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Old 06-30-2011, 07:26 AM   #1
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1995 30' Excella
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Atwood water heater fast cycling

So our new '95 Excella has an Atwood water heater, model G6A-7E. I'm having a couple issues with the water heater, but I think one is because the trailer sat for a year or so before we bought it...

1. It seemed hesitant to light at first, but it's now being much more reliable. During our first trip, I found several times when it didn't re-light after cycling off. This problem seems to be resolving itself - even toward the end of the trip, it seemed much better about starting automatically. You can hear the igniter firing, it just doesn't catch.

It was a little hesitant when I first tried it Sunday, but then it ignited immediately when it cycled back on. In the B190, it's very rare that the water heater does anything but fire up as soon as I hit the switch, so the slow starts have me suspicious, but due to the storage issue, I'm not yet ready to claim there's a definitely a problem. I'm keeping my eye on it and hoping it settles itself down.

2. Toward the end of the same trip, it started cycling quickly. I cleaned all the terminals Sunday and re-tested it, and nothing changed. It will light up and heat up the tank of water, running about half an hour, and cycle off. So far, so good. Then, when it cycled back on, it only ran for about 10 seconds before shutting off again. I shut it off after that because it was starting to rain, but while we were camping it kept cycling on and off that way.

Note - I did pull the venturi tube and verify it's clean. No spiders, nests, or anything like that. The flame is nice and blue, with no apparent signs of a propane supply issue at the water heater or elsewhere in the camper.

For the second issue: my theory is the thermostat is not the problem - it acts like the thermostat is shutting it off when it should and causing it to start when it should. I suppose if the thermostat were fluctuating in its reading, it would do this, but you'd think it would happen all the time, not just after it re-lights.

I've ordered a new board for it, but I hate to replace it unless I'm pretty sure that is actually the problem. The fact that it runs normally through the first cycle tells me that the flame detection is working correctly, too.

Does anyone have any opinions on either issue? Suggestions? I did some searching around both here and on the web in general, but I couldn't find anyone mentioning a similar problem.
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Old 07-01-2011, 06:23 PM   #2
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In case anyone else has a similar problem, a new board seems to have fixed the issue. I won't really know until we use it some, but at least sitting in the driveway it would start normally, run for a bit, then shut down - no more fast cycling like it was doing.
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Old 07-01-2011, 06:59 PM   #3
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Hi Skater, sounds like you might have a fix there. Hope it continues to function well.

I once had the problem of my HWH not staying lit after the unit would do the start up cycle three times after flipping the "on" switch. Once I adjusted the flame by fiddling with the venturi tube, it began to ignite and stay lit on the first time every time.

Keep us posted.
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Old 07-19-2011, 08:59 AM   #4
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Okay, so on the trip it was still doing some odd things: it would cycle on, run for 30-60 seconds, then shut down again. With the new board, however, it wasn't cycling back on as quickly - it'd go for a much more normal amount of time (10-15 minutes, though I didn't time it) before cycling back on again.

I was at Jackson Center over the week, so I picked up a new thermostat/ECO for it, and dropped them in Thursday morning. After that, I never noticed the water heater doing anything strange during the trip again. It would cycle on, run for a few minutes as needed, then cycle off again for a while.

So I'm not entirely sure whether I could've fixed it with just the thermostat. I could swap the old board in and find out, I guess, but I probably won't.

I'm not even sure the thermostat was bad - the foam covering over the thermostat and ECO was shot, and maybe that was affecting it since it wasn't being insulated from the burner's heat as well.

My suggestion for anyone with a similar problem: start by replacing the thermostat and ECO; it's about $20 and easy to do. I'm not convinced the board wasn't going funky on me, too, though. Still, I'll probably toss the old one in the camper somewhere in case the new board dies on a trip - it's probably better than nothing.

Also, on the slow starts: never had a problem during the trip. It fired up immediately every time. Ahhh, that's nice.
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:02 PM   #5
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Nice job. Again, I hope the fix stays. Happy airstreaming!
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