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Old 12-12-2016, 10:50 AM   #1
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
La Quinta , California
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34.5 water heater

A question about the operation of water heater. If I turn the rocker switch to on the water heater does not ignite all the time. Sometimes I have to push the rocker two or three times to get it to ignite. When it does ignite it heats to the proper temp and shuts down. When it calls for heat again it does not come on. Have to reset the rocker two or three times to ignite. The question is it the igniter or one of the sensors? The second part of the question is what brand of water heater did they use in an 1987 34.5. I can't find anything on the unit itself other than the numbers on the igniter. Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Brock
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Old 12-13-2016, 01:20 AM   #2
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Currently you can get suburban or Atwood water heaters for RVs.

It sounds like yours is an automatic pilot setup. The switch activates a control module with an integrated emergency cutoff. This is connected to a "one try board" which places the control module in stand by after one unsuccessful attempt. The way to reset this is by turning off your water heater and back on. From the sounds of it, you're going into standby intermittently. However there are some things you can do.

1. Have you considered removing the switch, labeling connections (assuming blade connections and not soldered, inspecting, disassembling, cleaning, reassembling and testing the switch? (This ensures your switch is not the culprit, but from your description, I would be suprised if this solves it, just eliminating possibilities.)

2. Verify your intake and exhaust tubes are free of debris/ mud dauber nests.

3. The manufacturer data plate and model number is inside your water heater. At the exterior panel, open the panel, look at the right side of the heater on the 1-2" inset wall. Please share this.

4. Use information from data plate to find control module part number, and troubleshooting guide. Troubleshoot with multimeter.

5. Assess if repair costs outweigh unit replacement costs.
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Old 12-16-2016, 06:34 PM   #3
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bbabich... did that help at all?
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Old 12-16-2016, 10:01 PM   #4
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Nick.....you covered all the bases on that one, Regards,Bob
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Old 12-16-2016, 10:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vycan View Post

2. Verify your intake and exhaust tubes are free of debris/ mud dauber nests.
Definitely start with this suggestion and work your way up the expensive scale; but I think cleaning, adjusting the intake and cleaning the igniter will do the trick.

Cheers
Tony
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Old 12-17-2016, 09:32 AM   #6
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Thank you. Yes that helped. My rig is about seventy miles away from me so took some time to get there. I did all the simple stuff, cleaned conection, blew out tubes etc. All looked good. Still same problem but did figure out it only attempts to light once. Adjusted ignitor gap and made sure its not grounding. Still the same. Usually takes two or three tries to fire off when calling for heat. Starting to think maybe gas valve not opening fast enough to catch ignitors one click. In all my running around i forgot to get the numbers off heater. Will get them next time.
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Old 12-17-2016, 12:42 PM   #7
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My water heater did the same for years. I would fight it until I was ready to give up and buy a new one and it would miraculously start working. Months would go by with no problems and then it would start acting up. I went through this cycle many times until I finally gave up in Alaska. I bought a new heater with the 120v AC element built in and all is great. I should have saved the frustration and bought the new one several years ago but I was just to frugal to give up on the old heater. And yes I highly recommend the 120v AC add on.
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Old 12-17-2016, 01:14 PM   #8
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
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Thanks for the input. How did you wire the 120? I believe mine also loops off the engine radiator.
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Old 12-17-2016, 01:43 PM   #9
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Thanks for the input. How did you wire the 120? I believe mine also loops off the engine radiator.
The new Atwood water heaters have the radiator loop if you want the AC, no choice. I was lucky that there was room to add an extra breaker in the main breaker box. Obviously you can't run the A/C, microwave and water heater at the same time but I was 3 weeks into a 3 month trip to Alaska so I made do. I removed the old heater and installed the new one at the campground and then drove over to the local Home Depot and bought the breaker and wiring supplies and wired it in the parking lot. Did the entire job in an afternoon. We were in Anchorage and there is a large RV supply that had the water heater in stock so the project didn't bother the trip schedule.
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Old 12-18-2016, 08:59 AM   #10
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
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Good story. Done some parking lot repairs brfore. How did you route the roamex? Did you run 12 or 14? Did you include the radiator loop?
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Old 12-18-2016, 11:51 AM   #11
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It seems like dealing with problems on the fly is half the fun of RVing. My 280 is a bit different from your 345 so for me it was easy to run the wire down the left side with the water and drain lines to the breaker box in the rear closet, probably 10' to 12' of wire. I don't remember and without going out and looking I would guess I used 12 ga. just because I usually lean to the side of overkill.

I didn't run the radiator loop because it wasn't there originally and running and maintaining another 25' of heater hose just so I could have hot water 10 minutes sooner after I stop didn't make a lot of sense. Also the loop on the water heater is just a length of tubing welded to the exterior of the tank. Not being connected I'm sure it would make a good chimney to vent tank heat into the under sink cabinet so I bought some foam pipe insulation covered it. Again maybe over kill.
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Old 12-18-2016, 12:24 PM   #12
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I had same issue 1st time camping in my '89 345. Went to shower at end of long day, flipped switch, no hot water heater firing up. Yet, I had hot water! Completely forgot about engine assist on hot water heater. Next morning, when I went to wash breakfast dishes, sure enough, I heard hot water heater fire up!
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Old 12-19-2016, 12:36 PM   #13
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
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Well I got the numbers off the water heater
model G H 64E spec 26356
Gas lighter 101225555e310
None of the numbers come up with anything. I got one reference to both Suburban and Atwood. I get nothing on the Gas lighter. Anyway I attached a pic of the heater. (I know it looks pretty bad) Can anyone tell me if it is Atwood or Suburban.
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Old 12-19-2016, 04:19 PM   #14
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Definitely an Atwood, I just replaced mine this summer.Click image for larger version

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Old 12-19-2016, 04:35 PM   #15
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Do you have a model number for it?
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Old 12-20-2016, 08:37 AM   #16
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Here it is, Amazon had the best price when I looked.Click image for larger version

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Old 12-20-2016, 10:18 AM   #17
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Before jumping off the deep end, have you looked up your control module part number and troubleshooting guide? I prefer testing a part before swapping the entire system out.
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Old 12-21-2016, 09:52 AM   #18
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
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I have been busy looking for the Gas Lighter part. The number on it is 10-12-2-5.5-5.5-e310. I finally came up with Dinosaur Electric a gentleman named Guy. 541 994 4344. He told me what I needed to replace the above part number. Part number UIBLP. He is a wholesaler who referred me to a gentleman named Roy at R&G electric who I believe is in Thousand Oaks Ca. 800 390 3908. He is sending me the part for $90. I will also replace the two sensors that are $9 on Amazon. If that doesen't work the only other part is the gas valve but it seems to be working OK. Will post when I get it all together and install. Thanks to all for the help.

Brock
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Old 12-21-2016, 09:55 AM   #19
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Just an afterthought. Guy told me the third number in the part number which is a 2 means that it tries to ignite twice before it shuts down.
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Old 12-21-2016, 09:37 PM   #20
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Nicely done Brock!
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