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Old 08-23-2004, 12:35 AM   #1
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Can't find water leak - near fresh water tank.

I have a water leak in a pressure line somewhere near the fresh water tank. I need advice on finding it.

The trailer is a 1997, 34 foot, front kitchen, Classic Limited.

The water runs out from the sheet metal that surrounds the fresh water tank. It is not coming from any unpressurized source, since it leaks only when the plumbing is pressurized.

I have taken the floor up in the curb side wardrobe, just ahead of the shower and just above the fresh water tank, and there is no leak from the pipes or fittings in that area. When the pump shuts off, I can hear water hissing from the leak. It seems to be below the plywood floor, in the vicinity of the fresh water tank.

I have also inspected the road side area above the tank where the water pump is located, and everything is dry there too.

It looks like I will need to remove the sheet metal, fresh water tank cover that is bolted to the bottom of the trailer in order to access that area. Is this true, or is there a way to get there from inside the coach?

That sheet metal is attached with many (20?) fairly large bolts. Im guessing that this cover is what holds the fresh water tank in place and that if I remove it, the tank will drop down. That would mean that I will have to detach the filler tube, the vent tube, and the supply line to the pump. The drain valve will come down with the tank, but I will remove that to avoid breaking anything there. Is this correct?

There are two large petcocks that penetrate the sheet metal cover. One drains the cold water pressure lines and the other drains the hot water. I assume that these petcocks are attached to rigid pipes that will break if I remove the cover without detaching these petcocks. Is this true? If so, how do I remove the petcocks from the outside?

If this is as involved as it appears to be, I may just make an appointment at a dealer or the factory and have someone else fix it. Can anyone recommend a dealer in southern Indiana, northern Kentucky, or southwestern Ohio basically in the Cincinnati area?

Thanks in advance.

Loren
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Old 08-23-2004, 06:32 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loren
If this is as involved as it appears to be, I may just make an appointment at a dealer or the factory and have someone else fix it. Can anyone recommend a dealer in southern Indiana, northern Kentucky, or southwestern Ohio basically in the Cincinnati area?
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Old 08-23-2004, 08:19 AM   #3
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JP,

Thanks for the reply. Is this a recommendation or did you just find the name of a dealer? Have you used this dealer for service?

I just called Plapp's and talked to the service guy. He told me that he would have to cut a hole in the belly pan to gain access. I don't know how he would know where to cut the hole. Also, he couldn't tell me whether or not the belly pan is what holds the tank up. He thought that there were some straps around the tank in addition to the pan, but he wasn't sure.

This doesn't instill a huge amount of confidence. I'm looking for a service guy who knows more than I do about these trailers. Like many of us on this site, I have found that I often must do my own work to ensure that it gets done properly.

I just don't want to drop that tank myself.

Loren
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Old 08-23-2004, 09:29 AM   #4
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loren

dumb question, are your winterizing drains closed all the way? maybe you don't have a ruptured pipe.

can you get an eyeball on them? on mine i have to use a flashlight and a small mirror to see everything down in the "basement".

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Old 08-23-2004, 10:36 AM   #5
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John,

It's not a dumb question. I appreciate any input I can get.

Although the trailer's manual mentions only the two petcocks that I've found, I studied the water system schematic and found that there are apparently two more forward by the refrigerator. I haven't looked for these in the trailer yet, but I don't think they are the source of the water.

The schematic shows only one place where the plumbing lines pass below the floor of the coach. This is through the fresh water tank compartment where the pipes cross to the curb side to provide hot and cold water to the shower. The shower is the only item on the curb side that uses water.

My guess is that this is a broken pipe or fitting in that cross-over location because of the following:
1. The water system worked properly, with no dripping, while we were pulling the trailer home last month. This is a new flow.
2. The water seems (from the sound) to be running from someplace below the floor, but not from any location that is accessable. The water runs out of the trailer from inside the belly pan that surrounds the fresh water tank. Everything inside the coach is dry. (Thank heaven.)
3. It's not the tank drain, nor any other non-pressurized source. It only leaks when the system is pressurized, with either the water pump or city water.

Continuing thanks for the help.

Loren
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Old 08-23-2004, 10:56 AM   #6
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More information:

I called the factory service center and talked to a couple of different people. I learned, first of all, that the belly pan is not what holds the fresh water tank up. There are straps installed to hold the tank, just as the Plapp's service man thought.

The factory rep. told me that these straps can rust and require replacement. He indicated that it isn't an easy job, but the worst of it seems to be getting the rusty bolts out of the holes. I didn't expect to do that in any case, since I won't be dropping the tank.

He also told me that the way they gain access is to cut a hole in the belly pan and patch it with a screwed-on panel when they are done, again, just like the Plapp's service guy said. Maybe I was premature in my assessment of his skill.

They have had a fire at the factory service center, so things are backed up. The first person I talked to told me that it was about four weeks wait to get into service. As it turned out, I could make an appointment for three weeks from now so I did.

I have been fixing little things on this trailer since we picked it up last month, but I don't want to deal with something as involved as this. With the factory doing the work I assume I don't have to be concerned about the quality, and I can keep busy with the smaller things, like the drip around the bathroom faucet handle when it's turned on and replacing the weatherstripping on the screen door.

I am still happy to get any input if anyone has suggestions on getting access to those pipes, short of removing the belly pan.

Loren
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Old 08-23-2004, 11:28 AM   #7
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Pressurized air helped me find our leak

We found the leak in our '64 Bambi II by using compressed air from an air compressor. I worked the compressor and gave short "bursts" of air while hubby ran around, under and inside the trailer listening for the sound of leakage. He was able to pin-point the area within a square foot using this method. Then came the chore of exposing the pipes. Luckily for us, it was a blown copper line just six inches off the hot water heater. An hour and a half after we removed most of the closet cabinet, we exposed the problem and are in the process of replacing the line.

Good luck!
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Old 08-23-2004, 12:39 PM   #8
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A leak in the plumbing such as you have described is usually due to a faulty connection or burst pipe. The difficulty lies in gaining access to the problem area. A pro plumber will charge an exorbitant fee and expose you to a phenomenon normally referred to as butt cleavage.
Best of luck.
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Old 08-23-2004, 01:25 PM   #9
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Yukionna,
Thanks for the tip about compressed air. It's a great idea.


Rog,
Remember the slogan, "Just say no to crack."

Also, you hit it exactly. The problem is in gaining access to the leak. I think I'll let Airstream handle it. I'd rather work at my own job for an extra day to pay Airstream to work on my trailer for a day -- especially since it would take me three days to do what those guys can do in a day.

Loren
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Old 08-23-2004, 02:38 PM   #10
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Plapps

I have not been impressed with the technical expertise of the Plapp people. Admitttedly, I have not had any service work done there. Remember that in Rising Sun you are only 2 &1/2 hours from Jackson Center. I just took my new (92 sovereign) trailer there for their $300 inspection and subsequent repairs. I can tell you I spent $4200 dollars in a hurry there.(new Dometic refrigerator $1700 installed,Fantastic Fan $450,new door seals,new toilet, aluminum around toilet,etc.) They appear to have used a white sealant on the roof for the fan(why not sikaflex?) and didnt address a small leak around the door which leaked in a torrential storm on the way home. Just my thoughts. Wayne was our service man and he was very nice and knowledgeable, but their comment that they spend 8 hrs on the $300 inspection seems far fetched.
Try to solve it yourself or have a fat wallet.
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Old 08-23-2004, 11:25 PM   #11
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dik,

Thanks for the info on Plapp's. I feel that way about almost all service centers, unless I know for certain that the service person will do a great job.

It's not just an issue of having more knowledge and skill than I do. It's mostly an issue of who cares more about doing a really good job. That's why I often will do repairs myself rather than hiring a technician.

I figure it's a three hour drive to Jackson Center from my house. I will be pulling the Airstream up there in about three weeks to let them handle the leak.

Thanks to all for the assistance and pointers.

Loren
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Old 08-29-2004, 09:46 PM   #12
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Exclamation Not Fair Assumption of Plapps Pro Outdoors Knowledge

I am one of the owners of Plapp's Pro Outdoors. We are a new Airstream Dealer and proud to be. With that said I can tell you we are not the most experienced people when it comes to Airstream, but we take pride in knowing that we will not sell or work on something that we are not 100% positive we know what we are talking about. It's hard to judge someone from a phone conversation. People can be mis-understood and it's next to impossible to diagnos a problem any way but in person.

All of the technicians at Plapp's Pro Outdoors who work on Airstreams have been to the factory numerous times and have attended training. In fact we purchased a 1956 Airstream with the sole purpose of rehabbing for experience.

I understand that all the Airstream owners are very educated on the product and also very loyal fans. I would appreciate a chance to prove what we can and can't do in person. Please feel free to call me with any questions any day any time.

Thank you,
Matt Plapp
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Old 08-31-2004, 10:10 AM   #13
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Apology

I want to apologize to the people at Plapps Outdoors. I was still reeling from the monetary hit I took at the AS factory when I posted the negative comment. The people at Plapps have simply been honest that they dont have alot of experience yet with the AS's. This should obviously not be equated with poor workmanship or quality. In fact,I think it is commendable that they are honest. They seem to have a strong desire to be knowledgeable about this product. I will visit them for my next service and make a more informed post.
Sincerely,
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Old 08-31-2004, 09:39 PM   #14
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Another apology

Matt,

I would also like to apologize to Plapp's. I took the earlier comments to be about your service, when in fact it was the factory service that was mentioned.

I also haven't had any service done at Plapp's. I probably will use them the next time I get in over my head.

I haven't talked face-to-face with any of Plapp's service personnel, so I can't evaluate their degree of concern. As I stated earlier, my biggest issue with service people is not technical knowledge, but rather the willingness to do as good a job as I would do. I may take forever to get something done, but when it's finished, it's done correctly. That's not because I am the troubleshooting wonder, or some super mechanic, but it's because I care more about my trailer (truck, etc.) than anyone else.

It's quite possible that the people at Plapp's will care just as much. I'll give you a try next time. I would love to find an excellent RV service center near me.

Loren
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