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Old 08-07-2020, 10:22 PM   #1
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Erratic Water Heater Behavior

I have the Dometic 6 gallon electric/propane water heater in my 2019 Flying Cloud, and it's started acting up on our current trip.

When the water is cold, I can turn on electric, propane, or both and I get hot water. After heavy usage (e.g. wife or kid taking a shower), the indicator light on the gas/electric switch plate turns solid red. The light turns off when I switch off the heater. The red light will return within a second or 2 of switching on either the electric or gas. If I ignore it and continue using water, I can eventually turn on electric (or gas or both) and the red light does not illuminate. At no point, do I actually run out of hot water.

I've searched the operation manual, these forums, and Mr. Google, but I've not found anyone talking about similar problem. Has anyone seen this? What could be happening?

A few points of interest: On my 2nd day of ownership, the propane ignition failed so I replaced the board with a new one provided by my dealer. It's not a Dinosaur board, but it was quite different from the OEM one. This seems to be working correctly at all other times.

This problem started once we got up to higher altitudes. I've been at 7000' or higher for the last week, which coincides with my problems. I don't think this would explain my problem, but I'm at a loss.

Any thoughts?
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Old 08-07-2020, 11:03 PM   #2
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The light is supposed to indicate that the controller sensed an issue with the burner (failed to light or flame went out) or that the electric heater circuit is bad or shorted. Sounds like yours has a mind of its own. You may want to swap the board again or you could just live with it till you have a more serious issue.
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Old 08-08-2020, 05:33 AM   #3
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Jay,

Curious and clueless so reached into the Sat AM SWAG jar. Can you take a look at the Main Burner Air Shutter and see if its way too far open or closed?

Clipped from Atwood water heater service manual

"Adjust main burner air shutter approximately 1/4 open"

Gary
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Old 08-10-2020, 09:23 PM   #4
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Jay,

Curious and clueless so reached into the Sat AM SWAG jar. Can you take a look at the Main Burner Air Shutter and see if its way too far open or closed?

Clipped from Atwood water heater service manual

"Adjust main burner air shutter approximately 1/4 open"

Gary
Hi Gary

The air shutter looks to be adjusted correctly. The problem seems to be triggered when I'm using the electric water heater. However, once the electric "problem" occurs, the red light comes on and neither heating method works.

On a possibly related note...the water coming out of the faucet seems to be a lot hotter than I remember in the past. Could overheated water cause these symptoms?

-Jayson
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Old 08-10-2020, 10:11 PM   #5
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I was aware the red light would come on with problems on the electric side. Not saying it doesn’t but 99% of the time it lights because the burner on the propane side is t lit when the board tries to light it. The electric and propane systems are usually pretty independent.

The control board is notorious for causing problems. I had no end of issues until we switched to a Dinosaur board. You want model UIB64.

Also, verify that you’ve bled the air out of the propane line after switching the tanks. Usually you just light the stove for a minute or two. After that there may still be air in the line that goes exclusively to the hot water heater so you may have to turn it on, wait a few minutes, then turn it off and on again.
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Old 08-11-2020, 12:10 AM   #6
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Make sure that the Tstat sensor is properly touching the water heater. There is a spring attached to the sensor that can become loose. If not - the water overheats and the eco sensor at some point senses overheating and disconnects everything - also the board switches on the red light. That explains why after using some amount of water again and resetting the heater it starts heating again - until again it overheats.
I hope that helps. Regards Hans-Christian
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Old 08-11-2020, 07:28 AM   #7
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Make sure that the Tstat sensor is properly touching the water heater. There is a spring attached to the sensor that can become loose. If not - the water overheats and the eco sensor at some point senses overheating and disconnects everything - also the board switches on the red light. That explains why after using some amount of water again and resetting the heater it starts heating again - until again it overheats.
I hope that helps. Regards Hans-Christian
This is the best idea I’ve heard yet. Where is this thermostat sensor? I have the water heater model with the heating element on the back side of the unit.
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Old 08-11-2020, 07:37 AM   #8
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I just had a similar problem on last outing. My thermostat wasn't working properly, tripping the ECO switch. Very hot water. the thermostat was causing the gas valve to rapidly cycle upon ignition attempt. Sometimes it would fire off, sometimes not. The light behavior was very erratic, and I was unable to really make sense of it.
I got a new ECO switch, thermostat and the attachment pad off Amazon for about $15.

Side note: You WILL need to adjust the air mixture at 7k. You will have a lazy yellow flame and ignition will be difficult. Adjust back when you get to earth.
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Old 08-11-2020, 07:50 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by jaybauman View Post
This is the best idea I’ve heard yet. Where is this thermostat sensor? I have the water heater model with the heating element on the back side of the unit.
Jay,

Look at the 14:50 min mark of this video and Darren shows the thermostats.



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Old 08-11-2020, 09:26 AM   #10
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Update: I’m at an RV service center in Cañon City CO. They diagnosed my control board as “dead” and ordered a Dinosaur board that will arrive tomorrow. Right now they’re giving me a “loaner board” to get through the next 36 hours.

Thanks, Royal Gorge Truck & RV!!!
http://www.royalgorgetruckandrv.net


P.S. I can attest that the water is veeeeerrrrrryyyyy cold here in Colorado.... :-)
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Old 08-13-2020, 08:52 PM   #11
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Problem Solved

The Dinosaur board arrived yesterday. Upon installation, no LEDs illuminated. After extensive testing with my digital volt meter, I discovered that the inline thermal cutoff device was the problem.

On a very temporary basis, I removed the thermal cutoff and installed the OEM ignition board. Immediately, both electric and propane modes started working correctly. Today I purchased a replacement thermal cutoff and the water heater is working as designed!

For anyone who finds this thread searching for water heater problems, be sure to eliminate the thermal cutoff device as a problem before you start buying expensive replacement parts.

I returned the brand-new Dinosaur board to the RV shop I purchased it from. They confirmed it wasn't working and refunded my money. Has anyone else had a defective Dinosaur board?
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Old 08-14-2020, 05:06 AM   #12
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Nope.
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Old 08-14-2020, 05:29 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by jaybauman View Post
For anyone who finds this thread searching for water heater problems, be sure to eliminate the thermal cutoff device as a problem before you start buying expensive replacement parts.
Jay,

First, thanks for the conclusion report. All too often not included in a failure thread.

Back to basics, multi-meter and check the simple stuff.

Happy trails.

Gary
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Old 08-14-2020, 05:48 AM   #14
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Jay,

First, thanks for the conclusion report. All too often not included in a failure thread.

Back to basics, multi-meter and check the simple stuff.

Happy trails.

Gary
Although, I am having trouble understanding how the thermal link is erratic and intermittent. It is usually either melted open or closed.
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Old 08-14-2020, 05:50 AM   #15
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Wait, are you talking about the button shaped ECO, or the little restsistor looking in-line link?
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Old 08-14-2020, 06:01 AM   #16
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Wait, are you talking about the button shaped ECO, or the little restsistor looking in-line link?
The resistor-looking thing.

And I am having trouble understanding the intermittent behavior as well.
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Old 08-14-2020, 06:03 AM   #17
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Interesting...please keep us informed after extended operation, either good or bad.
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Old 08-14-2020, 10:50 AM   #18
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The resistor thing in the plastic tube is a one time thermal fuse. Exposure to extreme heat like a burner running but exhaust is blocked it melts and opens the circuit shutting off gas supply.

In Darren’s video he shows corrosion on the spade terminals and replaced it.

Kinda curious how the shop diagnosed a bad board (pretty sure a tester exists) and then
it worked after all.
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Old 08-14-2020, 05:26 PM   #19
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Kinda curious how the shop diagnosed a bad board (pretty sure a tester exists) and then
it worked after all.
Yep. I retract my praise of this shop earlier in this thread.
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