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Old 10-23-2020, 08:50 AM   #1
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Louisville , Kentucky
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Patch for hot water heater

I'm in the middle of gutting the interior of our Argosy, which includes removing all the old plumbing, electric, and appliances.

I noticed that the hot water heater itself is bolted directly to the exterior skin. Once removed, there's basically just a giant hole in the side. I was hoping to go tankless when we restore, so I wouldn't be just replacing in the same spot, but not sure the best way to patch this hole.

Are there kits or anything available to do this? Will I just have to rivet an aluminum sheet to cover the hole? If so, is there a certain kind of sheet I'll have to get so I can paint it?
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Old 10-23-2020, 10:45 AM   #2
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Since I do not like tankless water heaters my suggestion is to just go back with a new tanked water heater.
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Old 10-23-2020, 12:22 PM   #3
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If you go the tankless route you’ll likely need to patch the hole unless something like the Girard unit would bolt directly into the existing opening.

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The other option would be to install the old water heater cover over the existing hole thereby mimicking the original appearance. You’d have to form some framework, but the effort shouldn’t be extensive, and you’d still have the original exterior appearance.

Otherwise I think you’re looking at a simple patch. Patches are fairly common and go largely unnoticed if installed properly.

Best of luck,

Kevin
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Old 10-23-2020, 09:27 PM   #4
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Any reason in particular you don’t like tankless in an Airstream? I figure tankless is considered top of the line for residential, but I’d be curious what the specific considerations I’d need to make for an RV.
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Old 10-24-2020, 08:52 AM   #5
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I had an early tankless residential. Poor control at low flow and the unit burned out twice For RV I just find that the 6 gallon Atwood does a fine job for me. I run it a little while in the morning and a little while at night. Have warm to hot water avaliable all day like when we stop for lunch. So the low flow temperature control worries me and I think the on demand may actually use more propane. To me a RV is just different than residential and well suited to the conventional little water heater. There is just not enough total use of energy for any percentage savings to mean much. So it comes down to convenience for the usage.
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Old 10-24-2020, 10:33 AM   #6
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I use a PrecisionTemp 500 series. SWMBO loves long hot showers, and the 6 gallon Atwood wasn’t handling it. She’s happy and the peace and quiet is priceless.

Have a Bosch tankless at home. Ditto.
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Old 10-24-2020, 01:24 PM   #7
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Yes you need to rivet a new piece of aluminum over the hole. Easy to find the supplies on the internet. I like “Aircraft Spruce” very fast shipping. Just cut to size round the corners a little, measure and drill holes on your patch first, so you have nice straight evenly spaced rivet lines, then use Olympic rivets to install. I don’t like tankless as well, I moved my water heater next to the kitchen sink, since that’s where we use hot water the most often. Saves water, and it fits our floor plan.
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Old 10-24-2020, 04:17 PM   #8
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If you install a Precission Temp tankless heater it will fit the same cutout with some trimming. I have had mine for 3 1/2 years and it is flawless. The only mandatory requirements for operation are propane, 12v, and water flow of 1/2 rpm. Be sure your water system faucet screens and pump are up to that amount of flow. Really, no different from the tank heaters except for minimum flow. It does save on propane and water.
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Old 10-24-2020, 06:11 PM   #9
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Yup. I had to trim only about 3/8” at the top of the opening. Do not forget to support the bottom back edge of the enclosure with a appropriate block to keep the enclosure from bending. Also seal op all the seams in the enclosure with aluminum faced duct tape to prevent air leaks.
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