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Old 07-09-2007, 08:21 AM   #1
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tinybluetj
Hot Water Clarification

So I read through the HW heater thread, but I need some clarification. I am not sure as to whether my HW heater is broken or not; It runs great on Propane!

How do you turn the HW heater on electric? Do you just push the switch? When I push the electric switch, the water never heats up. Is there something else I need to do? I have even left it on overnight. Brrrr! If I turn on the propane, HW in a few minutes!

Is my HW heater broken?

PS-I have the Atwood 6 gal.
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Old 07-09-2007, 08:59 AM   #2
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Mine has an on/off switch for the electric on top of the tank. I access it through a hole in the bottom bunk. I also have a switch for the electric ignition for propane on the wall next to the tank level panel. Which switch do you mean?
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Old 07-09-2007, 09:26 AM   #3
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The switch I am fliping is on the 'control panel', it is right next to the propane switch. Is there another switch I am supposed to be flipping? I am not understanding the directions from the company.
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Old 07-09-2007, 09:34 AM   #4
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I hope this doesnt sound rude, but it the electric will only work if you are plugged into the 30amp outlet...aka Shore Power.

I know it sounds dumb, but the first time we went camping, we were boondocking and Cindy had turned the Electric Water Heater button on not paying attention and left it on for ten minutes. Jumped in the shower and the water was ice cold. It was November, so the water was the temperature of the air outside...It was snowing outside

Needless to say, she learned that unless we're plugged into Shore Power, or running our Inverter, the electric water heater makes for one very cold shower.

Pat
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Old 07-09-2007, 09:37 AM   #5
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Kathryn,

You shouldn’t have to do anything but turn the electric HW switch to on.

Some obvious questions:
> Are you connected to shore power (you need shore power to heat water on electric)?
> Are all breakers on?
> Have you checked for any loose wires at the HW tank?

Running the water heater on only electric you should have hot water within 30 minutes.

It sounds like you have a problem. It could be with the switch or the electric element of the HW Tank. It should still be covered under Atwood’s warrantee, so it might just be easier to have a dealer look at it. You could contact Atwood to see where they recommend you take it. Here’s a link to their contact web page. Explain what’s happening and what you’ve done. I’ve done this before and they get back to me within a day or two and they sent me to a dealer to have it looked at and repaired under warrantee. I took their email response to the dealer with me, just for back-up info.

Hope this helps some.
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Old 07-09-2007, 10:35 AM   #6
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Kathryn

To add to what Hutch has said, here are some pics.

1. Fill HW heater with water
2. Plug into 120 volt shore power.

3. Turn on the circuit breaker.




4. Turn on the tank panel electric HW switch.
Does your switch/ tank level panel look like this? Switch the HW electric on.


If your unit works on Gas, and steps 1 to 4 above are on, in 20 minutes you should have hot water. The same temperate controls on the newer Atwoods control the gas and the electric temp. controls. So all the safeties are working to allow the electric to energize and heat.


If you have done all these and still get no HW. You have a problem.

1. Possible loose wiring connection at the heater element or a bad power relay. I would only go in to this area if you are friendly with electrical wiring trouble shooting.


2. Most likely
Some one has turned on the electric by accident with no water in the tank and burnt the heater element apart. This can happen in a matter of minutes and you will never know.

And it looks like this. Pic compliments of Ms. Kitty


We always turn off the circuit breaker after camping as a second level of protection in case the tank level switch was switched on by accident with no water in the tank and that we do not burn out the heater element. If your element is burned out, the correction is not that complex and your dealer can help you easiest if you cannot do this.

Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

John
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:56 AM   #7
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Thanks guys!

Yep! Looks like we have an issue. I will contact Atwood today to have someone look at it!

Just to make sure, how do you "fill the HW tank"? (I am now thinking maybe I broke it ) I thought the water went into the heater when you turned on a hot faucet?
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Old 07-10-2007, 08:31 AM   #8
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Kathryn,

Do you have a HW Tank bypass valves?

Make sure the bypass valves are not set to bypass the HW tank.

Hooking up to city water will automatically fill up the HW tank or turning on the water pump will also fill up the HW tank with water (if you have sufficient water in the fresh water tank).

You don’t have to turn on a faucet to fill up the tank – you just need to have the bypass valves set properly.

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Old 07-10-2007, 08:34 AM   #9
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But if the Propane works, then wouldn't the tank be full?
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Old 07-10-2007, 08:36 AM   #10
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Very good point - you are right
I forgot about the minor detail
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Old 07-10-2007, 08:58 AM   #11
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Well I guess that is good news- bad news!
Bad- something is wrong.
Good- I didn't do it! it is probably under warranty!
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Old 07-10-2007, 10:48 AM   #12
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Kathyrn

This is what I do to fill the hot water heater before turning on any gas or electric.

Like Hutch said, make sure the bypass is set right to allow water to enter the HW heater at the start of the season.

When running off the fresh tank, I prime the system. To do this with water in the tank, I open the furthest sink faucet on the hot side from the HW heater. In my case it is the bath sink and so the water splatter does not make such a mess like the kitchen one. The water pump will run for several minutes with nothing but air coming out the faucet. Then eventually the water starts to spit out and once flowing, I shut off the hot and then bleed the cold. Once done the pump stops and I go the kitchen sink. I get a quick spurt of air, makes a mess and then water on both hot and cold. The system is then primed.

When I’m running off the fresh tank, I actually prime the system right while I am filing up the tank. Once about ˝ full, I prime the system then top off the tank. It takes about 7 gallons to prime the system which drain a large amount off the fresh tank. This way I have most water I can in the camper system.

It is then safe to turn on gas or electric on the HW heater.

When running off the city water, I still do the same system prime, it just may happens quicker depending on CG water pressure.

Turing on the propane to the HW heater with no water, is not great either. While the system has safety overheating switches, it is not great to heat the heat flow tube with no water on the backside. Running long enough is not good and bad things will come from this. As a firing test to see if the propane works for a few seconds, this is not so much an issue, but burning minutes will be.

Now to your warranty. Hopefully you will come out OK. However if the element is found to be burnt out, there is only one way this happens on a new system. It was what they call “dry fired” with no water in it. It may of even happened at the dealership before you ever took the unit. It is so easy to do by accident. That is why they now have the circuit breaker in the breaker box so handy so you turn it off when the heater is empty.

Good luck and let us know how you made out.

John
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Old 07-10-2007, 11:02 AM   #13
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Hey Kathryn,

OH, how well I know the no hot water off the electric. "IF" the heating element got turned on for even just a minute with an empty tank, sorry but, IT'S TOAST ! It takes no time at all to burn out the element. If you follow the thread I'm linking to, you'll see my W/H element replacement. The actual replacement isn't the hard part, it's accessing the back of the W/H. Honestly, before I'd take it to a dealer, I think I'd try to replace the element. "THEN" if you still had no hot water, I'd take it to the dealer, and you could tell them it is not working and you had already put in a new element and made "SURE" there was water in the tank before it was turned on.

This brings a thought to my mind. With the W/H drain hose that John B and Jon and I installed on our units, all we have to do is open the hose valve to see if water runs out. Hum, just might be a nice safety feature, as I don't want to have to get to the W/H again any time SOON!!!




Good Luck,
Kitty


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Old 07-10-2007, 09:02 PM   #14
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AHH KITTY! THE LIGHT CAME ON!!!!!


Reading your post reminds me. When we picked up the Que, they flipped the electric switch on to show us it worked ("see, the light comes on, it works")Andrew remembers flipping the switch off before we left. (we had never had a HW heater before, so we figured that the RV place would know! )

When we got home, we had to flush the antifreeze out of the system. Now I realize!!!! If I had to flush antifreeze out of the system, then wasn't there antifreze in heater, and therfore no water in it?

We had never turned the HW heater on without being hooked up to city water. Grrrr Well, I will try your suggestion Kitty! THANKS!!!!
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