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Old 02-06-2016, 09:09 AM   #15
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Buy a new tank or complete unit. Chalk it up as the cost of owning an RV. Drain the tank whenever it is not in use.
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Old 02-06-2016, 09:39 AM   #16
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I always drain mine between uses. Doing so should avoid any problems with water chemistry in addition to any sediment buildup. This would not be possible for full-timers, of course.

My house waterheaters seem to last forever. I guess they're glass-lined?
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Old 02-06-2016, 11:23 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drboyd View Post
Exactly. Corrosion theory says that corrosion leaks will appear on a log scale - if you have ten leaks this year, you'll have a hundred leaks next year.
Get 'em at Camping World or your local RV parts dept. They're pretty common.

Tom
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Old 02-07-2016, 08:39 AM   #18
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Perhaps the chemist here can chime in. I don't think the sacrificial anode will be as effective in an aluminum tank as it is in a Suburban water heater which has a steel tank.
The area on the tank that shows the rust appears to be close to the water level of the tank when full.
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Old 02-07-2016, 09:28 AM   #19
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No anode needed with an aluminum tank, and if a pinhole leak is confirmed, IMHO an attempted repair would be a waste of time at this stage - a new water heater is the answer I'm afraid!

Brian.
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Old 02-07-2016, 10:23 AM   #20
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Atwood has a very good on line manual covering a lot of information on how they work and repairs.

http://manuals.adventurerv.net/Atwoo...er-Service.pdf

On page 26 they talk about leaks and anodes.
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Old 02-07-2016, 12:36 PM   #21
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I've always chalked up variable tank life to differing amounts of use, and water chemistry. Now I am wondering.

I've had three tanks with pinhole leaks over 17 years of full-timing. Not one leaked from the flue. Atwood states:

"The aluminum tank is the anode and the metals in the water serve as the cathode. Consequently, the aluminum gradually sacrifices itself and aluminum particles are carried away with the water flow. A white scaly material (aluminum oxide) often is formed around the points where the heaviest action is taking place and heat accelerates the process."

It makes sense that heat would accelerate this reaction. The flue should be the hottest portion of the assembly. Most reports are of pinhole leaks in the tank body, not the flue.

Atwood states:

"The interior of the tank consists of a 15% thickness of type 7072 aluminum (pure aluminum and zinc) that is fused to the core during the rolling process."

Now I do not know what they mean by the "rolling process". Is is creating a laminated flat stock, or the forming of the tank body? If it is the latter, are they pouring the molten alloy into the tank to yield a bonded coating? If we speculate (a dangerous thing to do) that this is the case, could their protective alloy coating be thinner in some places, and on some tanks? Could this be why some tanks last 30 years+, and others only 3 years?

I had a pinhole leak, that I presumed meant the tank was toast, and soon to fail in other locations. I fixed it with epoxy, and the tank lasted another 6 years of full-time use. Go figure.
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Old 02-07-2016, 07:19 PM   #22
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It's not what it says in the owner's manual that matters, it's the alignment of elements in periodic table.

As predicted in the periodic table, magnesium (the sacrificial anode) corrodes at a faster rate than aluminum; where water chemistry, heat, pressure, and pH are all contributing factors of corrosion.

And if the aluminum tank is the anode as Atwood claims (in their manual), it'll be the aluminum that undergoes corrosion at a far greater rate than an aluminum tank with an anode installed.

In a different example, auto makers now recommend less frequent oil change than they did years ago. 90 days or 3,000 miles has become 4,500 miles or more (with the advent of blended and synthetic oil). At the same time, they also significantly reduced the size of oil filters. In a further example, 2000 Chevy Cavaliers boasted maintenance-free automatic transmissions!! Their incentive?? The big auto makers are in business to sell cars. And similarly, Atwood is in business to sell water heaters. Right or wrong, Atwood's stance is not only a selling point, but it's corporate policy. Employees hafta wholeheartedly agree with it, or else!!

If nothing else, an anode is cheap insurance. But the real test is to examine the corrosion of your anode after six months. After it's dried out, "dust it off" with a wire wheel on your bench grinder. That's when corrosion of the anode really becomes apparent.

Tom
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