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Old 08-22-2006, 06:51 PM   #1
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are water heater elements replaceable?

i recently bought a 1978 AS and am troubleshooting the water heater -- are the elements and wire connectors available in spare parts?? thanks, tuna
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Old 08-22-2006, 07:30 PM   #2
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if you have an electric water heate from that era, the PO bought a 3rd party element and put it in the drain plug hole (which is how it was designed--others put a sacraficial corrosion element in there). Yes, you can find replacements on the web. I don't know how these add-ons are controlled.

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Old 08-22-2006, 08:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charlie tuna
i recently bought a 1978 AS and am troubleshooting the water heater -- are the elements and wire connectors available in spare parts?? thanks, tuna
Tuna,

The element that you describe is probably a 'Hot Rod' brand that is inserted into either the drain plug opening or the opening for the sacrificial anode (depends on the manuf of the heater). Camping World carries them. Please be advised that while folks do use these, they instantly void the warranty of new units and both Atwood and Suburban strongly advise against their use.
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Old 08-22-2006, 10:00 PM   #4
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lew,
are you saying the electric element has no temperature cut off??? i have a 1982 avion that has electric/gas water heater that is thermostatically controlled. i believe this is an atwood unit. and there is a two wire connector inside the heater cabinet but is not connected.
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Old 08-22-2006, 11:35 PM   #5
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Not at all!

If your unit was manufactured as a gas/electric combo then it has it's own thermostat and ECO and you can use EITHER LP gas OR 120VAC electric to heat your water.

The item I was referring to is added by an owner who wants the dual jeating option but has an LP only water heater.

If you want to test your element, Be sure that your breaker is off, disconnect one of the wires going into the element and do a continuity test, followed by an ohms reading. Most of these elements should read below 100 ohms, or they need to be replaced.

Just be sure that your unit was originally made by the manufacturer to be a dual heat source type.
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Old 08-23-2006, 06:41 AM   #6
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lew,
can you confirm that the switch/pilot light control on the bathroom vanity is for the water heater?? thanks, tuna
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Old 08-23-2006, 07:05 AM   #7
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Hi, Tuna,

If the water heater is a gas/electric, the label on it should say so. Some PO put an Atwood two-way in my Excella. The wires were run from the mid-bath forward to under the galley sink, but never hooked up. The electric wires came from a junction box at the rear of the heater.

I looked at the current draw of it, and I decided that I would have the choice of running the water heater on electricity or running the air conditioner. Since where I live air is needed 3/4s of the year, this seemed to be of little benefit.

The switch in the bathroom could well be the water heater on/off switch, but I can only talk about Atwoods. Operating correctly, it lights when the ignitor is firing to light the heater. Then the light goes out once the heater is running.

If you can't find the label on the water heater, why don't you take a picture of the outside of it and post it here? Somebody on this forum can surely identify it for you.

Lamar
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Old 08-23-2006, 08:06 AM   #8
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thanks safeharbor,
i'm 360 miles from my trailer, but i'm sure it's an atwood and am 95 per cent sure it is gas/electric because when i looked at it, it had the gas controller(shut off) and the electrical female connector tied in a knot and not connected to the heating element. now i looked at this connector and can see it has taken some heat over the years??? now i don't know if it is from an electrical overload condition or possibly from the temperature of the heater element causing this distortion??? the PO gave me the owner's manual but it was wet at one time and basically ---useless!!! thanks, tuna
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Old 08-23-2006, 08:14 AM   #9
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Tuna, the benefits of having an electric water heater for occasional use of the trailer is minimal. They only use a small amount of propane, and I doubt that you'll use an entire tank of propane in a season for camping and vacation use, even running the furnace full-blast for a weekend or two. The electrics really only are useful for extended-stay use; if you're wintering over somewhere for example.

I have a hott rod in my 34' from the previous owner who wintered over in it, but I've never used it, and probably won't. If yours is an after market unit, and is malfunctioning or questionable, my advice would be to get a petcock drain plug for easy winterizing and just pitch the hott rodd.

Roger
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:49 AM   #10
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Hi, Tuna,

So you could see the connection on the outside of the heater? Down near the bottom? That sounds like a "Hot Rod" heater insert like Lew mentioned above.

The two-way Atwoods have the AC connection in a little junction box BEHIND the water heater.

I've seen one fellow who had a Hot Rod that he put a regular electric plug on. At the RV park, he tossed an extension cord under his trailer and plugged it in to one of the 120V outlets on the pedestal. Hang around RV parks for a while, and you'll see all sorts of stuff.

Lamar
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Old 08-23-2006, 12:15 PM   #11
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safeharbor,
i'm beginning to understand --with your explaination and then i looked at the hot shot gizmo in an RV catilog and then thought how the switch/pilot light was installed loose and crooked -- probibly not factory installed!!! the idea of hooking this element up to a separate external power source is interesting also????? you all have educated me on the different avenues concerning he hot water heater --- now i've got to set up on my next trip north to my trailer to determine the way to go------thanks all for the expert info, tuna

ps: know you love that 2003 cummins diesel ---- i've got 115,000 on mine and love it!!!
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:01 PM   #12
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Well, stay where you are, and you won't have to worry about winterizing the trailer.

I lived 80 miles north of Jacksonville for ten years and never did. (I spent two years in campgrounds near Atlanta, and my only concession to the cold was to put a 100-watt lamp shining on the water hose and flush outlets.)

Actually, I think water heater tanks should be drained a couple of times a year whether you need to winterize or not. I'm always amazed at some of the goop that comes out. Since the Hot Rod makes that harder, I'd not be a big fan of using it. As far as I know, it's occupying the only place you can drain the water heater.

Loose and crooked? Hmmm. If the water heater has a big black (potted) circuit board at top right, it's the automatic model, and that's the inside control switch. These are nice because you can flip the switch to turn them on, and there's no worrying about it blowing out. (And no standing pilot.)

Again, Lew could tell you what generation water heater you're looking at when you can describe it fully.

Almost 50K in the Ram now, and just completed the first good tow!

Lamar
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