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Old 08-19-2009, 09:40 PM   #1
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2005 25' Classic
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Water Heater Care - 2005 Classic

I'm kind of new to RV maintenance and general care. I've been told that some people when camping will leave the hot water heater turned off except when they are about to use it. I guess the reasoning behind this is that the water heater will last longer if you cycle it off and on only when needed. Does anyone see a problem leaving the water heater on for a week or two at a time? To clarify, I'm only talking about those times when having full electrical hook-up, not running of gas when boon docking. Thanks for the input.
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Old 08-19-2009, 09:57 PM   #2
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Water Heater Care

Greetings Redcobra!

To me, it has always been a matter of personal prefernece, particularly when an manual pilot-type model water heater is involved. I have had my water heater (Overlander) running continuously for as much as four months (when it was my home during a cross-country move) without identifiable problem. Most of the time, the pilot is the only part that is active as the main burner only cycles infrequently when the hot water is not being used. Another reason that I don't like to deal with the water heater any more often than absolutely necessary as both of my water heaters are cantankerous beasts to light when setting up camp -- once they are up and running they run quite efficiently (both are relatively recent Atwood replacements for the originals).

Good luck with your research!

Kevin

P.S.: The thought of having to trek out to light the water heater before my morning shower -- or fighting the mosquitos to light the water heater to wash the dinner dishes just isn't appealing -- I haven't found that it takes excessive amounts of LP to run my water heater continuously while in camp (I do worry less in the Overlander as I have twin 40 lb LP tanks.
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Old 08-19-2009, 10:09 PM   #3
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We generally leave the water heater on when we are encamped...it's just more convenient for us...and we figure we don't use any more propane gas to keep the water hot than we would if we turned it on just when we wanted hot water. We do turn it of when we are towing (though we would not have to necessarily).

By the way, in a unit as new as yours, you should not have to manually light the pilot, and even when you are hookup up to electricity and if you have the original water heater like ours, it is running on propane with a 12v ignitor even when you are on shore power...being hooked up to shore power makes no difference.
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Old 08-19-2009, 10:38 PM   #4
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Coffee on the stove in the morning will percolate faster if you start with hot water. We leave our water heater on.
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Old 08-20-2009, 06:46 AM   #5
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When we're running on propane we leave it on to avoid the re-lighting hassles as previously mentioned. When we're on shore power we turn off when not in use.

It's very easy to reach over and just flip the switch.

Regard,

Kevin
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Old 08-20-2009, 07:34 AM   #6
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We used to light the water heater (manual pilot light) when we set up camp, and then shut it off when we broke camp. With our current SOB trailer, the water heater has electronic ignition (which is really, really nice ). However, the water heater is located right underneath our heads in the bead and the bedroom window. After having it cycle on at 2:00 am once, we now shut it off when we go to bed, and then turn it back on in the morning. Easy since it's just flipping a button inside the trailer.

Chris
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Old 08-20-2009, 07:52 AM   #7
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We have an electronic ignition, too, and have gone to just turning it on for 20 minutes or so when we need to do dishes, etc. It seems a waste of propane to keep it hot all the time, and it does heat up quickly. However, if we had to go out and light it (as in our first 1977 beast), we would just leave it on.
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Old 08-20-2009, 10:42 AM   #8
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Our new hot water heater is a Manuel light and goes out after about an hour or so.....is this right?

Also can we add an electronic ignition to it....wish we had bought on with it but didn't.
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Old 08-20-2009, 10:59 AM   #9
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Water Heater Care

Greetings 76sovereign!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 76sovereign View Post
Our new hot water heater is a Manuel light and goes out after about an hour or so.....is this right?

Also can we add an electronic ignition to it....wish we had bought on with it but didn't.
Both of my manual light water heaters have a tendency to do exactly what you describe, and I have discovered that it is often evidence of one of the following:
  • The air mixture is off -- either too rich (may have visible smoke in exhaust) or too lean (difficulty keeping pilot going beyond one heating cycle). I have learned to monitor the flame after the initial lighting then adjusting the flame to a bright blue with minimal yellow tipping on the flames.
  • The coach is parked at a near 90 degree angle to the prevailing wind and the pilot is being blown out. If this gets to be an irritation, I have tried attaching a piece of aluminum foil such that it provides something of a wind-break with modest success.
  • There is a small spider or mud dauber nest partially blocking the air intake causing a rich condition -- a very flexible bottle cleaning brush is in my tool kit for clearing these obstructions -- I believe that mine was in a science education catalog and was sold as a test-tube cleaning brush.
I think lighting the water heater is my most dreaded chore of setup!

Kevin
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Old 08-20-2009, 11:10 AM   #10
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We have the electronic ignition gas only water heater—we turn it on when we need it, turn it off when we don't. The water stays hot for many hours when turned off, so that's a benefit for hand washing, doing some dishes. This saves propane and extends the life of the ignitor. If we had the water heater that can operate on electricity also, we might just leave it on (I'm not paying for the electricity), but it would shorten the life of the heating element.

The propane heats the water very fast, much faster than an electric element would. I don't think it uses much propane, but we don't see any reason to use propane when we don't need to. If the water heater didn't light easily, I might have a different viewpoint. The oven can be so hard to light I hate to turn it off.

Gene
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