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Old 07-18-2004, 04:36 PM   #1
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HELP! - Hot Water Heater Diagnosis

We purchased a '66 Safari last fall. We just finished fixing the copper plumbing lines due to PO's failure to winterize. Bringing the system under pressure for the first time, we noticed water pooling around the base of the hot water heater. There are no drips on the intake, outake, or pressure release.

The facts of the case: (i) PO did not winterize and the A/S lived NW of Green Bay for its tortured life; (ii) a fair amount of water drips out of the base of the water heater.

Questions: (a) is there any way to definitively judge whether the heater was a casualty of the failed winterization?; (b) if so, does anyone have recommendations for a replacement?; and (c) any thoughts on how to get this bear out of the A/S (it is quite large)?.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


-Brian and Tonia

Brian Regan & Antonia Galdos


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Old 07-18-2004, 05:35 PM   #2
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Brian - do you have an owners manual? If so, read it first. We just got thru replacing our HW heater. It worked ok, but we replaced because we were replacing the HW heater access panel (on outside of trailer where wires, lighting pilot, tubing for LP, ect. are). Ours was replaces w/an Atwood (available at Camping World) when we had a Bowen before. Bowen no longer made, Atwood took it over. Have heard good reports, but we have not tested ours out yet. There are some recent posts on changing out WH. I will attempt to add here.

HW heater help

Leigh (IB Aluminated)

"When a great ship is in harbour and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for." by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, author of ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves’
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Old 07-18-2004, 08:55 PM   #3
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Hey Brian,
Simple draining of the water system will leave a half gallon or so of water in the water heater tank. The drain is on the side not the bottom. Because of the shape of the tank , frozen water should not burst the tank. But age might be the downfall of yours. I replaced my 1973 water heater so I wouldn't wake up to a flood. Also the bottom of the tank fills up with sediments that diminish the efficientcy of the unit.
By the way, you can save yourself a lot of grief by calling it a "water " heater. Why call it a hot water heater. Hot water would not need to be heated. Ugh!! There's always some wise guy around to correct me on that one.
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Old 07-18-2004, 09:46 PM   #4
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We just bought a 66 Safari and replace dthe water heater, it wasn't leaking, but the lighting element was shot. Make sure you have an Airstream dealer do it if you replace it since they will have the right aluminum skin to make a new flange for the outside, and make sure they use Olympic rivets. The Atwood is good, we love it. BUT, we didn't get the electronic pilot and wish that we did. Also, ask if the 9 gallon will fit, we got the 6 gallon, and kind of wish we gotten the 9 gal.

Oh, and to get out the old one requires drilling the rivets, but then it just slides right out, I think. Also, pull out the floor of the wardrobe in the bath room, and you have easy (sort of) access to the top of the water heater.

But I really recommend you have a dealer, an A/S dealer do this, you'll be very happy with the results and the trouble free hot water.

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Old 07-23-2004, 03:13 PM   #5
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We got the water heater out after a little struggle - not so much with the extraction itself but with a set of bumble bees. They must have decided that the pressure/overflow openning in the belly pan offered a perfect opportunity for a new home.

It was definitely leaking out the bottom - in the center - not out the intake or outtake valves. Oh well. We will take your advice about the A/S dealer, the 9 gal, and the electric ignition.

Brian Regan & Antonia Galdos


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