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Old 05-28-2012, 07:17 PM   #1
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Grrr...water heater won't stay lit

So we went camping this weekend, a good time was had...except. The water heater would not stay lit. It is a Suburban 6 gallon that I installed in my 1967 Tradewind about a year and a half ago. Last winter I stayed in the Airstream for about 10 weeks, the heater worked perfectly. This time it would quit, sometimes right after I lite it, sometimes after the water was warmed up. I'm wondering does the altitude affect it? Last year when it worked flawlessly altitude was about 3000 feet. This trip we were camped at about 7000 feet. The fridge & stove worked OK. Any thought's would be appreciated. Thanks, John
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Old 05-28-2012, 07:38 PM   #2
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If you have a pilot light model and the pilot will light, Check to make sure the little metal rod above the pilot light is in the flame. Sometimes they will move out adjustment traveling, it tells the valve it's ok to open up the gas flow. I believe it's called a thermocoupler, If its not, i will be corrected shortly.
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Old 05-28-2012, 07:46 PM   #3
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Yes it could.
Light it on pilot and look at the flame. It should be mor eon the blue color than yellow. If yellow adjust the pilot adjustment to give you a stronger blue flame.

If the pilot is good turn it to on and again look at the flame. If sputtering or yellow adjust the air makeup tube to give you a stronger constant flame.

If the flame is very weak remove the air tube and orifice make sure it is clear of spider nest, stink bugs, or any other dirt. Come to think about it this may be the place to start.
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Old 05-28-2012, 08:16 PM   #4
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Ok. Tis is probably not it but I will share it anyway just to make sure. I had the same symptoms after de-winterizing my unit last year. The pilot would light and stay on for a few mins and then turn off on my water heater.

It turned out that I did not open my water heater bypass valves after winterization so the unit was shutting off because there was no water in the tank. I changed the valves to open, filled the tank, and voila the burner stayed lit.

With double checking that you have water in the tank. You probably do but just worth checking. (-;
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Old 05-28-2012, 08:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diesel1 View Post
So we went camping this weekend, a good time was had...except. The water heater would not stay lit. It is a Suburban 6 gallon that I installed in my 1967 Tradewind about a year and a half ago. Last winter I stayed in the Airstream for about 10 weeks, the heater worked perfectly. This time it would quit, sometimes right after I lite it, sometimes after the water was warmed up. I'm wondering does the altitude affect it? Last year when it worked flawlessly altitude was about 3000 feet. This trip we were camped at about 7000 feet. The fridge & stove worked OK. Any thought's would be appreciated. Thanks, John
Yes, I found altitude did affect my water heater. It would only burn for a minute or less when camping at 10,200'. When I took it in to the dealer back home, it worked just fine (of course). I had the dealer check and raise the pressure from the regulator and that seems to have solved my problem.
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Old 05-28-2012, 10:02 PM   #6
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The pilot burns blue as does the main burner. Maybe increasing the gas pressure a tad is the answer. Thanks for the reply's! John
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Old 05-28-2012, 11:16 PM   #7
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I had a simular experience in lake tahoe last winter. I found the problem to be air not pressure. I dropped the door panel and it solved the problem for the duration of my trip. Of coarse when I returned home the problem no longer existed.
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Old 05-29-2012, 12:10 AM   #8
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I had a simular experience in lake tahoe last winter. I found the problem to be air not pressure. I dropped the door panel and it solved the problem for the duration of my trip. Of coarse when I returned home the problem no longer existed.
Hmm....interesting, all my observations were with the door panel removed. I have to remove the panel to light the heater. It only went out each time after I replaced the panel. Thanks, John
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:56 AM   #9
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I can't envision the door panel having any effect. The air volume is controlled by the adjustment on the air tube and the ration of open area between there and the door has got to be over a 50 to 1.

You say it may fail early after lighting or after the heater has gone through a complete cycle. The common potential there is the limit switches. Check the connections on the 2 limit switches to make sure they are clean, just remove and reinstall once or twice,and tight. A way to test them is to bypass them with a jumper wire. The heater should come on and remain on as long as the jumper wire is in place, if that was the problem. If you do this do not operate the heater in this mode for more than 5 min at a time and preferably from a cold heater. Operating for a longer period will cause the safety to open. This is a test mode only to proof the limits are not the problem.

While lite do you hear a good solid sound from the heater or is it just a quite flame. If quite you need to adjust the air till you hear the flame.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:28 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
I can't envision the door panel having any effect. The air volume is controlled by the adjustment on the air tube and the ration of open area between there and the door has got to be over a 50 to 1.

You say it may fail early after lighting or after the heater has gone through a complete cycle. The common potential there is the limit switches. Check the connections on the 2 limit switches to make sure they are clean, just remove and reinstall once or twice,and tight. A way to test them is to bypass them with a jumper wire. The heater should come on and remain on as long as the jumper wire is in place, if that was the problem. If you do this do not operate the heater in this mode for more than 5 min at a time and preferably from a cold heater. Operating for a longer period will cause the safety to open. This is a test mode only to proof the limits are not the problem.

While lite do you hear a good solid sound from the heater or is it just a quite flame. If quite you need to adjust the air till you hear the flame.
My water heater is completly mechanical. No wires at all. It sounds & looks (the pilot & main burner flame) like it does at the lower altitude.
Also I apparantly bought the cheapest heater available because there is no sliding shutter or any provision to ajust the air mixture. I attempted to ajust the mixture by wraping a piece off aluminum foil around the air venturi intake but that did not help it made the fuel mix even richer ( ie yellow flame) which I suspected would happen.
I am leaning toward the theory that the door is too restrictive.
John
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Old 10-26-2012, 09:29 AM   #11
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Did you solve the problem?? After installing 3 different valves I took everything apart and found a moth in the gas line near the water heater.
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