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Old 02-25-2006, 11:25 AM   #1
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Water Heater Woe. 1985 345

Gettting the coach ready for spring break and have a number of projects that I am working on, one of which is to get the water heater working. But I will be didily-dinged-donged if I can find the switch that turns the water heater on so I can see if the unit even works. I tried to trace the wiring but could only trace it to a light at the front base of the sink cabinet (assume it shows the heater is on?) but could not find a switch.

I really have little hope that it works, but figure it would be best to trouble shoot before replacing. Also I cannot find the valve that runs coolant to the tank to heat the water off of the engine. Anyone know where that would be?

And finally if all else fails where is a good source for a new water heater that will be a good direct replacement for this unit.

Thanks guys, by the time I am done with these projects I will be able to answer questions instead of asking them.

Jeff
Atlanta
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Old 02-25-2006, 11:36 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Honkity Hank
..... I tried to trace the wiring but could only trace it to a light at the front base of the sink cabinet (assume it shows the heater is on?) but could not find a switch..... Also I cannot find the valve that runs coolant to the tank to heat the water off of the engine. Anyone know where that would be?
Jeff:


On the question of the switch - on the '87 345 the switch is about 2' above the sink, and toward the right hand wall on the drivers side. The light comes on only when the "smart" board of the water heater is attempting a light - it does not stay "on" whenever the WH is on - only for the short time when the WH (computer) board calls for a light. If the water in the WH is hot due to the coolant from the engine the light will not function at all when the switch is turned to the "on" position. On mine, the switch is a rocker switch, with a built in indicator light. The "on position is to the right, off is to the left.

There is no valve on mine to control the coolant flow to the water heater - several members here have had leaks in the lines going to the water heater and also the secondary heater under the couch. Most have recommended changing out the lines as a precautionary measure to prevent coolant leaks.

Luck -
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Old 02-25-2006, 11:43 AM   #3
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1987 34.5' Airstream 345
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Our '87 345 has two switches, both are wall mounted to the right of the kitchen and bathroom sinks respectively. Do you have the factory wiring diagrams? If not, I can scan and email them to you. I haven't verified the valve location but I belive it's under the couch but that may be the aux heater?!!
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Old 02-25-2006, 11:55 AM   #4
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On another note, we also have the heater installation/maintenance manual, Atwood Doc#MPD 93756. Do you need a copy?
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Old 02-25-2006, 12:15 PM   #5
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Of course 87MH was right on target with the valve, I couldn't find one on our '87 345 (the one I thought we had was indeed for the aux heater). The Atwood manual shows that the heat exchanger water lines are shared with the aux heater lines from the engine, connected with a tee. Those lines appear to run under the coach and connect to the water heater in the space under our aft dinette seat.
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Old 02-25-2006, 01:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckwheat
On another note, we also have the heater installation/maintenance manual, Atwood Doc#MPD 93756. Do you need a copy?
That would be great, our manual is not helpful on this topic, any information will be good.

On this coach the water heater is under the sink on the curb side. If the switch is above the counter then I completely missed it, the only switch on that wall is for the lights above the galley.

Jeff
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Old 02-25-2006, 02:00 PM   #7
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I'll get the manual to you in PDF format later today. The kitchen switch for our heater is very misleading, it looks like a light switch, located above a real light switch. I had to label it just to keep the heater from being turned on by mistake (we leave it off except when we needed).
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Old 02-25-2006, 02:05 PM   #8
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I just re-read your post... our coach has two water heaters, a road-side propane unit for the main water system and an under-sink unit for the "Insta-Hot" Water Dispenser. Which heater are you troubleshooting? I think MH87 and I were keyed on the main Atwood porpane heater.
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Old 02-25-2006, 02:14 PM   #9
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Of the two water heater switches in our '87 345, the bathroom switch is a lighted switch that controls the road-side Atwood propane water heater. The kitchen switch controls the Insta-Hot Water Dispnser made by In-Sink-Erator of Emerson Electric Company.
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Old 02-25-2006, 02:27 PM   #10
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1987 34.5' Airstream 345
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A final note on the Emerson Insta-Hot water heater, a recall has been issued on some models to correct a potential electrical hazard from water leakage, details here: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml02/02189.html
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Old 02-25-2006, 02:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckwheat
I just re-read your post... our coach has two water heaters, a road-side propane unit for the main water system and an under-sink unit for the "Insta-Hot" Water Dispenser. Which heater are you troubleshooting? I think MH87 and I were keyed on the main Atwood porpane heater.
Airstream must of made some advances in the art of motorhoming from 85 to 87. As far as i can tell I only have one water heater, no insta-heater for the kitchen sink. Just one propane model, located on the curb side with an access panel just to the rear of the door. The tank is located under the sink cabinet below a full shelf that hides the small tank.

THe model idetification label has deteriorated where teh model number is not visible.
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Old 02-25-2006, 03:29 PM   #12
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1987 34.5' Airstream 345
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That sounds like your coach propane heater, the one controlled by a thermostat in the dinette area. A similar heater is in the bottom of the bedroom road side closet. Your water heater should be on the outside, forward of the rear wheel well, road side. That's the heater part. The tank part should be under the aft dinette seat, visible through the floor access door of that bench (on our '87 anyway). Fred's Airstream Archives has a good picture in this group, scroll down until you see the road side view: http://www.airstreammotorhomes.com/1985/1985_345_C.html. The switch for this water heater is in the bathroom.
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Old 02-25-2006, 03:55 PM   #13
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Honkity Hank:


Buckwheat is right on with his advice.

To access the water heater from the inside remove the cushions from the forward facing dinette seat (the rearmost one - just in front of the refrigerator) and you will find the plywood underneath the cushion secured by about 18 wood screws (phillips head) - grab a battery powered screw driver and remove the screws (won't take long) - there are a couple of drain ports under the seat that should be drained for winterizing.

Do not attempt to light the water heater unless you are sure it is full of water - a burn through on the fire tube will result if firing up a non-filled heater.

There is a Forum Rally not far from Atlanta coming up soon - do a search with the drop down button at the top of the page on the subject. I'm sure there will be knowledgable people there to give you a hand with your analysis - whether or not you bring your 345.
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Old 02-25-2006, 04:01 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckwheat
That sounds like your coach propane heater, the one controlled by a thermostat in the dinette area. A similar heater is in the bottom of the bedroom road side closet. Your water heater should be on the outside, forward of the rear wheel well, road side.
It is the water heater. There are 2 coach heaters, both on the road side, one forward of the dinette with a blower and register under the sofa, this is controlled by the dinnette t-stat. A second unit is aft of the bath with a register under the bed near the foot but on the side, t-stat in the bedroom. Those work great though, so no issues with them.

I do not have a second water heater, just the one under the sink with a small tank, it does look to have coolant lines running under the tank but I did not know what those were before I starting looking for answers here.

I am concerned that this small heater and tank will not be sufficient for a proper shower, but right now that is not even an option since I can't turn the thing on anyway.
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Old 02-25-2006, 04:08 PM   #15
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Pictures would help....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Honkity Hank
It is the water heater. There are 2 coach heaters, both on the road side, one forward of the dinette with a blower and register under the sofa, this is controlled by the dinnette t-stat.
Could you post some pics?

I wonder if there is enough room under the couch for a gas fired heater - most of the 345's have an engine coolant heater (Coach Auxillary Heater - blower controls on dash) in this location, just forward of the Generator enclosure.

The instructions for uploading pictures are under the "Manage Attachments" button at the bottom of the "Reply to Thread" page - it's not hard - just have to remember that the max size of pictures is 640X480 pixels.
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Old 02-25-2006, 04:21 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Honkity Hank
It is the water heater. There are 2 coach heaters, both on the road side, one forward of the dinette with a blower and register under the sofa, this is controlled by the dinnette t-stat. A second unit is aft of the bath with a register under the bed near the foot but on the side, t-stat in the bedroom. Those work great though, so no issues with them.

I do not have a second water heater, just the one under the sink with a small tank, it does look to have coolant lines running under the tank but I did not know what those were before I starting looking for answers here.

I am concerned that this small heater and tank will not be sufficient for a proper shower, but right now that is not even an option since I can't turn the thing on anyway.
The one under the sink with a small tank is not your coach main water heater. It's to give you very hot water at the sink to make tea, coffee, etc. You should have a spout with a lever on the back of the sink. If so, then it's definitely not the main water heater. To find the main one, go outside and look for a "door" that has a grill work in the upper right corner. That's the outside cover to the main water heater. There's a twist catch at the top, and when turned you should be able to hinge the door down at the bottom. After that you should see the tube shaped burner housing, controls, and gas line. Once you've made sure you've found it, you can then go inside to that same location for the inside connections, tank, etc. My 87 has a switch in the bath like Buckwheat described, and the other is on the monitor panel above the stove. Hope this helps.
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Old 02-25-2006, 04:22 PM   #17
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That's just wild! The variety of configurations in these motorhomes never ceases to amaze me! Attached are pics of my setup (also undergoing preps for Spring and the Georgia Rally in Apr '06). And you're saying you don't have the outside water heater shown here?!!
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Old 02-25-2006, 04:25 PM   #18
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Captions would have been nice...
These are: water heater road side, rear of same under dinette seat (note the seat belts!), the insta-hot heater under the sink, and the aux heater under the couch (those black hoses are teed at some point to the black hoses showing in the under-seat heater picture at the far right bottom).
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Old 02-25-2006, 04:36 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckwheat
That's just wild! The variety of configurations in these motorhomes never ceases to amaze me! Attached are pics of my setup (also undergoing preps for Spring and the Georgia Rally in Apr '06). And you're saying you don't have the outside water heater shown here?!!
Your first picture

Is what my heater door looks like next to the coach door on curb side.

Your second picture
is what my tank looks like under the sink with similar but not identical plumbing.

Your third picture

I have nothing that looks like this in my coach.

I am too young for senility and I was just working on it today so I know that my config is different from yours, unfortunately the coach is 60 miles away so pictures are not possible for a week or so.
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Old 02-25-2006, 04:38 PM   #20
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The rocker switch in the bathroom should turn on the water heater. If the propane is on, I always light the stove first to see if it is getting gas...then turn on the switch in the bathroom, it lights for a minute and when the water heater ignites, the light goes off. You leave the switch flipped to the right...it stays on. Ours heats enough to turn off the heater overnight and it will be moderately warm, but quick to reheat in the morning.
You should hear the water heating firing up...of course be sure the water is on to it. In a short time it should heat up, enought to feel the water warm at the sink.
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