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Old 04-19-2015, 08:27 AM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1994 34' Limited
Round Rock , Texas
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 47
New to me RV - Multiple issues

Hi, new to the Airstream life. Just bought a '94 Limited that appears to have been sitting longer than advertised. Hoping the smart folks here can help me with next steps. Thanks in advance.

Atwood hot water heater: Electronic ignition. When i flip the switch nothing happens. Red light comes on after about 15-20 seconds, and stays on after that. Water is in the tank, and the board looks fairly new. Unit is moderately rusted. Im thinking of replacing.

Furnace: Can't figure out how to get the unit to come on. No signal at the thermostat. Any ideas?

Stove works, so I'm assuming the gas is working. The tanks look like they need new OPV even though they were inspected in 2014.

AC: Front unit blows at 50, rear unit closer to 60. Is this normal?

Dump valves: How bad a job is this? Unfortunately, it looks like the unit was stored with tanks partially full, so I am also trying to clean them out as well.
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Old 04-19-2015, 09:47 AM   #2
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1972 31' Sovereign
Lexington , Minnesota
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 3,785
Water heater: Is it sparking and trying to light? You probably need to be looking at the burner area while someone turns it on. The red light indicates that it tried to light, but was unsuccessful. If it's sparking, then it's not getting propane. Most likely culprit is spiders have built a nest in the burner area. A good cleaning might cure that problem.

Furnace: Check for 12 volts DC at the furnace. Might be a blown fuse. Moving the thermostat up high enough should cause it to kick in. First the fan will turn on, and then the burner will light.

Propane Tanks: Not all state require OPD valves, so they may not have them. However, if you try to fill them in a state that requires OPD valves, then you'll be stuck.

AC: I'm not an expert on those, but I would think 60 degrees is not cool enough. But, it depends on the outside temperature too. I would expect both to blow out the same temp.

Dump Valves: Not sure what you're asking here. Do they leak? Depending on how long it's been stored, the tank contents may have decomposed to complete liquid already. If not, it'll be a sticky job to drain the tanks unless you go to a dump station. Dumping into a bucket can be done (I've done it), but it typically takes quite a few bucket loads to empty the back tank. If you are going by the sensor readings that the tanks are partially full, that may not be true. The sensors are notorious for getting dirty and giving faulty readings. It might just be a matter of cleaning them with a partial fill of water and cleaner or ice and driving the rig around a little.

Good luck!
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Old 04-19-2015, 10:03 AM   #3
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Could it be that it's too warm for the furnace to turn on?

I am guessing that you added lots of water to the waste tank to loosen the caked on effluent. Ridex ( an enzyme treatment for pipes and septic tanks ) might speed up the process, and a good second step to clean valve seals, and to get the tank really clean.

I would have suggested a few gallons of vinegar to clean the tank but I would worry about it deteriorating the valve seals. ( not sure )

A spray nozzle on a hose would help ( wear disposable latex gloves )
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Old 04-19-2015, 10:46 AM   #4
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2000 30' Excella
Toledo , Ohio
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 489
is the gas valve turned on to the furnace ?
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Old 04-19-2015, 06:25 PM   #5
2 Rivet Member
1994 34' Limited
Round Rock , Texas
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 47
UPDATE: I got the furnace working. Looks like someone tried to do work on it and didnt reattach all the wires. got everything plugged in and it worked as well as i wanted it to on a 90 degree afternoon.

The water heater is still another story. Its not covered in anything but rust. When I hit the switch it does nothing. All the wires are connected. The light just comes on and stays on. No clicking, no fuel smell. I don't see a shutoff specific to the hot water heater, so I'm at a loss. Thinking the unit may just be dead?

The gray water dump valve does leak. It looks like its original to the TT. I have a dump location in my yard, and have been spending time trying to clean an deodorize them. May try the Ridex to break down the solids in the black tank. I also have the factory tank cleaning system, but think its not enough pressure for whats caked on.

AC seemed ok today. It was 90+ today and they cooled the trailer into the 70s. Should work till they die.

Thanks for all the guidance so far. Looking forward to other ideas on water heater.
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Old 04-19-2015, 07:35 PM   #6
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1966 22' Safari
Hilltop Lakes , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,681
RV supply places sell a nozzle for a garden hose that's designed to clean black tanks. It's a couple of feet long, or maybe a little less, and has a 90 degree end. Find a way to hold the flush valve open, stick this thing down the toilet, turn on the water. Rotate slowly so the stream of water hits all parts of the tank. Ours puts out a pretty forceful stream of water and does a good job.

That's what we do with a trailer that's too old to have the on-board tank cleaning system installed.

Best of luck!
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Old 04-19-2015, 07:48 PM   #7
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2008 25' Safari FB SE
Grand Junction , Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 12,141
Check the contacts on the water heater electrical connections. They get some corrosion on them and then the thing won't light. Clean with WD-40 or some sandpaper (gently) or better, both. The board may have a hairline crack that is difficult to see, but enough to open a circuit—examine with a magnifyer and a strong light..

When I've checked AC temps they are usually in the mid-50's or maybe upper 40's. If higher, you may have lost some coolant, the compressor could be a geriatric case, or other symptoms of old age. Use them until they fail completely.

Glad to hear the furnace is working.


The Airstream is sold; a 2016 Nash 24M replaced it.
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Old 04-20-2015, 07:17 AM   #8
retired USA/USAF
2001 30' Excella
Somerset , New Jersey
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 2,414
Camping world sells a device called " Flush King". It is nothing more than a gate valve that attaches to your discharge and has a hose fitting. It allows you to close the gate and backfull your waste tanks quickly to aid in a strong flush. Doesn't do any more than your built in tank flush BUT does it much quicker. I use the tank flush often and the flush king a few times / year and always try to use it at the end of the season. Some good flushes just might cure your leaking valve too if something is caught in the gate.

On the water heater: Mine usually will take many start attempts after having been shut off for awhile or after having removed the propane tanks for filling. Eventually it always will start and is fine after that so you just might just need to be persistent to evacuate all the air from the lines.

Other than being a nasty job I think, from what I've read here on the forum, that access is the biggest problem replacing the dump valves. Getting a super good flush would be my first and greatest effort. Check down below you might already have a removable access panel. Or else you need to cut and make one.
Roger in NJ

" Democracy is the worst form of government. Except for all the rest"
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Old 04-20-2015, 08:04 AM   #9
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Obrien , Florida
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A properly working A/C unit should give between 15 - 20 degree difference input vs. output... So, if it's 90 in the trailer, it should be blowing @ 70. If it's 70, then output air should be @ 50... That should work all the way down to about 60 in the camper, as an R-22 system bottoms out at about 40 degrees output temp...

If you aren't seeing these temps, the capacity of you A/C unit is reduced for some reason.

-Red, sharing the secrets...

Sent from my iPhone using Airstream Forums
Somebody ought to clean these windows. There is a tremendous buildup of gook all over them...
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Old 04-20-2015, 10:33 AM   #10
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1996 25' Excella
Tillsonburg , Ontario
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 1,204
I was going to say the cold air should be 50 -60 F...but Panama Red is right the output will depend on the outside temp.

My water heater in the '96 sometimes wont spark. I traced it to poor connections on the plug coming off the board and AS also says check for a good ground which was one of my problems. Try removing and cleaning every wire connection, including the spark plug and sensor.
Try all this before going for a new board. They run about $85 I think
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Old 04-20-2015, 05:08 PM   #11
2 Rivet Member
1994 34' Limited
Round Rock , Texas
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 47
Thanks all for the input. It sounds like my ohm meter, some sand paper and I will be spending some time on the water heater next weekend (on a business trip this week). The board looks like a fairly recent replacement, which leads me to believe it was working at some point recently.

The AC was blowing at least 20+ degrees cooler than the outside temperature. Sounds like this is the same type of efficiency as my boats AC. It will only take out so much heat from the outside air. Hopefully, it will be able to keep up with our 100 degree summers.
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