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Old 09-14-2019, 01:03 PM   #1
greenville , thomassherard
Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 19
Hot Water Heater on Battery

I have a 2018 27FB. This is our first time boondocking. We're having trouble with the hot water heater. It acts like it is trying to ignite but nothing. It was working fine the last time we were hooked to power. Battery seems to be fine and fuses seem good. Any ideas?

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Old 09-14-2019, 01:10 PM   #2
Rivet Master
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Sag Harbor , New York
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Welcome to the forum!

I assume you are trying to run the "water heater" on propane? ["trying to ignite"] Do your other propane-fired appliances work, like the cook top burners, and fridge?

If so, the propane line to the water heater could be crimped or damaged in some way. Another option would be that the water heater's control/circuit board is defective.
2018 search term added:

What brand is your heater, Atwood maybe? Seems like 2018 was not a good year for water heater control boards. If all of your propane-fired appliances are not working, you might have a bad regulator at the tanks:

If you could provide more details, folks will be able to give better advice IMO.

Good luck,


PS -- What is your battery voltage reading on the monitor panel? If it is below 12.1 volts +/- your water heater may not want to light, due to low voltage IMO. Are all your other 12-volt functions working OK?
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Old 09-14-2019, 01:24 PM   #3
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Apollo Beach , Florida
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The first thing I would do is light my propane stove to make sure there is no air in the line. Does the stove work properly? If the stove works, and the water heater still won't light, then I would start looking inside the water heater outside panel for loose wires. A loose wire on my controller board made my water heater not work on electric or propane. I reconnected the wire and all worked fine.

Start with the simple things. Is there propane? Is there a loose wire? And then move up to more difficult possibilities, like control boards, if the simple things don't fix it. Since its trying to light, I think its a propane problem and not a board problem.
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Old 09-15-2019, 06:09 AM   #4
greenville , thomassherard
Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 19
Thanks for the responses. All other propane appliances are working. I can spell propane at the water heater. Sounds like igniter is trying to work. Battery is at 11.8.. I’ve looked at wires etc around the panel. I’m thinking it’s a battery issue at this point. We’ll be hooking back up to shore power tonight. I’ll keep you posted.
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Old 09-15-2019, 06:39 AM   #5
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You've run your battery down below the advisable state of charge so first step should be to get it charged.-- Frank
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Old 09-15-2019, 09:10 AM   #6
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The battery normally should read above 12.1V at all times. We are headed into the colder part of the year, you may want to bump that number up a bit. The magic number is about 12.6V rather than 12.1 if it's in the 30's (F) out. Since the stock monitors can be a bit off (and you have voltage drops) a DVM at the posts of the battery is the thing to trust.


If you have propane *and* the burner never lights (as opposed to lights and then goes out) first thing to check is for a spark at the igniter.

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Old 09-15-2019, 10:38 AM   #7
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A fully charged FLA - Flooded Lead Acid , battery is 12.75 after rest - rest is some time after fully charged , about a min. 1/2 hr. after charge is removed .
Some AGM , Gel etc. have a higher rested / charged voltage .
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Old 09-15-2019, 10:44 AM   #8
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Check the exhaust pipe

I had a similar problem with my water heater. The cause was a mud dauber nest in the exhaust pipe for the heater.

Symptoms were propane smell near the heater, but no hot water.

Remove the covers and look for dauber nests inside the pipes. The pipes can be removed and cleaned.

We installed a mesh screen over the exhaust, which has worked well.
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Old 09-15-2019, 12:31 PM   #9
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Victoria , British Columbia
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battery is very low and could be your problem. I wouldn't let the battery get below 12v.
Time for the generator hook up I think.
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Old 09-16-2019, 06:35 AM   #10
greenville , thomassherard
Join Date: Aug 2018
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Thanks All. We hooked to shore power yesterday. The electric hot water is working fine.
However when I try to switch to propane, the igniter does not appear to be sparking to light the propane. The electric switch for the hot water is off when I'm trying to use the propane. The 2 amp fuse appears fine. Wire connections appear good. I can smell propane and actually manually lite the tank yesterday but the flame went out after +/- 3 seconds. Thoughts? Thanks
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Old 09-16-2019, 07:24 AM   #11
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What you described before sounded like a battery issue. Maybe something else since it now refuses to ignite while on shore power. Does your stove stay lit when you turn on a burner? Does your fridge work on propane?

Battery advice in case it's helpful: Either your batteries have a problem (use a battery tester to check each cell after fully charging and then letting them rest for an hour), or you are simply overly discharging your batteries. If your battery is testing below 12.1 volts, you are way into the dead zone. Every time this happens, you damage your batteries, so don't do that if there's any way to avoid it.

Things that can help while dry camping:
* Be frugal in your use of power. Anything you turn on shortens your dry camping trip. Don't run anything you don't absolutely have to run. That short list includes the fridge, the water heater (on propane) only when needed, and occasional use of water (e.g. the water pump runs). Beyond that you're camping in extreme luxury and your dry-camping stint will be significantly shortened.
* Adding solar panels and a controller that will actually charge your system. Your dealer has no real understanding of solar, so either DIY or find a place with solar expertise that's done Airstreams before.
* Bigger batteries and/or switching to Lithium (LiFePO4-type) batteries. There are plenty of threads here that discuss bigger battery options. Lithium batteries are expensive, but provide far more power for the weight. Switching to Lithium batteries usually also means switching out your charger, so that's a fairly big shift. We went the bigger battery route, which helped somewhat, before finally upgrading to Lithium.
Good luck and happy camping!
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Old 09-16-2019, 08:24 AM   #12
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I suggest you remove and clean the igniter/flame sensor probes with an abrasive (emery cloth, sand paper or ?), including removing/cleaning the base of the bracket they mount on. Lack of a good electrical connection/ground can cause the unit to not sense the flame, which will shut off the gas after a short while — hence flame goes out. Your symptoms indicate that could be the issue.

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Old 09-19-2019, 06:00 AM   #13
greenville , thomassherard
Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 19
I called AS and they helped confirm it was most likely the circuit board. I then called Dometic. After giving them the serial number and model number they quickly agreed to mail me a new circuit board. As noted in other post there was an issue with the circuit board in 2018 models.
Thanks again for the responses.
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Old 09-19-2019, 06:46 AM   #14
Rivet Master
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Sag Harbor , New York
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Thanks for the update.

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