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Old 06-05-2005, 08:20 PM   #1
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Problem with Water Heater

I also posted this on the Airstream.com forums -- I need as much advice as I can get...Thanks!

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We took our new AS 19' Bambi out this weekend to get used to how everything functions before a long trip next weekend. Once we were all set up on Friday, we discovered that the hot water heater ignitor switch was not turning off, like it should after the water heater burner ignites.

All day on Saturday, we tinkered with it and discovered that it was firing to light the pilot, followed with what we think was the burner lighting (a pretty big POOF! sound) and then the burner would extinguish.

This would repeat 2 more times (for a total of 3 tries) and then it would give up. We could never get the burner to stay lit.

We also discovered that we are missing the manual for the water heater -- we have one for all other appliances. The AS manual has minimal information on how it works. We did discover that it's an electronic ignition model made by Atwood, it looks pretty standard (we saw the same model for sale in the Camping World catalog)

We took cold showers (not fun) and make it whrough the weekend.

How do we proceed with getting this fixed? Can we just go to an Atwood service center or do we have to go to an AS dealer to get this fixed?

There's an Atwood service center right near our house (15 minutes), whereas the nearest AS dealer is 45 minutes away.

We think the cause is that the gas pressure may be too strong and it's extinguishing the flame, seems as though this is an adjustment type repair vs. something really serious. We don't want to mess with it ourselves since we think an adjustment of the gas output (in the incorrect direction) may cause an explosion.

Advice?

Desidou

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Old 06-05-2005, 08:24 PM   #2
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Typically for something like this, I'd be happy to take it to an Atwood Service location. The installed parts are covered by both the Airstream warranty and particularly in this case also by Atwood. Given that Atwood water heaters are in hundreds of other brands (including Airstream) I'd feel very comfy letting them deal with it as there are no real Airstream only issue type things.....
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Old 06-05-2005, 08:48 PM   #3
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Taking it to the Atwood service center was what I thought our best bet was.

I guess I'm just a bit on edge since this is a brand new trailer, we picked it up from the dealer last weekend. It worked the first night we camped in it -- last Friday night. Now it's not working.

Just has me a bit worried...
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Old 06-05-2005, 09:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by desidou
This would repeat 2 more times (for a total of 3 tries) and then it would give up....

"ANS: Both the electronic spark ignitors on the refer & the water heater will only try 3 times to light & then stop, a safety feature."

How do we proceed with getting this fixed? Can we just go to an Atwood service center or do we have to go to an AS dealer to get this fixed?

There's an Atwood service center right near our house (15 minutes), whereas the nearest AS dealer is 45 minutes away.

Advice?
The closest place will work, be sure to call A/S & get auth. P.O. # if not at an A/S cert. repair center. They've been very good to me about this.
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Old 06-05-2005, 11:59 PM   #5
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hi desidou

taking cold showers? bummer! i guess you were boon docking and didn't have access to electricity to heat the water? does your stove and furnace work properly? have you recently filled/changed the lp tanks?

i had a problem similar to your description that resolved, once all of the air was out of the gas line to the water heater....took me about 4-5 "retrys" before the heater fired with gas correctly. same thing happened last week when i refilled and hooked up a fresh tank o'lp.

i'd suggest calling the dealer service dept at the very least, before heading to the atwood place. some as dealers are so new or swamped that'd they likely prefer an owner go to the appliance service center if one is available.

good luck and let us know what you discover.

cheers

2air'
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Old 06-06-2005, 12:55 AM   #6
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Hi Desidou, FYI, my water heater manual was taped to the top of my water heater. Might check there. The PO's never found it in 40yrs. The mice had gotten to it by the time I found it. Oh well.

PS - My WH did the same thing as yours. It took an ajustment of the gas/air mixture to fix it. If you are not comfortible with doing that. It's best to take it to a service center.
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Old 06-06-2005, 05:15 AM   #7
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Good luck with getting this problem resolved.

I can't offer you any help or suggestions with that specific problem, but I thought I'd add my own recent "learning" experience regarding flushing water heaters.

About 1 time every month while we're using our trailer, I remove the drain plug on the water heater and flush out all the calcified salts, etc that build up and collect in it - something that I think is recommended in the Atwood owners manual.

Last week I bought one of those inexpensive water heater tank cleaning wands from Camping World, and was literally amazed at how much more salts it flushed out. It was almost unbelievable how much came out from the bottom of my water tank, and this was after I had flushed it out by just running water through it.

There's no now doubt in my mind that periodic flusing and cleaning will improve the water heater's performance and increase the tank's longevity.

John
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Old 06-06-2005, 07:02 AM   #8
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From lighting problems to cold showers to crud on the bottom now a cost savings tip. We use ours almost as a on demand heater. We turn it on when we get up in the AM and few minutes later the water is hot. We turn it off during the day after the morning dishes but on again when we are cooking lunch, off after lunch dishes and on again when cooking dinner. and off again after the dinner dishes for the night. The water never really gets cold and recovers so quickly we always have hot water but do not keep cycling the heater on when we do not need it.
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Old 06-06-2005, 07:23 AM   #9
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If you go to an Atwood service center, the coach is clearly new, the unit would be covered under the warranty of the manufac of the device...you would not need any authorization from Airstream or any PO#. On our Bambi we had issues with our Atwood furnace, I talked to a local Atwood service center and all I had to provide was a document as to when the unit was purchased and the Atwood warranty would have covered it....but then we got upgradeitus and traded the Bambi for the Safari and we never got the unit repaired...the trading dealer repaired the issues long after we were gone.
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Old 06-06-2005, 09:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman
hi desidou

taking cold showers? bummer! i guess you were boon docking and didn't have access to electricity to heat the water? does your stove and furnace work properly? have you recently filled/changed the lp tanks?

i had a problem similar to your description that resolved, once all of the air was out of the gas line to the water heater....took me about 4-5 "retrys" before the heater fired with gas correctly. same thing happened last week when i refilled and hooked up a fresh tank o'lp.

i'd suggest calling the dealer service dept at the very least, before heading to the atwood place. some as dealers are so new or swamped that'd they likely prefer an owner go to the appliance service center if one is available.

good luck and let us know what you discover.

cheers

2air'
2-air'

Silly question -- we don't know if the water heater works on electricity. I think the model we have only works on LP with an electric ignition. Is this standard for new AS's?

I've seen devices such as the HOTT Rod that you install in your Water heater tank. We don't have one of those yet (just picked it up last weekend) and we're afraid that this is something we can't install ourselves. I didn't think our water heater ran on electricity as an option.

No, we hadn't replaced the LP tanks, all we did was turn them off when we stored the unit the previous week. That was the first time we turned off the tanks since we'd purchased it.

Any ideas?

Desidou
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Old 06-06-2005, 09:45 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C Johnson
Hi Desidou, FYI, my water heater manual was taped to the top of my water heater. Might check there. The PO's never found it in 40yrs. The mice had gotten to it by the time I found it. Oh well.

PS - My WH did the same thing as yours. It took an ajustment of the gas/air mixture to fix it. If you are not comfortible with doing that. It's best to take it to a service center.
We checked all around the WH and didn't see any info. Called Atwood this AM and requested that they send us one. Haven't heard back from them yet. Hopefully we can get one to put with the rest of our manuals.

How do you adjust the gas/air mixture? There is something than can be adjusted w/ an allen wrench, but we're afraid that if we adjust the valve the wrong way, we could blow the thing up.

We do think that the force of the gas may be blowing out the flame since the POOF noise is so loud and forceful, so that may fix it, but not sure how (or which way) to adjust.
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Old 06-06-2005, 12:01 PM   #12
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You may just have some air in the LP line. The electronic ignition module will only try 3 times before it goes into lockout.

Then you have to cycle it off and back on. The poof you are hearing is possibly the lean fuel to air mixture igniting. It tends to make a Poof when I first start mine too.

The water heater on the Bambi is at the end of the line for propane so any air in the lines has a way to travel. The LP system is a positive pressure gas system but it is at a 4-5 PSI pressure so the amount of air in the line could be large.

How many times did you try it before giving up?

Did you try any other gas appliances?

Did they work?

The air shutter adjustment requires a screwdriver. It is the slotted tube before the burner inlet. You can loosen the screw, slide the tube and the heater should light. but it may be sooty until you adjust it correctly.
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Old 06-06-2005, 12:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
How many times did you try it before giving up?

Did you try any other gas appliances?

Did they work?
We tried all through the day on Saturday and then a few times on Sunday morning -- I'd say at least 50 times. I'm just a little persistent, don't you think?!

Yes, we cooked on the gas stove all day Saturday and Sunday (even Friday night)....all worked as expected. We also ran the fridge on LP all day Friday while it was sitting in front of our house, waiting to go camping that evening.

Again, we did turn off the gas (LP tank) when we stored it just after picking it up from the dealership in Tampa. We picked it up on Friday, stayed in it Friday night and stored it on Sunday. When we put it in storage, we closed the LP tanks. We opened the valves on the tanks again last Thursday when we picked it up for the weekend.

I don't know if air is the culprit or what is causing the issue. I don't think it's anything massive since it's trying to fire, it's probably just an adjustment, just like you said.

It does try to fire 3 times before giving up. Your assumption on that detail was correct.

I just hope we can get this resolved before we take it out next weekend -- not looking forward to cold showers again!
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Old 06-06-2005, 01:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by desidou

I just hope we can get this resolved before we take it out next weekend -- not looking forward to cold showers again!
I know what you mean, though our water heater was working correctly, I forgot to turn off the bypass so it would get warm, hot, then comfy, then, ice cold.....puzzled me for several trips until one day when I realized what a goof I was....
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