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Old 11-05-2006, 05:53 PM   #1
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1991 29' Excella
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Water Heater Troubleshooting

I have a gas water heater. When I turn it on, switch in bathroom, it stays on for about 2 -3 min and shuts off. Any suggestions as to what I can check?
charlie g
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Old 11-05-2006, 06:04 PM   #2
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Check out the search feature on the forums. Many ideas here.
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Old 11-05-2006, 06:55 PM   #3
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Charlie,

What brand is it.
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Old 11-05-2006, 08:49 PM   #4
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Charlie, since you are a new poster, I wonder what it is that comes on and then goes off. Of you are saying you can hear it come on for a ful 2-3 minutes, then I would say you probably need a thermister. It also could be that the flu or chimney is stopped up; the gas has incorrect pressure; the gas bottle is empty, etc.

If, however, you are speaking of the red light on the switch, the red light indicates either a failed condition, or the process of attempting to light electrically. When the light goes off, it is lit.
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Old 11-06-2006, 08:20 AM   #5
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I belive it is a Atwood Heater. I do hear it light and the red light goes off. After about 2 - 3 min it goes off and the red light comes on.
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Old 11-06-2006, 06:15 PM   #6
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Charlie, Make SURE, POSITIVE SURE, that you do not have a bypass valve open, thereby causing the hot water to remain in the tank. It works like this. When winterizing, the bypass valve is opened, which keeps any water from going into or out of the hot water heater. Then, when you try to turn it on, it runs just a short time, bringing the temp up in the tank, and then shuts down, yet you get cold water from the hot tap. I have seen this more than once.
I spoke of a thermister last post, however, I really meant your thermocouple. Now,the tip of it is located in the flame, and it tells your gas valve to stay open as there is a flame, and it is safe to stay open. When they go bad, it will not allow the gas flow to continue, and it shuts down. Now, they are fairly expensive (for what they are) if you buy them from an RV supplier. They can be purchased at Home Depot, or other like store, althhough the bracket may be somwhat different, if you are handy, can be made to work for about half the price.
That may not be the problem, however, as I mentioned earlier. It is what I would chase first.
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Have no intention of arriving at the grave safely, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand,throttle in the other, totally worn out and screaming
"WOO HOO, WHAT A RIDE!"
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Old 11-06-2006, 07:04 PM   #7
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I have had the same problem for about two years on my 88 which stays stationary at TCPC Airstream park.

Gentleman told me to run hair dryer on unit for short period, especially heating tube, works every time.

BTW, problem is intermident depending on temp and humidity????????
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Old 11-07-2006, 07:16 AM   #8
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I am at TCPC right now, having my RV port built- come by and say hello if you are here now.
Next, it sounds as if you have a ground that is intermittent, especially since it works if heated (expansion) and weather has an effect.
That is another thing that Charlie might check as well as you. Take the screw out that holds the thermocouple, clean both mounting surfaces., and reinstall the screw. Then, make sure the end of the bulb is in the flame.
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WBCCI #6673 jerry Hodge
Have no intention of arriving at the grave safely, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand,throttle in the other, totally worn out and screaming
"WOO HOO, WHAT A RIDE!"
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Old 10-03-2009, 03:10 AM   #9
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Hello! I have a question about water heater. We have a new 2009, 20 flying cloud. Great rig we've been dreaming to own for many years. Finally we bought one. Everything works great except the heater?! It has electronic ignition switch in the bathroom. All tanks are full. The LP valves are open, all appliances are in good working order, bypass valve closed. And still no hot water?! The water flows normally from the hot side of the faucet . The red light goes on and off three times and when its off I can hear that the spark tries to ignite, but then the light on the electronic switch( in the bathroom) goes on and after that nothing happens it stays on. It seems like the gas from LP Bottles is not getting to the spark. Please help, maybe there is another gas valve somewhere? Or maybe it is a factory defect or something else. I am new to the airstream. Dmitry
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Old 10-03-2009, 07:28 AM   #10
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hope this helps

Dmitry, The light remaining on means the heater did not light, that is the reason for the light. Now, if you hear multiple tries for ignition, indeed the LP is not reaching the burner. Most likely, there is a clog right at the orifice ( a likely cause is spider nests) or even a hidden on/off valve between the gas tanks and the heater. To trouble shoot that, normally i would loosen the LP line right where it connects to the appliance, and use a rich mixture of soap/water to see if it causes bubbles. If not, there is no flow there. I then would button that back up, and depending on if there were bubbles then; no bubbles, go toward the supply tanks, and do the same right after the regulator- if no bubbles, go in front of the regulator, etc till you find bubbles, then through elimination, you find the defective part. IF you had bubbles where it connects to the water heater, then, it will most likely be around the orifice area.
OH, before doing all that, get a grill clicker, and, while the electronic ignitor is trying to work, see if you can make it work with the clicker itself. If so, then the ignitor is out of order.
Just a sequential type troubleshooting process.
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2000 390 Landyacht XL
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WBCCI #6673 jerry Hodge
Have no intention of arriving at the grave safely, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand,throttle in the other, totally worn out and screaming
"WOO HOO, WHAT A RIDE!"
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Old 10-03-2009, 08:09 AM   #11
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I used to have this problem A LOT with our last trailer - not an Airstream, but same make of heater.

If yours is like mine, the ignitor also serves as a probe that sticks into the flame to tell the control whether or not the flame is burning. If it does not sense the flame after so many seconds , then it shuts off the gas supply to avoid potential explosion. When the gas is shut off, your red light will come on.

Most heaters are programmed to try automatically to reignite and verify flame several times - mine was three times. If after three attempts, the probe still does not sense flame, the system goes into "Lockout" mode and you need to switch the heater off then on again if you want to continue trying to light the heater.

I believe that the way the system works is that the probe has a voltage applied, and when it is surrounded by hot ionized gases of combustion, a very slight current = measured in microamps - leaks off the probe. The computer looks for this leakage and that is what confirms existance of the flame.

In my case, the problem always related to corrosion preventing good electrical contact. My trailer was a 1993 model and there was a lot of rust/corrosion in the heater compartment.

Any time I had the non-start problem, I would dismantle the components of the burner/igniter and clean all mechanical connections to bright metal and apply dielectric grease to electrical connectors - this would generally clear things up for some months.

I found that the older my trailer became the more problems of this sort I encountered with all the appliances. Probably part of my problem was the the trailer saw relatively little use during the year and was stored outdoors.

With my newer trailer, I am trying to delay onset of this sort of problem by spraying everything in the water heater compartment with WD-40 from time to time.
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