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Old 04-20-2019, 01:54 PM   #1
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1999 30' Excella 1000
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water heater removal, '99. 31' Excella

The plumbing lines at the base of the heater inside have been chewed by a critter.

To access the lines, the heater needs to be removed.
The heater does not remove from the outside due to the insulation around the heater.
This is a split bath model.
It seems the only way to access the plumbing is to remove the cabinet and then the hot water heater.
Could a potable water caulk or sealant be applied to the chewed areas? So that the tank doesn't need to be removed. Which sealant/tape/caulk to use?
The service tech cut the plumbing.




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Old 04-20-2019, 02:20 PM   #2
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1994 34' Excella
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The heater is installed from the outside, and must be removed from the outside. You will likely destroy the foam when you remove the heater, but is available at an RV dealer. Probably is a good time to service the heater when you have it out. Not an easy job, but do able. There is a "You tube" video on removal that is very informative.
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Old 04-20-2019, 03:17 PM   #3
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Is there a link for the YouTube video? I could not find a video of an Airstream hot water tank removal.

Accessing the insulation from the inside to cut it doesn't look easy.
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Old 04-20-2019, 03:42 PM   #4
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It is generic removal. Actually shows a motor home, but is same procedure as an Airstream. Been there, done that!!
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Old 04-20-2019, 05:50 PM   #5
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I have taken the WH out of a couple of 1988 model trailers in which it was under the bed instead of in a cabinet. They removed from the outside. I got them out and 1 of them back in without an awful lot of damage to the foam. I replaced the other one and the replacement had foam. On the new one I installed the foam was in 2 pieces held together with a strap and could be removed. Had to pull the gas line out through an access hole first.

I guess the service tech thought the damage was great enough to need to replace the lines? Why is he not finishing the job after cutting the lines? Where is the damage to the lines? Do the lines leak now? I mean, before he cut them.

I do not know of anything you could wrap a PEX pipe with to fix a leak through the tubing. Plus that would take more room that replacing the pipe. Taking the WH out would seem to be the best option if that gets you to all of the damaged pipe.
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Old 04-20-2019, 06:33 PM   #6
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The water heater was pushed and pulled by the mobile RV service tech, and it didn't budge. The area below the water heater is too tight to access the plumbing.

The white pipes have chew marks on them.

The water is leaking from below the heater.
After I connected the water hose, turned on the water, went inside, and heard water noise, and saw water spewing by the water heater, I shut off the water.

The water pump is also not working, I assume because of the leak.

I've tried to add more pictures, but they will not add to my post.
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Old 04-20-2019, 06:41 PM   #7
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By the looks of the picture the sealant/caulking behind the flange on the outside has not been cut to release it. Look at the video on the You Tube and you will see the flange bent forward after the sealant has been cut with a utility knife or putty knife. I hope you didn't pay the "tech" any money, because he or she obviously know nothing about hot water tank replacement. If you don't want to do the replacement yourself, find a reputable RV dealer to have the work done.
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Old 04-20-2019, 08:32 PM   #8
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Easy step by step

1. Turn off the power, both 120v and 12v.
2. Disconnect water source
3. Turn both propane valves off at the tank. Light a stove burner and let it burn till it goes out.
3. Remove the electric box cover then disconnect the three wires from the 120v Romex cable. (the white wire at the blue connector beside the switch) Slide the Romex out of the connector. Put a wire nut on the black wire just in case anyone turns the power on.
4. Disconnect the 12v wires black (+) and white or green (-) Put a wire nut on the black just in case someone turns the power on.
5. Disconnect both hot and cold water lines where they connect to the water heater.
6. Loosen the brass nut where the propane pipe connects to the water heater.
7. Remove the putty that seals around the copper propane pipe. From beneath the trailer you also will have to remove the putty where the copper pipe penetrates the belly pan and remove the clamp that will be near that penetration. This will allow the copper some flexibility.
8. With your finger push the copper through the water heater cowl and down to the level of the plywood floor. Depending on how your pipe is installed you might have to leave the pipe as it is and work it through the cowl as you remove the water heater (step 12 below)
9. Remove the door then remove the screws from the perimeter flange.
10. CAREFULLY cut the caulk around the perimeter of the flange. I used a utility knife, but any very sharp edge will do.
11. Push a putty knife in between the flange and the trailer skin , everywhere all the way around the perimeter. The adhesive caulk should only be at the perimeter that you can see. The butyl caulk tape behind the flange should release easily.
12. Once the flange is loose, gently lift while pulling aggressively outward. The foam cover should come out through the existing opening. There should be a block of wood beneath the water heater that will allow the water heater to slide out without dragging the bottom.

First time I did this it took me a few hours. I can do it a lot quicker now.
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Old 04-20-2019, 10:24 PM   #9
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You need a more knowledgeable RV tech.
If he/she can't remove the water heater. Not much good.
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Old 04-21-2019, 07:58 AM   #10
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Informative list. Thank you.
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Old 04-21-2019, 12:33 PM   #11
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You could put a PEX plug in those cut lines and check to see if there are leaks elsewhere and also let you use the trailer without the WH while it is removed if there are no other leaks. Could it be the WH itself leaking?. Or is your trailer new enough to have shutoff valves for the WH?. A decent mobile service tech could do the repair in about half a days time, I would think. Maybe less. But you do need to find all the leaks or damaged areas.
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Old 04-21-2019, 06:33 PM   #12
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There are several pipes chewed enough to cause leaks. Some areas are beyond the heater shutoff valves.
The repair person says they cannot fit their hand in front of the heater to reach down and repair the pipes. And he could not get the heater pulled out. I've got the YouTube link and the helpful list above to assist him on his next visit.
I would prefer the heater not being pulled out. But from the chew marks I've seen, it does seem like it would be better to have a good view of any additional chewed areas by taking the heater out.

I think the only way I could post more pictures that I have would be to start another thread.
The chewing was done by a chipmunk. The droppings were larger than a mouse's droppings! The chipmunk made it back outside at some point. And I moved the trailer. I didn't see it, but an abundance of chipmunks on the Oregon coast this past winter! One of the reasons that I didn't want to work on this project. I did spray the area with a bleach solution.
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Old 04-22-2019, 12:22 PM   #13
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Yes, a chipmunk makes sense. Hopefully his access was limited to that compartment. I see the teeth marks on the red pipe.

The biggest problem with removing the WH is dealing with the caulking. You really have to cut the old caulking all the way around, clean it all off after removing the WH, and re caulk with a correct sealant when re installing. Since I have done 2 WH's now I think it will go well. A. W.'s detailed instruction list seems to be right on. The trailer is made for the WH to be serviced that way.

Since there is a bunch of PEX showing under the WH you probably do need to take WH out. You might need to remove the sink and top and take the cabinet front out also.
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Old 04-30-2019, 10:06 PM   #14
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Water heater removed.
Almost every section of plumbing has chew marks.
One pipe that is still leaking is behind the refrigerator.

The plumbing was chewed on the opposite side from the wh. In the water pump area.
The black tank flush lines were chewed.
The hot water heater was difficult to remove because it had a second silicone seal beyond the butyl tape.
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