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Old 07-29-2012, 12:13 AM   #1
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Getting Into More Hot Water - But I Like This Kind!

My living arrangement has been a bit strange since purchasing the FaN. I sleep in the trailer, shower in a barn, change into my clothes in a cottage (where they are kept) cook my meals in a house but like to eat them in the FaN. This is all done on the same piece of property. There is a method to this madness; I was cooking and showering elsewhere to save money on propane.

Anyway, I decided to stop being so cheap and have started showering in the FaN. Like most women, when I want hot water I want it now and lots of it, and am not particularly interested in where it came from or how it got there.

I really love how I just flip the big switch in the bathroom, a red light goes on and then ping and poof and the hot-water tank starts purring like a contented cat. The outside vent lets off a little steam as it gurgles happily along. After about ten minutes, my shower awaits. The water is just the right temperature and I always have enough.

Maybe I should just shuddup and enjoy it, but bearing in mind trailers are trailers and something's going to go sometime, I suspect I will turn the switch on one day and there will be no ping, poof, purr or happy gurgle.

Can anyone tell me the why of that and what I will have to do? I bet it's happened to someone!

I didn't post this in the technical section because that is supposed to be reserved for problems. I don't have a problem (yet). A nice hot shower is part of a nice "lifestyle" so that's why I plunked it here.

Thanking you in advance for an answer to my problem....which really isn't a problem. I just want to be prepared.
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Old 07-29-2012, 07:00 AM   #2
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I am not actually answering the question you asked, though I'd bet others will jump in with suggestions for tankless vs exact replacement-- but I wanted to suggest in the meantime ghat you get an electric element for your hot water heater so that you can use hot without burning propane.
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Old 07-29-2012, 07:16 AM   #3
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My water heater does both propane and electric, which is nice. I switched off the propane last fall, and haven't had any issues using just the electric side. I do, however, drain and flush the tank every 90 days. I've found there is more build up using electric than would normally happen using propane. On my list of things to purchase is a tank rinser which will help get more of the sediment out.

Search - water heater flush - Camping World

As they say on other threads, PM is essential.

Have a great day!
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Old 07-29-2012, 12:19 PM   #4
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I never entertained the thought of installing an electric heater. I initially thought I had the propane/electric option. The service guy at the dealership and I searched for the electric switch, then realized we didn't have it.

Thanks for the tips about flushing the water heater. I know how to drain it, but did not recognize the importantance of a good flush. PM sure is essential! This has been the hardest thing for me to grasp, but I'm trying to learn.
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Old 07-29-2012, 01:37 PM   #5
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Propane is a good way to heat water. Probably cheaper than electric. We have gas-electric, but seldon do the electric (I do have to plug it in). Probably will not have to do much to the HW heater. Be sure not to let it freeze. Every once in a while you might look at the flame and see if it is burning well.
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Old 08-04-2012, 07:30 AM   #6
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We use the electric when we have Hookups since electricity is included, I.e., free to us! Otherwise we use propane.
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Old 08-04-2012, 07:43 AM   #7
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Hi, FaN!

A few thoughts:

Those "hot sticks", the ones that one inserts into a gas WH to heat by electricity, are controversial regarding safety, so just be aware of that before buying one.

Also, IMHO LP gas is the fastest way to heat water, quicker than electric heating, from what I have seen.

Lastly, at least once a season, I need to blow compressed air through the large (3"?) tube that goes through the core of my WH to remove a fair quantity of a light grey powdery dust. My clue that this needs done is that the WH won't stay lit.

It seems that spiders love LP gas, and love even more the dark, private tube to spin their webs in. I use a canned air to do it usually, the one sold in most computer stores, or my compressor if it's there. Don't stand directly in front of the tube when you do this. Don't ask how I know

Lastly, I use a squeegee to leave the walls clean and dry. Makes for one less thing to scrub when doing my cleaning.
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Old 08-04-2012, 09:31 AM   #8
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Aagae, thanks for those tips! I just read a thread where a member with a new Flying Cloud with the propane/elec. option was having a lot of trouble with leaking. I don't quite understand the whys of it, but I think I'll leave well enough alone and stick with the propane only.

Can you tell me where I access that 3" tube? I'm assuming this is where I put the flush liquid too?
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Old 08-04-2012, 09:41 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Fly at Night View Post
Aagae, thanks for those tips! I just read a thread where a member with a new Flying Cloud with the propane/elec. option was having a lot of trouble with leaking. I don't quite understand the whys of it, but I think I'll leave well enough alone and stick with the propane only.

Can you tell me where I access that 3" tube? I'm assuming this is where I put the flush liquid too?
NOOOOOOO

The 3" tube is the burner chimney, NOT where fluids go. That is a whole separate operation. If you open up the water heater cover you will see the tube it is pretty much front and center and has the burner and pilot light running into it.

Aaron
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Old 08-04-2012, 09:50 AM   #10
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wahoonc, oh dear. Now you know what you're dealing with. Thanks for that heads up!

I think I better buy that "Airstreaming for Dummies" book!
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Old 08-04-2012, 09:53 AM   #11
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FaN, are you saying you don't like to do navy showers? Showers at full flow are pretty tough on the gray tank unless one has full hookups. Speaking for myself, I haven't had sewer at a campsite much more than a handful of times.

An electric water heater goes the wrong direction on versatility of camping with or without electric hookups. And since a common 3-prong 15A outlet can't supply much more than a 1500W space heater, I'd think an electric WH would have to be 30 amp before you could heat a reservoir of water really fast. Is tankless even a possibility with electric -- no answer from here. Before the RV industry dives into this, they'd install a bunch of electric-only fridges -- and you just don't see that.

Now ... is it Classics that have dual fuel LP/electric HWHs? Classic owners, what is the response time when you use electric only? Are they 15-amp?

My recall on what lewster had said about tankless wasn't great, so I did some good reading in these threads:
New tankless water heater
Problem with PrecisionTemp RV-500 Install
New Atwood Tankless
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Old 08-04-2012, 10:11 AM   #12
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Canoe, I've been doing those navy showers all my life; I didn't know they were called that until I read it here on the forum. My parents drilled that into my head. I guess "cheap with the heat" runs in the family.

Thanks for the links. I am feeling a little overwhelmed by the maintenance issues at present. I still like my trailer, but for someone who only knew how to change a lightbulb before - well, I feel like a nincompoop for not understanding some basic maintenance terminology.

As I just wrote in another thread, if JC offered a hitch to tail-light orientation, I would jump on an airplane right this minute. I wonder if some of the big Airstream dealers would consider something like this? Charge the attendees for it. I'd pay....willingly!
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Old 08-04-2012, 10:44 AM   #13
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Today --- you don't have to go to school to get an education.

What one learns in a school is possibly only 10% applicable to your own useful knowledge. The rest of it just takes up valuable brain parking space never to be used again.

With instant availability of information today on the INTERNET, one just has to search for the subject/problem and various repair methods offered.

Yes -- it would be nice if "AIRSTREAM" had a more detailed "HELP" site for current and out of production models and equipment/options. This site night also have replacement suggestions for "no longer available" equipment.

To some extent that is what AirForums is trying to accomplish but the information is rather scattered and hard to find, even with the search.

Probably still best to use Goggle Search which seams to be best at finding what one needs.

Education is paying attention to life, watching how others succeed, (stay with, and watch the repair man doing the job rather than going for coffee) and then duplicating that as best your ability allows.

Of course, the other option is to *^$# @ (&%$ ^&%.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fly at Night View Post
Thanks for the links. I am feeling a little overwhelmed by the maintenance issues at present. I still like my trailer, but for someone who only knew how to change a lightbulb before - well, I feel like a nincompoop for not understanding some basic maintenance terminology.

As I just wrote in another thread, if JC offered a hitch to tail-light orientation, I would jump on an airplane right this minute. I wonder if some of the big Airstream dealers would consider something like this? Charge the attendees for it. I'd pay....willingly!
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Old 08-04-2012, 12:29 PM   #14
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Carla,

You will always be learning. I know a fair amount about vehicle repair, plumbing, electrical, etc., but I still have a lot of learn. It is just like growing up, it takes a lifetime.

Here is a good resource for common RV issues: Amazon.com: woodalls rv owners handbook It explains how these things work and how to fix them.

There are available electrical add ons from the water heater manufacturer for electric hot water. They have a 20 amp plug, separate from your shore power one, that can go into a 20 amp receptacle at a campground or outside a house. Electricity takes about twice as long to heat water than propane, so electric may not be efficient depending on what you pay for each fuel. The advantage of electricity at a campground is you don't (usually) have to pay for it and you don't use any propane.

We only turn on the water heater when we need it—maybe twice a day. When the dishes or us are washed, we turn it off. The water stays hot for a long time, especially in the summer. It appears the hot water heater takes very little propane, though I have never measured it.

A discussion was going on regarding the dual fuel water heaters on another thread and the person who started it had a 2012 FC, so I guess they are available or standard on them now and seem to have been on Classics for a while. The problem with the dual fuel seems to be pressure build up in the system causing the pressure valve on the heater to open to release some pressure and a little water. The pressure valve is doing what it is supposed to, but there seems to be a design problem somewhere, perhaps in the Airstream installation or in the dual fuel heater. The thread was closed before a solution to the issue could be found. At present the fix is to leave the electric off during the night or allow some air into the system by opening the pressure release valve on the heater manually—use gloves and stand to the side, it can be scalding.

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Old 08-04-2012, 12:35 PM   #15
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Gene, our morning and night usage pattern is quite similar to yours.

overlander63 has spent significant time fulltiming in his Airstreams. Think I recall him once saying that he went months and longer before turning of his propane HWH. Never had a problem.
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Old 08-04-2012, 12:38 PM   #16
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Here's a couple more links that give interesting information on Airstream repair. The first one is a series, done by the Classic Rides DIY TV show.

The other is a link you can try different versions (change the search term, that is) of on youtube.com to see what you can find.
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Old 08-04-2012, 01:34 PM   #17
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Fly -- I like most others, am also concerned about cost,(some call that cheap ) but when we are camping, I generally just leave the HW tank propane on. I like to have hot water when I want it.

This does not apply to your unit, but we have the engine heat exchanger option, so we have hot water when we are on the go also. Just like being at home.

Dave


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Originally Posted by Fly at Night View Post
Anyway, I decided to stop being so cheap and have started showering in the FaN. Like most women, when I want hot water I want it now and lots of it, and am not particularly interested in where it came from or how it got there.
I really love how I just flip the big switch in the bathroom, a red light goes on and then ping and poof and the hot-water tank starts purring like a contented cat. The outside vent lets off a little steam as it gurgles happily along. After about ten minutes, my shower awaits. The water is just the right temperature and I always have enough.
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Old 08-04-2012, 02:24 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by CanoeStream
... Now ... is it Classics that have dual fuel LP/electric HWHs? Classic owners, what is the response time when you use electric only? Are they 15-amp? ...
I just looked at the spec sheet on mine. It is rated at 1400w (12.7-amp). I leave the electric turned on when plugged into park power unless we need to run the A/C a lot in hot weather. In my experience, electric only will supply the needs for washing dishes, hand washing, etc., but can come up short if taking a conventional shower and the cold water supply is particularly cold. For that reason we switch on the LP before showers to be sure the last rinse isn't chilly.
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Old 08-04-2012, 03:44 PM   #19
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Gene, our morning and night usage pattern is quite similar to yours.

overlander63 has spent significant time fulltiming in his Airstreams. Think I recall him once saying that he went months and longer before turning of his propane HWH. Never had a problem.
Biob, usually I can figure out a typo, but not this time—is the bold word "off" or "on"? I guess it is "on", but maybe he likes cold showers.

We turn on the water heater first thing in the morning. Turn it off as soon as we can—usually can wash dishes after it is off. At lunch time the water is still pretty hot. Then sometime in the evening we turn it on for dishwashing. We may take showers at any time of the day, so we may already have it on. Seems to take about 5 minutes to heat up. When daytime temps are in the mid 90's, we might not need to turn it on at all in the afternoon, but if we do, I'm sure it doesn't use use much propane.

During the shoulder seasons things are different, but by degrees. And sometimes the water source is really, really cold, and that also makes a difference.

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Old 08-04-2012, 04:22 PM   #20
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My baad... That should read:
overlander63 has spent significant time fulltiming in his Airstreams. Think I recall him once saying that he went months and longer before turning off his propane HWH. Never had a problem.
ie, he turned it on and left it on.

If we leave ours on during the day or night and never use hot water in the 'tween period, I find that it fires very little. The insulation doesn't look super great but it must be enough.
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