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Old 06-16-2019, 01:54 PM   #1
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Advice for replacing Atwood hot water heater

My 6 gallon Atwood hot water heat seems to have a leak in the actual tank. I was dewinterizing, pumping chlorinated water into the system for the first timei this year, when I turned the bypass valves to put water into the how water tank, water started streaming out the bottom. It was briefly flowing through my trailer like a river

I haven't taken it out to examine it yet. This happend when I was going camping the next day. I bypassed the hot water heater all together by connecting the hot and cold water lines. I won't have any hot water for camping, but at least I will have running cold water.

I would like some advice on how easy it is to replace the hot water heater. It doesn't look to bad. Remove the old one, put in the new one, connect water and propane lines....

I was planning on getting a replacement of the same thing. Amazon has it here. I was thinking of replacing the whole thing since its 25+ years old and somewhat corroded. Any other options?

I was planning on doing it myself to save labor costs and unit markup from a dealer. I have found some youtube videos with info. Any particularly good ones I should look at or use?

Bonus info: My wife and I had just completed countless hours of work removing our old vinyl flooring. We installed new press and stick wood grain flooring. Only a couple hours after completing this, the water began to flow over it.
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Old 06-16-2019, 02:26 PM   #2
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If you look back to last year I had a split in my tank as well.
I was fortunate to have a readily available certified aluminum welding shop and a friend did the patch for free!
I looked at several options at the time and replacing the tank or while unit is not hard if you have basic plumbing and handyman skills.
Sounds like you caught it quickly before any excessive damage was done to the floor etc
I would suggest you have/use crimp on plumbing fittings due to the sort of right spaces you are generally confined into with locations of water heaters in travel trailers.
My experience prompted me to add an access door for water system maintenance under the bed!
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Old 06-16-2019, 09:27 PM   #3
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Replacing the water heater is not that hard. I will pass along some tips to help the learning curve

1. Open the heater door outside. You should see a series of small hex head screws most likely (1/4" hex) around the perimeter. They hold the fridge to the camper wall.

2. You unhook the gas line and push the pipe back through the rubber grommet.

3. Unhook the piping on he back side.

This pic is from a combo electric and gas one, while the one you linked is an all gas unit but they should mount the same.


4. Take the hex head screws out. Then using a heat gun or hair dryer, warm the outer flange where the screws are. This will warm up the old putty tape and help it become unstuck from the siding.

You may need a stiff blade metal putty knife. Dull all edges on the blade, sand, file, grind etc so it will not scratch the siding and will not melt if heated. Slide it under the warmed putty, work your way around and slowly and gently pull the heater out. It is a "just fit" in the camper hole.

5. Clean up the siding and get any old putty tape off the siding. You can use mineral spirits on a rag to wipe any left of small traces of stuck on putty tape. A plastic scraper will get the big chucks off and not scratch the siding. When you get it all off, use a high flash cleaner to get any residue of the mineral spirits off.(very important to do) If all you have is rubbing alcohol that will work. Lacquer thinner, Naphtha are also choices that will not lift the paint. Do not use acetone it will lift the paint.

5A, try a dry test fit of the new heater to make sure it all fits in the hole. A lot of years has gone by since yours was made.

6. Get new fresh "butyl" sealing tape. 1/8" thick by ideally 1" wide. 3/4" wide might work if you cannot get the 1". Clean the new heater flange with the high flash cleaner to get any shipping dirt or grime off. Apply the butyl to the heater flange and leave the release paper on it at this point.

7. Get 1 or 2 ice picks or finishing nails if that is all you have. Use these to poke 1 hole in the LH and the RH side of the heater mounting flange and through the butyl tape. These will be line up pins sticking out of the new heater flange so you can line them up in the holes in the siding.

8. Put the heater back in the hole and stop about 2" to 3" short of the flange touching the siding. Peel off the release liner off the butyl tape. You can warm a little the siding and the butyl to help it slide some when it touches the camper. You do not need a lot of heat.

9. Slowly push the heater in, line up the nails/ice picks to the siding holes. When you are about 1/2" way, that is about your last chance to shift it up/down or left to right. When you line up, press the heater to the siding. It will be "stick/stuck" in place.

10. Add the screws and get them all in and stop about 1/8" to 1/4" before tightening them. Then you know all the screws are in and lined up, you can start tightening them. The butyl may ozz out the sides and that's OK. When done, use a plastic scraper and trim the excess butyl off flush with the outer flange.

Also see that same heater you linked on Etrailer a little cheaper and free freight https://www.etrailer.com/RV-Water-He...Atwood%2096110

I have bought many times from them and had a positive experience. The thing I'm pointing out, the Etrailer shows the entire flange mounting kit and the cover. The Amazon one does not. Have no idea if the Amazon one includes the mounting flanges and cover or not.

Have you thought about upgrading to the electronic ignition? Your all gas unit for sure works, just you need to light it each time you use it. It is your choice and the electronic ignition one does cost some more as it has controls with it. You would have to add the 12 volts and the switch for the electronic ignition.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 06-17-2019, 06:17 AM   #4
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Thanks so much for such a detailed reply! This really puts my mind at ease knowing that this is a doable repair that won't cost too much (relatively speaking). When I return from my current camping trip, I will probably get a LP model from etrailer and follow your steps for replacement. I was confused about the door/no door being included. I only camp a few times a year so lighting it each time isn't a problem. Plus, I don't want to have to wire a new circuit to it. Once again, thanks for taking the time to post such good directions!
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Old 06-17-2019, 10:12 AM   #5
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Your very welcome.

Let us know how you make out when the time comes.
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Old 07-01-2019, 02:42 PM   #6
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I got my replacement LP only hot water heater from etrailer. It was a good deal, included the cover, styrofoam insulation and flange. Arrived in good shape. Although it was a dometic instead of an Atwood, it was the exact same dimensions and fit fine.

I installed it according to the great directions earlier in this thread and everything went well. I now have a fucntioning hot water heater again.

A few comments to add:

1. When i was initially removing the old one, I had a really hard time getting it out. Then I noticed there was one screw remaining. It was hidden and mostly covered in gunk. Make sure you take out ALL the screws first.

2. The hardest part was disconnecting the gas line. I guess it has been stuck in place for a quarter of a century! I used some WD40 and then it came off pretty easily.

3. I had a bypass kit on my old one, I saved it and used it on the new one. I put it on before the put the new heater in. The other water connections were easy to do afterwards since I could access the space from the bottom bunk. There was a good amount of room to work, I don't think every camper arrangement is so good in this respect.

4. I bought a 30' roll of butyl tape, now I have plenty left for the next catastrophe...

5. I especially think using a pick or nail to push through the butyl tape into the old holes as a pilot or guide was a great idea. With that, it seemed like all the screws lined up into the old holes.

Thanks for all the help!
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Old 07-03-2019, 06:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kkeduda View Post
Although it was a dometic instead of an Atwood, it was the exact same dimensions and fit fine.
Glad everything worked out. Great! and thanks for reporting back.

As FYI. Dometic out Atwood Mobile a while ago. They did sell off the Atwood power tongue jacks to Lippert. Then Lippert decided to discitione the jack line.

Now if you get new stock, all Atwood spare parts and from your water heater purchase, the new appliances are coming with the Dometic branding on them.
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