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Old 12-10-2009, 09:02 PM   #1
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Unhappy New Thread on a Repeat Problem

Atwood Water Heater Blues! Model G6AA-9E (Electronic Ignition)

I purchased a new 2008 Safari SE 25' FB in 2009. Right after my purchase the water heater would not light at all. It exhibited the typical symptoms as many others posted in the forums, flip the switch, red light comes on, relay clicks, gas flows, lights and then shuts down after a few seconds. I contacted an AS dealer and they repaired it under warranty (2yr. on Atwood). They said they replaced the sealed electronic iginition module.

Now after a dozen outings in less than 2 yrs. it is doing the exact same thing again and I suspect that the cure will be the same. This is absolutely unacceptable. Obviously the problem is Atwood's and not AS. But given all the issues with this brand of heater posted in this forum AS should find another vendor for the water heaters. Those of us buying AS are paying for reliability and quality. Not troubleshooting and repairs.

So tomorrow I'll take time away from work and tow my AS to a warranty dealer for troubleshooting and repairs. From what I read in this forum AS is well aware of the issues with this heater. Shame on them for not doing something about it.

Unhappy on the coldest night of the year.
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Old 12-10-2009, 09:10 PM   #2
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That's why I bought the straight "go outside and light the pilot" style of Atwood when I had to replace mine late last month. With my luck, if something can break, it usually will.

Oh, sure, some folks just say I'm cheap (and they're right), but I do believe in the "Keep it simple, make it fun" theory of life.

Hopefully you have good luck with the third try!
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Old 12-10-2009, 09:25 PM   #3
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Good point! But unfortunately it came equipped with EI. And I'm not about to pay for a new pilot light style heater. :-)
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:42 AM   #4
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Have you opened the heater cover and checked to make sure all the wires are connected firmly?...I had a similar problem and discovered that the large lead (like a car's spark plug lead) going down to the spark gap had come loose and wasn't making a good connection - it was hard to see till I wiggled the lead to find it wasn't clipped in correctly...just a thought!
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Old 12-11-2009, 07:48 AM   #5
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Sorry folks, I failed to add I did all the troubleshooting like checking the gas lines and pulling the wires off and replacing them but nothing works! You get the igniter firing, gas flows, burner lights, pilot lights and it shuts down.

Maybe I should take a poll of new (Less than 2 yrs.) owners who experience this kind of problem with the Atwood heaters? I suspect the number is high within the AS community.

Many motor homes and other trailer brands use Atwood. I suspect they have less problems because the heater is generally mounted higher off the road and receives less spray etc. So it could be an AS installation design problem. But looking at the AS forum posts more often than not the problem seems to be fixed by replacing the sealed igniter module. If that is the cause then it is and Atwood issue.

Thanks for the suggestions! Happy camping!
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Old 12-11-2009, 11:13 AM   #6
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I'll jump in with another obvious respose which is driven by experience. I had similar problems early on until I remove the orifice and blew it out with compressed air. It worked and I have not had the probelm again. Fortunately I have not had an igniter module failure.
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:12 PM   #7
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I'll jump in with another obvious respose which is driven by experience. I had similar problems early on until I remove the orifice and blew it out with compressed air. It worked and I have not had the probelm again. Fortunately I have not had an igniter module failure.
Mine had the same symptoms and I moved the air-adjusting collar slightly to close the vents just a bit. The flame still looks the same, the blow torch noise is quiter and it's work fine ever since.

As best I can tell, mine was still at the original setting from the factory.
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Old 12-11-2009, 02:16 PM   #8
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'49, although I have the same trailer you do, our heater has not failed. Thus, I haven't had to figure it out. If it were a less advanced system I'd say it was the thermocouple but I don't know if these modern units even have a thermocouple.

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Old 12-11-2009, 04:13 PM   #9
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'49, although I have the same trailer you do, our heater has not failed. Thus, I haven't had to figure it out. If it were a less advanced system I'd say it was the thermocouple but I don't know if these modern units even have a thermocouple.

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Gene,

I don't know a whole lot about the subject but I did have to fool about quite a bit to keep the Atwood water heater on our last (non-AS) trailer going.

It had the same sort of electronic ignition, and while they don't use a thermocouple anymore, they use something similar to verify that the flame is burning.

I believe it is incorporated in the ignitor. What happens is that a voltage is
continually applied to the igniter probe (a low voltage - not the high voltage needed for the ignition spark).

Assuming the flame is burning, the ionized gases that result from combustion allow a small current leakage from the probe. The electronics monitor this very small current flow, and if they don't see it, then the gas flow is shut down under the assumption that the flame has gone out.

That's my understanding anyway! Not 100% sure of the details!

Brian.
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Old 12-11-2009, 04:34 PM   #10
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Similar Problems.....finally resolved

We have the exact same trailer as you, and had similar problems. BTW, if you ever have to deal with Atwood....they are a pain.....most RV dealerships do not want to work on Atwood products because they are so slow to compensate for warranty work.

Sometimes our heater would work perfectly.....other times it did exactly the same thing that yours is doing. I replaced the circuit board (they sell them at Camping World for just over $100), and the inline fuseable link (I think it is a thermocoupler). I then realized that the heater was only working in good (dry) weather......a heavy fog, or rain, caused it act up. A hair dryer would eventually dry things off enough to get it to light.....but, standing in water with an electrical appliance was a bit worrisome. I'm not sure what the black module, with the green and red wires going into it, is called but.......I sealed the area where the wires go in with silicone, and the heater has worked great for the past year.

Good luck.....I know how frustrating this can be.

Ron
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Old 12-11-2009, 10:18 PM   #11
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Well folks the good news is that my local AS shop worked a warranty deal with Atwood and replaced the sensors and of course the heater worked perfectly.

Tomorrow I'm going to tackle trying to keep some of the road induced moisture from getting in the heater compartment. I'll post before and after pics as well as list the materials. Thanks again for all of the suggetsions!
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Old 12-12-2009, 07:42 AM   #12
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I forgot to mention that a lt of the problems I experienced with my last trailer seemed to relate to poor grounding of the ignitor assembly.

The heater would start up but would then shut down.

The ignitor had a central probe that carried the high voltage for the spark, and next to it, another probe (to create the spark gap) that is grounded.

Once the probe assembly is serving as a flame detector, the electronics monitor a slight leakage current between the main probe and the ground probe.

If the ground probe isn't well-grounded, the proper current to indicate an actuve flame will not flow - hence a shut down.

The ground was achieved by several bolted connections that often would get corroded and develop high resistance. It would still allow a spark to light, but would not work properly as a flame detector.

As soon as I would dismantle the assembly, scrape all the surfaces to bright metal, add dielectric grease, all would be well again - until corrosion got into the connections again.

After a few years of this I eventually ran a ground wire directly to to ground probe, eliminating the need for the current to cross several bolted connections.

It seemed much better after that.

No problems yet with our newer AS, but I imagine it is only a matter of time, our last trailer was a 1993 model, stored outdoors year round.

Brian
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Old 12-12-2009, 08:45 AM   #13
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My Safari has an Atwood water heater with the electronic ignition. It has operated very well. The trick is getting it to start after the gas has been shut off at the LP tank for a while. It takes several cycles of trying to light off before the gas fills the lines sufficiently to sustain burning. After it finally settles down, it will operate normally until the next time I use the trailer. I always turn the gas off while the trailer is stored.
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Old 12-12-2009, 09:29 AM   #14
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Having been through the same frustrating thing with Atwood water heaters, I can speak from experience that Wingeezer nailed it! And needless to say, this simple fix has been added to my increasing list of "things your Airstream dealer won't tell you"!!
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