I am back in my camper for some time. Instead of running it while I am not there

Barry J
I run my 10 gal propane only water heater anytime my coach is parked for use, (not while in motion/traveling or while in storage).
 

John From Detroit

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Apr 12, 2005
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Davison Michigan
I am using electric but on limited power sites turn it on when I need hot.

I'd do the same in your case. no need to waste gas keeping the water hot when you don't need it.  Only I'd go 30-45 minutes before use.
 

Rene T

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Farmington NH
blw2 said:
Rene
I'll suggest that you may want to reconsider this.  general "best practice" rule of thumb I've been taught about working on residential water heaters is that if you shut off the water be sure to shut off the power.
The thought is this.... & I'll just make up a scenario....

let's say someone came up to your RV while you were away and tried to use the outdoor shower.  Also, you happened to leave one of your sinks dripping, just a bit..... that dripping faucet might be enough to let air into the hot water pipe which might allow the water in the heater to siphon out.  Now you have an empty water heater sensing cold so it turns on.... kills the element...or worse.

I hear ya Brad but 30 years of rv'ing and never had that type of issue. Not saying it would never happen. But Oh well. Thanks for the thought. We are going on a 4 day cruise this January and I had planned to shut it off then.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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At my Silver Springs FL home
Should I be running it all the time while spending time down at my camper? ...Or should I just start it up 15 minutes before I want to take a shower,
I don't think there is a "should", one way or the other.  Mostly a matter of personal convenience and preference.  The propane cost of leaving it on 24/7 is very modest but the trade-off is just planning about 25-30 minutes ahead of time to take a shower or whatever. Hardly a big deal either way.

I suspect this question would not even arise if you were in a site-built home or apartment. Few people ever turn off their water heater at home when going to work or off to the beach for the day.
 

mel s

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879
Gary RV_Wizard said:
I don't think there is a "should", one way or the other. 
I suspect this question would not even arise if you were in a site-built home or apartment. Few people ever turn off their water heater at home when going to work or off to the beach for the day.

Gary RV_Wizard
Excellent point!
 

RVfixer

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Aug 12, 2012
Posts
355
I always turn off my water source AND the water heater when I leave the trailer.  I have seen enough water pouring out of trailer doors to convince me and have helped enough friends clean up their flooded trailers.  So why do I turn the water heater off when I leave?  Well, I assume that most RVers know that if your thermostat goes out (they do) the ECO is now controlling and the water is a little hotter.  Eventually the ECO fails (they do) and the water never stops heating.  The water gets hotter and hotter until the P&T valve pops open and hot steamy water comes pouring out of the P&T.  I have had that happen once and seen it happen to others several times.  Of course that was while I was at the trailer!

If the water is left ON when you leave, taking the chance of flooding the trailer...and the water heater left ON...all is well as cold water will come in to cool things off if the P&T pops open.  If the water is off and you have a runaway water heater...well, that's not good!  Best case you need a new element, worst case you need and new water heater.  I say shut both the water and the water heater off when you leave the trailer and be safe.

To the OPs question...You can leave it on when you are there at the rig...but I would likely light it off 15 or 20 minutes before I needed hot water.  That may or may not save propane but it will prevent some carbon buildup on the igniter/sensor probe and require less maintenance.  I would for sure turn the water heater off when I went out for the day or even a couple of hours.

There are many different ways that the trailer can flood if you leave the water ON when you leave.  Here is the last one I saw.  Water went out in the campground.  Folks then went out for a few hours leaving the campsite water ON. They came back to a totally flooded trailer.  What happened?  When the guy tried the water to see if it come back ON yet, it was still off.  He accidentally left that bathroom sink faucet Open.  While they were away the campground water came ON and the spitting water knocked the sink plug closed.  The sink quickly filled and overflowed and flooded the trailer.  It is an awful feeling to come back and see water coming out from under both your entry doors.  Might as well not run to the faucet....Too late!!

Another one I saw was about the same but the sink drain was Open, the grey water tank was partially filled.  The water, when it came on, filled the grey tank and overflowed out of the shower and flooded the rig.

That's just my two-cents..........
 

skydivemark

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Oct 3, 2015
Posts
426
Location
Central Florida
I/We turn it on 15-30 minutes before a shower, sometimes the night before if we plan to hit the road early.
Also - at home I always turn off the house water heater (its breaker) when we go away. Reason: several years ago my neighbors house caught fire due to faulty water heater, they were gone when it happened. Fortunately another neighbor noticed smoke thru a window and called 911, so it wasn't a total loss, but easily could have been.
I even went as far as putting a timer on my house water heater, it turns on at 4am and off at 7am so it's off when we're at work or out running around.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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At my Silver Springs FL home
Anything can break, whether at home or in an RV.  The question is how often, and how likely to cause majr damage.  We've lived 5-7 months per year in our RVs for 20 years and never experienced the water heater issues that RVFixer (and others) seems to feel are a risk. Doesn't mean one of them would not have happened in year 21, but just it's not something we ever worried much about.  We all have different tolerance for lef's numerous risks, whatever the type.  Gotta take whatever measures make you comfortable.
 
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