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Old 06-09-2014, 11:21 AM   #1
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How does the water heater switches work

When I hit the battery switch the water heater starts clicking - trying to light I think.

I know there are 2 swithches and a light but cant remember how they actually work.

Is there a way to keep the hot water off?



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Old 06-09-2014, 11:28 AM   #2
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One switch is probably for gas, the other electricity. On my 2013 the off position is same as room light off. Push bottom side of switch. The red light on mine doesn't do much. Briefly and faintly flickers when the propane is igniting.

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Old 06-09-2014, 11:35 AM   #3
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On my Safari, above the vanity sink, is a panel with a switch for the water heater and a red light indicating it is lighting. Turn the heater switch off and the water heater won't try to light. Maybe your model has something similar. The switch is just above the water faucet, below the mirror.
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Old 06-09-2014, 11:39 AM   #4
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There should only be one switch involved in lighting the hot water heater. Generally that switch is directly over the heater, in the bathroom, and is a toggle switch that lights when first turned on, assuming the heater is cold. The light will remain on until the main flame has lite.

Simply turning that switch off will turn the heater off.

Turning the switch off closes the gas valve and the flame will go out.

While the switch is on the heater will cycle against the clicks on switches mounted on the face of the heater. One of those clicks ons is normally closed and is the high limit safety switch. The other clicks on is normally open and closes as the heater cools to turn the heater on.
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Old 06-09-2014, 01:27 PM   #5
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So both switches down as in this photo are off?

There isn't a circuit breaker for the water heater?


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Old 06-09-2014, 02:15 PM   #6
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So both switches down as in this photo are off?

There isn't a circuit breaker for the water heater?


Yes, both switches down is off. The switch on the right is AC powered. The left is propane. The red light will come on if the propane does not light.
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Old 06-09-2014, 02:43 PM   #7
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The switch on the right in the picture that shows a gas flame is for propane. The switch on the left that shows a thunderbolt is for electricity. Both switches should be off when pushed in on the bottom. The gas light is a fault light. When it comes on and stays on it means that the heater did not light. There is not a light to indicate if a switch is on or not.
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Old 06-09-2014, 03:06 PM   #8
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Thanks for explaining the purpose of the red light. I just figured mine was broken since it never lit up bright. Now I know that off is good.
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Old 06-09-2014, 03:54 PM   #9
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OK thanks all - looks like I will be labeling those switches

Is there a CB for the electrical side?
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:29 PM   #10
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OK thanks all - looks like I will be labeling those switches

Is there a CB for the electrical side?

As previously noted, the switch with the lightning bolt operates the 120v electric heating element, and the one with the flame operates the gas burner, and the red light indicates a failure (gas mode). Both switches are 12v circuits to the circuit board on the front of the water heater. One of the 12v fuses in the fuse panel provides power to the board, switches and gas solenoid valve. There is a 120v circuit breaker that provides power to the electric heating element through a junction box on the rear of most late model water heaters. A relay on the passes the 120v to the element.

Pulling the 12v fuse will effectively disable the water heater, but 120v will be present in there should you go poking around. Switching the circuit breaker off will disable the 120v operation, but if the fuse is in place, normal gas operation is available.

This was probably an involved answer to a simple question.
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Old 06-10-2014, 12:18 PM   #11
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silver goose - thanks a lot for the info

I went out to the trailer yesterday and flipped on the battery disconnect and checked the switches, I think the gas one was on because I opened the water hearer panel and it was fired up. I closed off the gas bottle and it went out so now I need to do a thorough investigation with the switches in the down (off position) to check to see if the gas and electric switches are working properly
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Old 11-17-2017, 06:07 AM   #12
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Dumb question for an old thread.

Can one simply leave the water heater switch on so that it heats whenever it needs to?

I would assume that this is the case but I seem to be finding that I need to turn the switch on and off in order to get it to reset very often (daily at least).

Might I have something wrong or is this normal operation?
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Old 11-17-2017, 08:18 AM   #13
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If the trailer is parked you can certainly just leave the switch on. There are thermostats to cut the heater on and off as needed.

However we do not run ours that way. Since the heater is under my wife bed we cut it off at night for sure. Ours tends to keep the water hotter than we like it when on all the time. So about an hour in the morning and an hour at night does it for us. And I always have the water heater switch in the off position when traveling.
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Old 11-18-2017, 08:14 AM   #14
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Thanks for the response. In other words, if I get the red light staying on, it’s not working and needs a reset.

I did discover that my propane switching valve was kerfluey and Now that I replaced it, will keep an eye on whether the heater remains on or not.

As for the water temperature, Atwood makes an adjustable thermostat that you can install in place of your old one. The process is not too difficult
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