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Old 07-05-2010, 06:50 PM   #1
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Hot water heater decided to play games with me

We just got back from 3 weeks of traveling. The last week after the TAC Birthday Bash (WWWOOOO HOOOO!) the water heater would some times work and other days the pilot and flame would kick out. It would work a couple of days and then kick off every five minutes on other days.

Last time it did this I blew all the carbon out of it. I tried it again and it did not work. I paid a diagnostic fee at the Chicago land Airstream dealer and they said it was my pressure regulator and my thermocuplar.

Has anybody else experienced this problem and what did you do to solve it? Any suggestions?

Brian
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Old 07-05-2010, 08:38 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lothlorian View Post
We just got back from 3 weeks of traveling. The last week after the TAC Birthday Bash (WWWOOOO HOOOO!) the water heater would some times work and other days the pilot and flame would kick out. It would work a couple of days and then kick off every five minutes on other days.

Last time it did this I blew all the carbon out of it. I tried it again and it did not work. I paid a diagnostic fee at the Chicago land Airstream dealer and they said it was my pressure regulator and my thermocuplar.

Has anybody else experienced this problem and what did you do to solve it? Any suggestions?

Brian
Brian,

So which is it? The LP regulator or the thermocouple?????

How did they determine this? Did they use a manometer to get an LP pressure at the water heater gas valve? Did they remove the thermocouple from the water heater and place it in a flame while it was connected to a multi-meter to get a reading to verify if it was good or not?

If they found problems.....why didn't they FIX THEM ??

Just wondering????

Sounds like another case of give me the money and do nothing for it!!

It's really easy to speculate on a problem without any concrete testing or results!!!
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Old 07-05-2010, 08:51 PM   #3
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They tested the pressure and said it was to high ( regulator is 1 year old)

He also said the thermocupler was bad. I don't rember why he said it was bad.

Brian
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Old 07-05-2010, 09:16 PM   #4
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What model water heater do you have?

Is it a pilot model, or DSI (direct spark ignition)?

Getting a new regulator is not a problem, but they can normally be adjusted. Did they do the pressure test with 50% of the other LP appliances operating (like the furnace or cooktop/oven)? The pressure should be 11" water gauge with 50% draw on the tanks and main regulator.
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Old 07-05-2010, 11:59 PM   #5
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Realistically, it's far easier (and takes no training, just a look through a book on the subject, or the forum here) to replace those two pieces and claim they were both bad.

Who will challenge them on it? Not you, Lew, you would have done the proper test and determined which was at fault, then either repaired or replaced it.

Sad, ain't it? But that's life these days. People will complain about paying money for "tests", but won't complain about "needed new parts".
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Old 07-06-2010, 01:10 PM   #6
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How true!

Most 'RV Techs' today are nothing more than parts changers!!!! That's why places like Camping World exist..but even they don't generally 'change parts' well any more!!!
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Old 07-08-2010, 08:43 PM   #7
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Lew,
I just had my whole LP system serviced - cleaning, pressure test etc, and was told everything was in good shape. Over the 4th of July trip, I was experiencing similar problem as Brian described. Heater was hard to light, and when it did, it would run a short time, enough to heat water - then turn off, (or go out) and repeatedly kept doing this. I have a six gal. DSI water heater. Having just been told the LP pressure was good, is this symptom more likely to be the thermocouple or something else.
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Old 07-08-2010, 08:54 PM   #8
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same here

Lewster, you could make lots of calls for this problem.
We are experiencing the same trouble. We cleaned all of the electrical contacts with no change. Then Joe helped us clean the contacts to the computer card. It worked for about a day and then went back to not working/then spotty working. Went to the BD Bash and it worked mostly, but occasionally cut out early. We haven't found the solution. It seems to get better with use. What do we do to troubleshoot this the proper way???

Lou and Larry
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Old 07-08-2010, 09:51 PM   #9
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In my experience with rental boilers and water heaters, either a thermocouple is good, or it's bad. If it's bad the pilot won't stand. If the pilot lights and stands by itself, the thermocouple's good and I move on to the gas valve. If a gas valve is bad, I generally just replace the unit.

I still have the RV water heater to check out on my trailer but I think it's just a standard vanilla Suburban. Either it works, or I'm pulling it and puttin' in a new one. It's really hard for me to get emotionally attached to a water heater. Same for the gas furnace.
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Old 07-09-2010, 06:35 AM   #10
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I am not attached to either the furnace of the hot water heater but they are both pretty new but the warranty has run out.

Brian
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:20 AM   #11
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Had a similar problem, found it to be be the ignition wire shorting against the heater door. repositioned and taped it up, stopped scrathing my head.
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Old 07-09-2010, 03:34 PM   #12
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Try This........

If you have a DSI water heater (direct spark ignition) with no pilot light, there could be a couple of problems, assuming that the LP pressure is 11" water gauge AT THE WATER HEATER with 50% of the LP appliances running at the time of measurement.

First is the surface of the burner, which must be clean so the igniter can project the spark to it an allow the LP to ignite. The igniter itself should also be cleaned. Both should be removed to clean properly.

Next, remove the LP supply tube from the gas valve and blow compressed air or carb cleaner thru it. Insects or spider webs can wreak havoc here. Also, you will see a little brass orifice usually on the end of the outflow end of the gas valve. This should be carefully removed (threaded) and blown out. NEVER PUT ANYTHING THRU THIS GAS ORIFICE EXCEPT CARB CLEANER AND COMPRESSED AIR!!!!!

Next, there is a little device covered in clear vinyl that looks like a resistor. This is your TCO (thermal cut-off). I change these on a regular basis, as they DO go out on an intermittent basis quite often. That's why they are packaged 2 to a card!

The igniter board is always suspect when I get a water heater call, and unfortunately, Atwood and Suburban BOTH use garbage boards. Before changing a board, remove and replace ALL of the electrical plugs and contacts both on the board, the TCO, gas valve, thermostat, and anything else you can find. Cleaning will usually help an intermittent problem.

If all else fails, REPLACE THE IGNITER BOARD WITH A UIB-S FROM DINOSAUR ELECTRONICS. They are built to mil-spec and have a 3-year warranty. You will also need the AC/Gas water heater adapter kit from them also. There is no better board on the market, and they are made in the USA!

I think I've covered just about everything there is in a water heater pertaining to DSI heaters. It's usually a cleaning process, followed by elimination of component failure along the signal path. these don't have a thermocouple per say, but send a signal back to the board thru the igniter to prove the presence of the flame. Pilot models, OTOH, use a T/couple which also might be bad and need replacing. They can be tested, but different models use different spec T/couples. It's generally easier to replace it if you are not familiar with the performance testing procedure.

Good luck
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:45 AM   #13
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LEW I'm glad you mentioned about not putting anything thru the orifice. I once had a fellow who attempted to clean his orifice himself. I don't know what he shoved through the orifice but when he asked me to look at his water heater because it was " not working properly", he lit the gas and a three foot flame shot out through the exhaust port and out the side of his trailer. It was a sob white box trailer so I was not to worried about his unit, but I told him to shut it down and have it serviced properly by a trained service tech. I also told him that if he did not have it repaired properly I would have to report him to the gaseous fuel regulation branch here and have him charged. What he did was extremely dangerous and could have resulted in serious damage or death of other people in the campground. People please do not attempt repairs like this unless you are trained and know what you are diong. Every year someone attempts repairs to his propane appliance and causes an expolsion. Last fall an ederly gentleman near here moved his stove to clean behind it. He kinked the copper line and tried to straighten it resulting in a leak which leveled his trailer, damaged several others in the park and he and his wife ended up in hospital with severe injuries and burns.
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