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Old 08-20-2012, 04:33 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by lewster View Post
Allow me to add a little 'fuel to the fire' so to speak.

If the newer Airstreams use the Atwood XT series of water heaters (10 gallons of hot water from a 6 gallon tank) they do indeed run at about 20* hotter with a special thermostat. This puts the tank water at between 150-160*F, which is far above the recommended faucet temp. of 120*F. To bring the faucet temps down to the non-danger zone, Atwood units employ a mixer valve that lets cold water into the hot water stream to temper the hot water coming directly from the tank.

If you look further into your Atwood manual, you will see a section on 'mixing valve maintenance'. They state that this mixing valve should be cleaned at a recommended interval with , IIRC, vinegar to remove the accumulation of calcium and other minerals from the fresh water supply. From what I have seen, almost no one actually does this and the result is a clogged mixer valve that now must be replaced. You will tell if you have this situation when your water heater still seems to operate properly and the tank gets hot and hot (very hot) water will come out of the relief valve if tripped, but you get no hot water, or increasingly cool to cold water from the faucets. The mixing valve is now allowing the cold water to pass thru, but the hot water chamber has been compromised and is clogged.

Time to replace this very expensive (over $200) valve. I have replaced over 20 to date, mostly on larger motor homes............have fun! YMMV!
Thanks for the info Lew! You are always on top of things!!

WOW!! Really 160 degrees?? No wonder it is causing expansion over pressurization problems. Is the air chamber new for the XT series to compensate where it was really not needed before or just much more critical to maintain now?

Sounds like AS just put the newer XT model in without full consideration/engineering to the increased stress on the system.

Glad I replaced mine already!!!
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Old 08-20-2012, 05:32 PM   #16
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If normal maintenance is cleaning the mixing valve, then why not just keep the valve clean. Have I missed something here? Just put this on your normal mantenance schedule. If I am correct if the valve is kept clean it does not have to be replaced. Jim
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Old 08-20-2012, 06:16 PM   #17
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If normal maintenance is cleaning the mixing valve, then why not just keep the valve clean. Have I missed something here? Just put this on your normal mantenance schedule. If I am correct if the valve is kept clean it does not have to be replaced. Jim
Unfortunately, the 'normal maintenance' is anything but normal.

In order to clean the valve with vinegar you have 2 choices:

1. remove the valve from the water heater, soak in vinegar, rinse, repeat until clean and the re-install......( might not sound like such a big deal, but try a few and get back to me on that one)

2. Drain the water tank, fill with vinegar (yes, all 6 gallons of it), pressurize the tank (how you do it is up to you), run the vinegar thru the hot only faucet
so that all of the vinegar flows exclusively thru the hot side of the mixing valve until the tank is empty, fill and flush several times with fresh water until any trace of vinegar is removed ( unless of course you eat a lot of salads, then leave it and just add oil for a nice, healthy salad dressing )

Take your pick!

OH! I forgot option 3..........

3. Wait for the unit to fail and simply replace the valve................
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Old 08-20-2012, 08:12 PM   #18
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More involved than I thought, thanks. Jim
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Old 08-21-2012, 03:14 PM   #19
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I had been looking at owners manual on line in preparation to pick up our new trailer as well as following this hot water heater thread. Here is quote from the owners manual. It sounds like they are aware of the issue but don't recongize the severity of the problem. Has anyone had this water leak problem when not connected to city water, i.e. using the 12v dc water pump?

Thanks, Rick

If your water system is full and cold and the water heater is ignited the system can see pressures as high as 120 psi before the relief valve starts to open. Since the water system normally operates in the 40-psi range the water expanding does put unusual stress on the system. This normally does not cause any problems, but the stress is easily alleviated. As the water is heating just open any faucet and run as little as a cup of water. Just removing this small amount of water reduces the pressure build up significantly.

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Old 08-21-2012, 05:47 PM   #20
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I had been looking at owners manual on line in preparation to pick up our new trailer as well as following this hot water heater thread. Here is quote from the owners manual. It sounds like they are aware of the issue but don't recongize the severity of the problem. Has anyone had this water leak problem when not connected to city water, i.e. using the 12v dc water pump?

Thanks, Rick

If your water system is full and cold and the water heater is ignited the system can see pressures as high as 120 psi before the relief valve starts to open. Since the water system normally operates in the 40-psi range the water expanding does put unusual stress on the system. This normally does not cause any problems, but the stress is easily alleviated. As the water is heating just open any faucet and run as little as a cup of water. Just removing this small amount of water reduces the pressure build up significantly.

I cannot address the question directly from experience as I only run the pump to winterize. It has been noted that the lines are fairly small and even if pressurized with the pump and there is no air cushion in the hot water tank I would think it would over pressurize the system in just the same manner.

I would like to point out that the referenced statement in the 2012 manual Appliances/Water Heater/Safety is the same statement going back to at least the 2002 Classic Trailer. It does not take into account the new higher temperature Atwood XT water heater currently being used in the new units nor does it reference the requirement to maintain the air cushion in the water heater per the manufactures instructions.

Airstream clearly states that over pressurization from the old lower temperature hot water heater is a potential problem going way back and leaves sole responsibility of preventing damage to the water lines up to the owner instead of installing the separate lower rated pressure relief valve in the cold water line or the expansion tank in the cold water line as recommended by the manufacture of the hot water tank.

Just wondering how many water leaks might have been prevented with a simple $25 pressure relief valve over the years.
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Old 08-21-2012, 06:30 PM   #21
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If this is an acknowledged design flaw by AS, what is their liability ??? Many questions come to mind ... if there is a leak / rupture, what effect does the elevated temperature and pressure of the water now flowing have on the pex? What if the line ruptures while someone is reaching under the sink / access panels and there is an unfortunate burn? We have experienced the sometimes continuous water "leaking" / dripping from the HW pressure relief valve even though I have reduced line pressure by opening the hot water sink valves.
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Old 08-21-2012, 06:34 PM   #22
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Design flaw? That may be arguable given that the instructions talk about it and tell how to avoid a problem. Like telling you to keep your tires properly inflated.

Just sayin'.
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Old 08-21-2012, 07:13 PM   #23
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I agree with Wayne, just follow the instructions. Jim
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:42 AM   #24
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I guess that you missed my point ... I have followed the instructions (air cushion and faucet bleed off) and still have high pressure water leakage / issues! Should there be a rupture to the lines with high temp water blowing out, there exists a bad situation that is NOT pointed out in the instructions! W&S / zig - glad that you agree; do you have the electric / propane combo water heater leakage in your units? If not, you don't share my same concerns. It seems that Collimare has the right approach to this potential hazard for this 160 degree issue. Lew, thank you again for your additional info; as usual, you are spot on.
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:29 AM   #25
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Dumb question

If I were to install a pressure relief valve, why wouldn't I install on the hot water outlet instead of the cold water inlet? What am I missing here?
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:00 AM   #26
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Another option, simpler, to the calcium-clogged mixer valve assessment by Lewster, or the ditch-the-heater solution by Collimare.

We run all our city water (and fill the storage tank) through a portable RV water softener. Virtually eliminates calcium buildup in the entire water system, less soap scum in the shower, and no spots on faucets or in the stainless sinks. Much nicer showers/washups as well.

During our first six month trip with the elect/propane water heater we learned how to use it and and had no further problems. 1) Keep the air space in the water heater (maybe once a month, let the system cool, shut off the supply, open a hot water faucet, push open and drain down the heater pressure relief valve to ensure air is in the top of the tank). 2) Shut off the electric hot water switch (in the bathroom) when going to bed so the very hot water does not reach boiling point and "burp" out the pressure relief valve. If you need a morning shower, leave the propane hot water switch on.

That's all there is to it.

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Old 08-22-2012, 10:13 AM   #27
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Water Heaters Used In 2013 Airstreams

I just got off the phone with Airstream and I did confirm that Airstream is indeed using the Atwood XT Series water heaters in the new Airstreams. I specifically asked about the 2013 models and they use Atwood Water Heater Model#GE9-EXT.

I then called Atwood and spoke with their technical department and was informed of the following:

"Atwood Water Heaters use a mixing valve to reduce the operating temperature to the faucets to right around 135 degrees. The tank already has a pressure relief valve attached to it. It is marked "PT Valve." All water heaters in any boiler type system require a pressure relief valve by law. Also, the tanks are tested at 300 pounds and the valve will relieve any excess pressure just like a home water heater does."

If you're interested, following is a link to the manual and 2-year warranty by Atwood:
http://www.atwoodmobile.com/manuals/...S%204.9.09.pdf

Hope this helps!
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:26 AM   #28
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Yes heater model #GE9-EXT, used in 2012 and 2013 Airstreams.

doug k
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