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Old 07-31-2018, 10:45 PM   #1
4 Rivet Member
2007 23' Safari SE
Annandale , New Jersey
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 444
Atwood Heater Leak ?

Posted the below post on a thread in what was probably the wrong area (or my post is just too long )

If anyone can provide guidance, would appreciate it.
(update to below, I tried again this evening and the burner lit, but it wasnt right, fluttered often. Assume that could be the burner tube adjustment, but doesnt explain the leak.

A few months ago I replaced both of my 11 yo propane tanks and while I was at it, i also replaced the pigtails and regulator.
When that was done, I used some soapy water and my wife joined with her very good nose to check and all seemed good.
A few weeks ago we took our first trip for 4 days and while sitting out in the afternoon my wife announced she smelled propane. We were sitting towards the mid back of our 23 Safari/D with the water heater a few feet away. We had full hook-up at the campground and showers around the corner, so I shut down the tanks.... but had never fired up the water heater.
After getting home, I parked the AS in the driveway, turned on the propane, filled the gas lines using the stove and went to start the water heater (tank is full of water). The burner ignited for 3 seconds and shut down. Tried a few times and all attempts had the same result.
I read on here that a flame igniting for a brief few seconds and shutting down is usually due to a thermocouple not being in the flame, so I checked for the brief seconds and it appears to be in the flame.

I had forgotten to shut off the tank after that last check and a week or so later my wife walked by the back of the AS and said "I smelled propane again", so that night I went out and shut the tank off.

This afternoon I went to try it again and plan was to put some soap on the propane fitting leading to the burner to see if that was leaking. I opened the propane cover to turn the propane on and the new tank that was filled a month ago and barely used, is now empty (regulator is red).

I opened the other tank (even though it is an auto change regulator, I sometimes - and luckily this time, had turned the other full tank off, so it was full). I went back and painted some soapy solution on the fitting and could not find a leak.

Could it be a bad valve in the burner? Is that something I can take apart and clean? Would a bad valve allow a leak, but not enable full ignition?
I looked at replacing the whole burner assembly, but its about half the cost of a new water heater and at 11 years old, thinking I should just replace the whole thing. Unless I can fix it. Already have a number of things on the to do list, like installing my Easy Start and several other things, so would prefer fixing vs what would probably be a whole day of replacing the heater.

Thoughts appreciated.

Another update to above, in doing some checking today, I found the water heater gas valve at Amazon for $71.

Best price I could find for a new tank (propane with electric ignition) is $350.
Fred L is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-2018, 03:12 PM   #2
4 Rivet Member
2007 23' Safari SE
Annandale , New Jersey
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 444
Just wanted to circle back and let anyone interested, who may check this in the future know that I decided to dive in on my own and rebuild most of the water heater, with what ever replaceable parts I could (except the control board) and the heater works great, leak is gone.

Purchased a leak detector and plugged into the propane system via the stove, after checking the water column (12), shut off the propane tank and the dial dropped like a rock, which explains the empty propane tank. I have to assume that the gas control switch in the water heater gas control was stuck in the open position.

Anyway, I pulled the water heater burner assembly, soaked the bracket and burner in white vinegar, then removed all the rust and corrosion with a brass brush in my drill.
Sanded lightly, wiped with alcohol and painted both with the Rustoleum high heat primer paint (2000 F) and it worked out great. Purchased a gas control valve and solenoid assembly ($70 Amazon) and installed that along with a new thermocouple. Also replaced the ECO and thermostat as well as the fuse.
Fired it up, adjusted the air gas mix with burner (I now know why some heaters sound like a jet engine...) and all works like new.
Fred L is offline   Reply With Quote

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