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Old 03-29-2014, 08:14 PM   #1
Rob
 
2014 25' International
Littleton , Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 24
Water Heater Repair

Hello,
I'm a newbie with an 2014 International Signature 25 foot Onyx Special Edition. I searched the forum for this water heater problem but couldn't find a thread. Hope I'm doing this posting correctly; apologies in advance if not; this is my first posting. Took delivery last month and have not been able to get the water heater to work. The unit came winterized so I inserted the drain plug in the external compartment and turned the ball valve (inside compartment) to in use. I then turn on one of the water heater buttons (one for gas and one electric located in bathroom - have tried both). The light to indicate a fault does not turn on. Water comes out when I turn the bath or kitchen faucets to hot but the water is cold. When I go outside to listen by the external water heater panel, I don't hear a flame. I also checked the fuse box; nothing seems wrong but am not sure which fuse is the right one to check. I've checked the AS manual and the Atwood manual but can't figure out what I'm doing wrong. The Atwood manual refers to a lock out situation and suggests resetting the switch (off then on) but I can't find any switch.
Would appreciate any suggestions.
Rob
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Old 03-29-2014, 08:43 PM   #2
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2012 25' FB Eddie Bauer
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Virginia Beach , Virginia
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First - do you have propane in the tanks and are the tanks turned on? I fulltime so I don't winterize it, but if I did, I would have turned off the tank valves! Check them. No propane, no fire. You might have air in the propane lines. Light a burner on the stove to make sure you have propane and to purge any air. If you just bought it new, some dealers don't top off the propane tanks for you.

Second, when winterizing, it's normal to bypass the water heater tank. There are valves often above the tank that allow water to flow AROUND the tank rather than through it. The tank is then drained, the lines are drained, and then filled with RV antifreeze. Bypassing the water tank saves 6 gallons of antifreeze that would otherwise flow into the tank. Are you sure you aren't still bypassing the tank... so the water isn't going in there to heat up? Loosen drain plug again... if no water comes out there's your problem. If you leave the electric heating element on with no water it will burn up, so turn it back off. Also... someone may have removed the element to keep it from getting calcium buildup. Make sure it's IN the tank.

You are plugged into electric power aren't you? Water heater won't work on electric from batteries. Also when breakers blow, the breaker won't flip all the way to OFF and to reset it you have to push it all the way to OFF, then back ON.

Those are the simple things to try... after that I yield to those with more experience.

Paula
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Old 03-30-2014, 09:05 AM   #3
Rob
 
2014 25' International
Littleton , Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 24
Thanks for the reply Paula,
1. Yes, the AS came with propane; I've used the stove and furnace and they work fine.
2. I turned the bypass valve from "Winterize" to "In-Use" and have not seen any other bypass valves.
3. Yes, water comes out of the drain plug when loosened so it has water in it.
4. Yes, I'm plugged into electric power.
5. Unsure how to check what you said about ensuring the heating element is IN the tank.
Thanks,
Rob
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:24 AM   #4
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2008 27' Classic FB
Burkburnett , Texas
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 955
Water Heater Repair

Welcome to the club, glad to have you, sorry you're facing a problem so soon.

I'm assuming your dealer is too far away for a quick resolution... For problem determination it helps to understand what is separate and what is common to the gas and electric water heater. They are pretty much independent.

For electric operation, a low voltage switch operates a relay that provides 120VAC power to a heating element submerged within the tank. A non-adjustable button sized thermostat mounted on the surface of the tank switches the current on and off to regulate the water temperature. Depending on initial water temperature, it may take an hour or more for the water in the tank to warm up. There is no indication that the electric portion of the water heater is working other than the water eventually gets hot. A 120V circuit breaker provides power for this system except for the low voltage switch/relay. This low voltage circuit connects through the circuit board on the front of the water heater.

For gas operation, a separate low voltage switch also connects to the circuit board. When operated, the board cause the gas valve to open and starts the ignition sequence. When operating, you should be able to hear the Lund of the sparking followed by the burner igniting. Once lit the igniter shuts off and the flame burns until a different non-adjustable button sized thermostat mounted on the surface tells the gas valve to close. This cycle repeats as needed. The fault indicator only comes on if the ignition starts, but no flame is detected and the system goes into a fail safe state by closing the gas valve. Turning the switch off and on resets the condition and retries. A 12V fuse provides power for this system. In gas operation the water comes up to temperature sooner.

The electric and gas systems can be operated separately or together. As Paula noted, it is important to insure the hot water tank is full before operating the water heater, especially in electric mode. Older water heater winterizing bypass systems used a combination of 3 valves, newer systems use 1. Since both types bypass the WH, the only way to know the tank is full is to manually operate the brass temperature pressure relief valve located near the top of the WH.

As part of my winterizing regimen, I pull the 12V fuse. This disables both the gas and electric operation to prevent me or a curious grandson from accidentally turning on an empty water heater.

If your fuse tests good (swap or replace as vision can be misleading) unplug from shore power and then try reseating the connections on the circuit board and to the thermostats under the foam rubber cover. Excessive dampness around the board has delayed mine from operating until things dried out.

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Ignore the line about wired by customer, the customer was Airstream.

If you know how to use a volt meter or test light, you could verify if you are getting 12V to the board. Verify the ground is good. See if you have 12V at the switches.

If this has never worked, it is possible the installer neglected to connect something. The board could be defective. If it isn't a simple fix, a visit to the dealer might be the thing to do.
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Old 03-30-2014, 12:39 PM   #5
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Milpitas , California
Join Date: Dec 2013
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I have the same problem as I ran out of propane on my last trip. I tried the electrical switch and was unable to get I to hear water. I realized I had no propane. I know there was water in the tank when I turned on the electrical button but it did not work without propane. Yes newbie problem.

I have not been able to test it to see if it works but it has worked before. Does the water heater work on 110 power connection? Also I think I do have air in my system since I have not turned on the electric button yet. If I turn on the gas one will this purge the air out?
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Old 03-30-2014, 04:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary W Wong View Post
... I tried the electrical switch and was unable to get I to heat water. I realized I had no propane. I know there was water in the tank when I turned on the electrical button but it did not work without propane. ... If I turn on the gas one will this purge the air out?

Gary, If you have a combo gas/electric water heater, it will work on 120V shore power without gas. If you have a gas only WH it will obviously work only on gas. If it has the electric feature and it's not heating the water, there is something wrong.

If you have run out of gas or the gas has been turned off at the tank, the line will likely need to be purged 1st as Paula suggested earlier in this thread. The easiest way I know of is to light a stove top burner and let it run for a minute until the flame appears steady. If the WH is on the end of the line, it sill may take a couple of attempts to light it. After that, it should light on the 1st try as long as the gas line remains pressurized.
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Old 03-30-2014, 04:11 PM   #7
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I have the two switches electric and gas so I am not sure but I think it needs gas to run even with electric.

I have a 2014 international 23' and yes the water heater is at the end. Once when I ran out of gas the electric did not turn it on by itself. So I am assuming it is electric srarter with propane to run?? I'm new to this.

I am assuming you both are right in air in The line. But I am confused by the propane button to the water heater would have filled the line with propane. The water heater comes on with propane.

Of course now that I think of it the electrical has to run without propane or I would use up all my propane on the water heater.

Confused and hope you can clarify ...

Thanks
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Old 03-31-2014, 08:56 AM   #8
Rob
 
2014 25' International
Littleton , Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2014
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Gary,
Thanks so much for taking the time to write a detailed reply!
Yes, dealer is too far away to stop by; however, I have called them twice but they were unable to diagnose over the phone.
I've been on shore power almost exclusively to learn about my AS before going boon docking; however, I head out today to several days of dry camping.
I have plenty of propane and tested again this morning by heating water on my stove; the furnace also works.
I don't understand everything in your email - electricity is one of my many weaknesses; however, I'll study it over the next couple of days while dry camping and try to figure it out. Maybe I haven't been patient enough in letting the water get hot or maybe (more likely) I turned on the water heater before it filled with water. I suspect I'll have to find a dealer somewhere if it isn't resolved by the end of this week.
Thank you so much!
Rob
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Old 03-31-2014, 10:41 AM   #9
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South of the river , Minnesota
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Hi Rob

It's difficult to troubleshoot these over the phone.

The water heater does have a high limit switch called an ECO (energy cut off) which, if it has blown for whatever reason, will have to be replaced for the water heater to work. There is no obvious indication that the ECO has blown without using a test meter.

The most frequent reason for the ECO to blow is for the water heater to be fired when there is no water in the tank. This can also cause the electric element to burn out. The ECO and electric element are cheap and straightforward to replace, and are kept in stock by RV repair places since this is a common problem.

You might be best off to stop by the closest shop that offers RV repairs. Even if they aren't accustomed to working on Airstreams, they should be able to help.
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Old 04-01-2014, 09:04 AM   #10
Rob
 
2014 25' International
Littleton , Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 24
Thank you for the reply and advice. I'm dry camping now and the water heater still is not working. I've got plenty of propane and have now confirmed it doesn't work on either electric or propane. Thanks for defining "ECO" - I've been wondering http://www.airforums.com/forums/imag...lies/smile.gif) Your suggestion to replace the ECO and electric element seem like a good first step; I'll check in the nearest town (Las Cruces, NM) for an RV repair shop and give it a try.
Thank you!
Rob
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Old 04-01-2014, 10:30 AM   #11
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Why not simply bring it back to the dealer. Surely it's got to be under warranty.
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Old 04-02-2014, 02:06 AM   #12
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Yes if it is new it can be repaired under warranty
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:38 AM   #13
Rob
 
2014 25' International
Littleton , Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 24
Thank you for your responses. I'm 1000 miles from my dealer (Windish). Have earliest appointment available (2 weeks) at dealer closest to me. In addition to water heater not working my inverter has also stopped working.
Appreciate all the suggestions.
Best,
Rob
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Old 04-06-2014, 02:56 PM   #14
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1987 32' Excella
Nepean , Ontario
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I'm not sure about the model water heater you have, but on the one I have, there is an inline thermal breaker that will blow if there is any blockage that prevents the propane from firing into the burner tube - this has happened to me when there were spider webs in the burner tube. The breaker looks like a clear plastic tube with a wire through it and it connects from the +12dc supply to the 12 vdc input of the water heater. These breakers are not reusable. One thing I did was to use compressed air to blow any debris out of the burner tube, and I got a face-full of spider webs.

This may be your issue.
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