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Old 10-23-2007, 03:52 PM   #1
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Rivet Water Heater Fix - Try drying the porcelain electrode

Hi everyone. Wanted to share a lesson I learned about my Atwood G6A-8E water heater today. I searched far and wide in the forums before calling out a service tech. I couldn't wait too long for an answer in the forums since I'm a full-timer and need hot water for showers. Hopefully, this helps the next guy. Scroll down for the fix... here's the background.

The problem occurred after a long weekend trip. I left my 2007 27' AS Safari SE FB powered down and the water heater off. That weekend, Florida had A LOT of wind and rain. When I got home, everything fired up fine - except for my water heater.

When I flicked the water heater's electronic pilot light switch, the trouble light lit and stayed on. Normally, it lights up and then goes off as I hear a clicking as the igniter fires up the gas... but no clicking this time... no sound at all. The heater's light remained on. I've left my rig for extended periods of time before and this never happened. I suspected the wind and raid did something to my heater.

I checked the propane tanks. Disconnected them, purged the lines, verified I had gas flowing by lighting my stove. I checked my Atwood manuals, my AS manuals, then check the forums. I did all those troubleshooting steps. Lots of posts about corrosion of connectors, moving a ground wire, wiggling wires, and clearing out spider and wasp nests. As suggested... I cleaned the igniter contacts, I wiggled wires. I checked the electrical paths and fuse with a multimeter. I narrowed it down to the circuit board assembly. I suspected water issues since it rained so much. So I even tried a hair dryer to dry all the contacts. Still nothing.

Well I almost took off the circuit board and took it down the road to have it tested and possibly replaced. Instead I let my warranty work and hired a service tech.

The FIX:
At first, the tech narrowed the problem down to the circuit board. Then he stopped and remembered all the rain we had. He pulled out a cigarette lighter. He warmed up the porcelain insulator that connected the circuit board to the electrodes. He explained the porcelain can absorb moisture creating electrical resistance that the circuit board senses as fire, which prevents the electrodes from sparking (you don't need a spark if you've already got a fire . He dried the porcelain out with a cigarette lighter for about a minute. And voila, we flipped the switch and the familar clicking of the electrodes cracked to life and lit the fire. Aaaahh... hot water.

Can't say this will fix every moisture issue. But since my unit was new, I didn't have corrosion issues. It had to be related to water. Florida does have a lot of humidity and rain. Now I'm thinking of ways to block the vent from rain while keeping the air flowing. Anyone have any ideas?

I wrote this using as many key words for this problem as I could think of. My apologies for it being so wordy. Hope it helped somebody out there.

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Old 10-23-2007, 03:59 PM   #2
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Great post on the problem and solution. I'll add this one to my "try this" list.

Karma to you..

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