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Old 07-09-2012, 06:01 AM   #1
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Water heater depth

I need to replace my water heater. I have a 4 gallon one now that came stock with the coach, but it's dead. I was going to go with a 6 gallon, as the item description is a depth of 19 3/8, but I can only go about 22", or would have to move the converter, which I do NOT want to do. The exiting unit occupies a depth of about 18" including the plumbing lines attached to the back.

How would I extend the gray water lines if I go with a deeper unit? Is there some way to just splice in some additional line, or should I just replace the unit with a stock 4 gallon heater, and save myself a bunch of trouble? I'm already asking for trouble, because the one I'm going to get is electric ignition, so I need to wire a switch inside...

I would be very interested in folk's ideas! Thanks!

Frank
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Old 07-09-2012, 09:08 AM   #2
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Frank, I'd go with what is in there now. Saves a lot of frustrations, time and money.
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Old 07-09-2012, 09:19 AM   #3
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Apparently my problem is finding one. I'll look more tonight. The thing is, this is not critical. While the AC isn't critical, it sure is going to be nice, and should be installed and running by week's end. I pick the unit up tonight (right after yet another visit to the dentist).

So if the water heater isn't critical, I almost think I would like to figure out how to upgrade to the 6 gallon. I'm gonna figure it out somehow I guess. Maybe shark bite fittings for hose extensions?

Thanks!

Frank
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Old 07-09-2012, 06:51 PM   #4
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So I ordered a Suburban 6 gallon water heater (SW6D), a new polar white door, and an electronic switch for the water heater. My cup runneth over...

When I get the unit, I will figure this stuff out. I will have questions! Tonight I'm studying the AC installation manual.

Frank
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Old 07-10-2012, 01:17 AM   #5
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I'm not familiar with the Atwood 4 gallon models, I actually didn't realize they existed, but if it's a standard Atwood door/opening, the Suburban model will be different.

They are very close in size of the opening, but I'm not sure exactly how close. Have you found dimensions anywhere? I'm pretty sure the Suburban is designed for a smaller hole, so you'd have to fill the hole in rather than cut it larger.

My only personal complaint with the Suburbans is that they require the use of anode rods. If you drain your water heater (by removing said rod) after every trip, you should get a lot of use out of one rod. But if water sits on it all the time, it'll disintegrate quicker. The Atwood heaters have a specially designed tank where the metal doesn't break down with the water, so those don't need the rod to break down first. The anode rod acts as the drain plug just like the plastic plug in the Atwood.
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Old 07-10-2012, 03:53 AM   #6
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Gee, you have to be kidding me. Different companies that make rv water heaters use different size openings? Wow, I bet I screwed up. That will give me something to think about over the next week while I wait for this thing to come. Once the order is placed with this company, you can't cancel it, so right now I'm locked in till it gets here, then will probably have to send it back. Oh well, one step ahead, two steps back!

Thanks for the heads up Jon, I had no idea. I sure do appreciate the info.

Frank
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Old 07-10-2012, 08:33 AM   #7
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Aha! Found my plumbing pic...

If all I have to do is make a smaller hole, I am sure there is a way to do that. Cutting a bigger hole would be a job, but I suppose I could do that too.

Anyways, here's a good pic of the plumbing in the very back of my old tank. Those brass fittings have valves on them, and I have no clue if they're open or closed. Looks like the plumbing on the left in the pic will need to be shortened or just bunched up?), and the plumbing on the right lengthened. I ran this pic off on our color printer and will take it into a hardware store, see what they might suggest. I assume the shortening would not be a problem, but I don't have a clue. Are the gray fittings some kind of compression fittings? they don't look like anything I'm familiar with. Plus I wonder what the deal is with that white cross-over tube?

Any suggestions, answers, other help of any kind greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Frank
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Old 07-10-2012, 08:43 AM   #8
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Frank:

The white hose is a bypass kit, I'm assuming the bottom brass tee is also a quarter turn valve? If so, when the valve handles are both pointing/in-line with the white hose the tank is bypassed. i.e. the water goes through the white hose instead of into the tank. This is a winterization option that allows you to drain the tank and just run the antifreeze through the pipes, thus saving four gallons of the pink stuff. IN normal operations, both valves should be in line with the grey pipe and tank.

I beleive the grey pipe is called PEX and the fittings are compression. JohnB and EMDDriver both have extensive experience and I'm sure will be along with advice on that soon

Mack
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Old 07-10-2012, 09:08 AM   #9
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Thanks Mack! That is very helpful info, I sure do appreciate it. Now to wait for JohnB and EMDDriver to pipe in (no puns intended there...). I am a busy guy, want to get the AC on the trailer tomorrow night and then get the water heater thing figured out. Next I have a 1946 Old Town canoe for a project...

Enjoy your day sir.

Frank
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Old 07-10-2012, 09:43 AM   #10
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One thing...especially with an electric heater....make sure the valves are set to the tank position and the tank is full before turning on the electric heater. A dry tank will fry the electric element almost instantaneously!!! Just be aware, If the tank is bypassed (valve handles in-line with white hose) you will get water at the hot taps (sink,shower,etc.) thorugh the bypass, but still have a dry tank.

A SHARPIE is very handy for marking the positions!!!

Mack
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Old 07-10-2012, 09:47 AM   #11
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I probably gonna have a bunch of dumb questions here Mack, so here's the 1st one - how do I know if the tank is full?

I got Sharpies, no problem. I'll no doubt be using them when I do the install. In the meantime, I'm saving all this info, simply because I'm not so much a sharpie...

Thanks again!

Frank
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Old 07-10-2012, 10:05 AM   #12
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Frank:

If the tank is empty, you'll probably hear the water flowing into the tank and you'll get air in the hot water line until it's full. If you're using the pump and tank the pump will run for three to five minutes while the tank fills. The easiest way to positively check, is to carefully (it's going to be under pressure) open the pressure relief valve on the door side of the heater. It's the valve with the blue ring around it in this picture. Carefully pull up on the silver handle and water will come out of valve. When you are draining your tank, if you open this valve (pull the silver handle up, it will lock in place) it will drain much quicker.

BTW- Tank bypasses can be confusing, they were done about four different ways.

Mack

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Old 07-10-2012, 10:10 AM   #13
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Boy, great info Mack! I'll keep you posted as I move along. Never had a trailer with a water system, hot water heater, toilet, etc,. so just learning all I can every darn day. I sure do appreciate the advice.

Frank
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Old 07-10-2012, 01:36 PM   #14
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Atwood 4-6 gal hole: 12-5/8" high x 16-1/4" wide x 17-5/8" deep http://www.atwoodmobile.com/manuals/...2011.19.07.pdf

Suburban 6 gal hole: 12-3/4" high x 12-3/4" wide x 19-3/4" deep
Suburban Water Heaters on Sale - PPL Motor Homes
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Old 07-10-2012, 02:47 PM   #15
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Hmm, so I have to figure out how to nicely fill some space! Gee, I thought I measured that and was fine, obviously NOT! I feel dumb, but will still plow ahead. Thanks for the info.

Actually I see I was not measuring the correct dimension here. I'll go measure the inside, which should more approximate the hole.

Out I go to remove the vent and clean what I imagine is a bunch of old butyl tape. Gotta get ready for AC install tomorrow.

Frank
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Old 07-10-2012, 04:32 PM   #16
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Looking at the Suburban water heater I checked the video. One thing to consider is that with Suburban the doors are sold by themselves. Didn't see that problem on the Atwood. Still should ask if the heater is complete or if there are accessories.
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Old 07-10-2012, 05:10 PM   #17
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Before I ordered the heater, I emailed Adventure RV to ask what they recommended for the inside electric switch and a door, then took their recommendations and got everything I needed from them. Now I have to figure out what it the best looking way to install a smaller dimension heater, i.e. what should I surround it with to look good from the outside?

Frank
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Old 07-13-2012, 05:44 AM   #18
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Got all my new stuff in yesterday, water heater, switch (2 of them!) and new door. I wonder what will happen when I unhook the old one? I know enough to turn off the gas, but wonder if I will end up with water leaking all over the place?

Need to find some Qest fittings, tubing or something that will adapt. Will get on that quest today (no pun intended).

Frank
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