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Old 08-12-2020, 12:32 PM   #1
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starting the water heater on propane

I havenít started the water heater on propane yet and canít check the manual on my iPad. Canít find what the lid is talking about. Can someone help walk me through it please? No internet no electricity from storm damage so
to avoid the why Iím asking issue.
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Old 08-12-2020, 12:47 PM   #2
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If your propane is on, there should just be a switch to flip.

You should have a paper manual, as well?

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Old 08-12-2020, 12:59 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawk-ination View Post
I havenít started the water heater on propane yet and canít check the manual on my iPad. Canít find what the lid is talking about. Can someone help walk me through it please? No internet no electricity from storm damage so
to avoid the why Iím asking issue.
Which water heater do you have? If it's a standard 6 gal tank heater with pietzo-electric ignitor, merely turning it "on" at the switch in your switch panel should do it. It may take several tries for the propane to actually reach the gas valve though.

If you have one of the newer tankless on-demand jobs, you'll have to wait for someone who knows something about those to step up and help.
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Old 08-12-2020, 01:10 PM   #4
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Itís the ďoldĒ style not on demand.

I wonder if I didnít de-winterize right... Maybe missed a valve.
I tried the switch last night with no luck.

Will see if we have pressure at the blow out plug.
I hope thatís not a dumb idea...

Anything obvious Iím missing? We have propane to the generator and stove
for sure.

Thanks for the help.
We do have a manual but we have 10 trees down and a couple we just took off the house. I flipped through it but donít have tons of time to search 250 pages with no good index. I like the Airstream book better itís more practical and easier to find things. Donít remember the name right now.
Just need some quick help we are in survival mode right now. thanks
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Old 08-12-2020, 01:26 PM   #5
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We have pressure but no hot water. Iíve seen to clean a connection or something, didnít worry much about reading about it till now.

Hope someone has advice itís our only way to shower for maybe a week.
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Old 08-12-2020, 02:15 PM   #6
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Sorry youíre having these struggles in the midst of so much other chaos.

Until you get your hot water heater going, fill how ever many 2 liter bottles you need with water and set them in the sun.

In a couple of hours they will be very comfortably warm and provide a very satisfactory substitute for a proper shower.

My personal suggestion...stand in your shower, wet a couple of paper towels or large wet wipe if you have it, then add a little soap or whatever.

Soap yourself, use the water in the bottle to rinse.

Much better than a sponge bath.

In your manual should be a page with a picture of your buttons and switches, and what they do.

Good luck,

Maggie
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Old 08-12-2020, 03:12 PM   #7
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On ours when you push the switch it blinks red, then goes out. If the WH does not ignite in a short while the red light comes back on. Is that what is happening with yours? And we have a separate switch for gas or electric. Otherwise I can not help. Ours had a corroded ground for the piezo lighter and it sometimes would not light. I fixed that. I hate it when the WH does not work.
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Old 08-12-2020, 05:04 PM   #8
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Is it a Dometic? They are famous for defective control boards. On our first trailer, The red indicator in the on/off switch stayed lit, indicating failure to ignite as described in a previous post. From the outside access, I could light the burner with a match during the initial few seconds of “gas on”, but that was not a good fix - It just pinpointed the real issue.
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Old 08-12-2020, 05:26 PM   #9
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My experience is the hw heater will only try to light a couple of times and then not try again unless I flip off the switch and switch it back on. I always make sure gas is flowing to the stove before I try the hw heater. I turn on the propane and wait a few minutes to let everything settle out.

Then cross your fingers....
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Old 08-12-2020, 09:00 PM   #10
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I donít think itís Dometic but not sure what it is. It has two names on the cover but might just be the controls...Iíll come back to that when I can see something in the daylight.

Our light next to the switch might be burnt out, I see where it should light up but never has. The water heater has worked at least ten times on electricity, I just hadnít worried about trying it on propane. I did start the generator and flipped both switches to on so we got hot water then. Pretty sure the electric was what heated the water because I heard the generator bog down when I switched it on.

Can you see any flame if the pilot is lit normally? Iíll have to mess with it more when we get electricity and life isnít so crazy. Thanks for the help. Too tired and too many important things going on to have time to research this right now. Imagine fall coming and ending in one day without the leaves drying up with probably 200 trees around and then 10 more decimated and three on the house. No electricity, no water, and food is starting to go bad. Glad to have the Airstream as a backup. Itís helped this situation be not so bad.
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Old 08-13-2020, 05:37 AM   #11
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On mine you can hear the clicking as the pilot starts to light, then see and hear the flame once it has lit.

Check your fuses, if you haven’t already.

I have just had the sensor on my water heater replaced, where the switch didn’t turn red and the water heater did not light, so there may be something else going on.

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Old 08-13-2020, 06:58 AM   #12
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Try unplugging and reconnecting wires inside the outside vent cover. They sometimes get corroded.
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Old 08-13-2020, 07:15 AM   #13
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Ours was labeled Atwood, but Dometic had bought them out and kept the name.
Yours is most likely electronic ignition, so there would be no pilot. You will know if it’s operating by the gas flame, noise and exhaust heat.
I did not have the electric option on our ‘19 Bambi 22. For troubleshooting, I would yell to the wife to turn it on as I kneeled on the outside to light the gas jet. Many mosquito bites and singed fingers.
These units are straightforward when they aren’t malfunctioning, so you might want to contact the dealer or start looking for a handy person...
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Old 08-13-2020, 07:20 AM   #14
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Sorry Hawk... haven't been back... dealing with cleaning up here too. I've got the bulk of the damage cleaned up both here at the house and at my apartment building in Mt. Vernon. More to do... but I need to take a day off. I'm getting too old for this stuff.

Anyway... to the issue at hand.

There are two brands of 6 gallon tank water heaters that are most commonly used, Dometic/Atwood and Suburban. The Atwood heaters have a rectangular access panel. The Suburban access panel is square.

From a consumer-lighting-the-burner perspective, both are functionally the same. In most installations, there is a red rocker switch in a black housing. When you turn the switch "on" it glows red while the ignitor tries to light the burner. It will try for a short period of time, and turn black... then glow red again while it tries a second time. It may cycle two or three times before it stops.

It may be necessary to do that process a couple of times until the gas purges the air out of the lines, and gets through to the burner.

If it still doesn't light, wait a couple more minutes and try it again. If the systems are all working correctly, it should light.

For the first lighting of the season, or after a lengthy storage or period of disuse, the propane lines may need to be purged before you try to light any of the other propane appliances. Turning the stove burners until they light fully is a good way to help to purge the lines of air.

Now, if you've done all that and it's not lighting... or it burns sickly yellow with a lot of soot... you have a blocked burner tube. Spiders LOVE propane odorant, and they build little nests in the burner tube. You may be able to clear it with a "craft store" 12" pipe cleaner. If you don't have one, the burner tube is an L-shaped tube, about 6" long (roughly) and 3/4" in diameter, held on with three or four screws, and generally comes off easily. It's pretty intuitive, just by looking, how to R&R it. Just don't change the position of the air mixture collar. I've used a small, flexible twig to clear spider nests from burner tubes when I'm out in the wild, and have nothing else. It's a ten-minute job open to close.

Last, if that doesn't do it, or you have no "spark" when you try to light the water heater, there's a fusible link that can burn out. It's protected by a small tube. I've attached a photo. A simple VOM can tell you the condition of the one installed.

If none of those issues solve your problem, or the switch light isn't lighting, then it's time to try to troubleshoot the electrical in the coach... either the switch has gone bad, or you have a broken wire somewhere in that run.

Good luck!!!
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Old 08-13-2020, 07:25 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Try unplugging and reconnecting wires inside the outside vent cover. They sometimes get corroded.
And use contact cleaner on these before reconnecting.

Pictures of the damage in Cedar Rapids is pretty horrific, and it appears no part of the city escaped the winds.

Northern Illinois had 11 confirmed tornadoes from this same storm.

Mother Nature calls the shots, once again.


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Old 08-13-2020, 08:16 AM   #16
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Quote:
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And use contact cleaner on these before reconnecting.

Pictures of the damage in Cedar Rapids is pretty horrific, and it appears no part of the city escaped the winds.

Northern Illinois had 11 confirmed tornadoes from this same storm.

Mother Nature calls the shots, once again.


Maggie
No part of Eastern Iowa escaped the winds. They were clocked at 115mph here in Tipton. Here's what I did most of the day yesterday at my building in Mt. Vernon IA... and quite honestly the damage I had was really light in comparison to much of the area.

Storm damage, Mt. Vernon, IA from the Derecho storm August 10, 2020 by Roger H, on Flickr
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Old 08-13-2020, 02:41 PM   #17
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Try buying a new control panel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawk-ination View Post
I havenít started the water heater on propane yet and canít check the manual on my iPad. Canít find what the lid is talking about. Can someone help walk me through it please? No internet no electricity from storm damage so
to avoid the why Iím asking issue.
I ordered a new control panel - it should arrive tonight. THis is the one I bought for my 2018 Bambi 16RB:
https://www.amazon.com/Dometic-Atwoo...351179&sr=8-14
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Old 08-13-2020, 05:01 PM   #18
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Check to see if you can lite your cooktop. If so skip next step.
Reset the OPD valves on your tank(s) by closing them and then open them slowly.
Check to see if you have at least 10.5 volts at the WH gas valve when starting. If so:
Have some one near the WH to listen for ignition and flame lighting.
If you smell gas wait a few minutes for the excess to dissipate, then:
Try lighting it with a BBQ lighter if you can hear the gas valve opening (it takes 2 people).
If it lights normally and runs OK, it just won't fire up automatically. If the flame goes out the thermal probe may be bent away from the burner flame path. In the right position, that keeps the valve open. If the ignighter won't spark make a gap of 1/8". If no spark or no gas, but voltage OK? You probably need a Dinasaur circuit board.
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Old 08-13-2020, 05:31 PM   #19
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Rather than write a diagnostic manual, watch one or more Youtube videos which explain every detail about your heater as well as what to do to get back to camping. Here is an example:

https://bit.ly/3h7cemE
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