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Old 11-28-2017, 08:21 AM   #1
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Hot Water Heater TP valve

So like I mentioned in my modification thread, our last camping trip we had a slight issue with the temperature/pressure relief valve popping on our camper's hot water heater... Now as a former plumber I am very familiar with HW heaters and TP valves, however as a newbie to campers I'm not 100% sure how everything works... Are the TP valves in the camper the same as the ones in your house? Can I just go to a local hardware store and buy a new one? Or are they specifically set for campers which means I have to go to an RV dealer and buy one... Honestly I am also toying with the idea of just getting rid of the one we have and replacing it with an electric tankless hot water heater... The couple of times we have taken our Sunny out since we bought it in August I have never trusted nor felt comfortable with that thing, something about a small 28 year old jet engine going off directly under my bed doesn't sit well with me... I only ever light it just before the wife is getting ready to do dishes or take a shower, and even then I stand outside right next to it and shut it off once she is done... It is strictly propane, I guess the dual source heaters didn't come until after 1989, lol... I know that if I go with a strictly electric heater that would present a problem if I ever go "dry camping", but honestly I have no intention of ever do that, lol... Just wanted to ask quick about the TP valve though incase I just want to replace that for now before I start the project of replacing the whole thing... Thanks
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Old 11-28-2017, 09:13 AM   #2
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The safety valves are the same but most hardware stores won't have them because they are 1/2" not 3/4. Can't say they all are but the ones I have replaced were. I like my heater once it's been lit and cycles the next morning I have plenty of hot water often warmer than the thermostat just from the pilot light. The tankless ones to me if you are running off your water tank what's the sense of having endless hot water if you only have 25 gallons to heat? They ain't cheap either! Will an electric one keep up with demand or just ware out the power meter bearings trying?
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Old 11-28-2017, 10:28 AM   #3
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I guess that is my other question/issue, my current heater has no temperature setting on it, only off-pilot-on, so once it is lit it just runs and never shuts off... Should it? Is there a pre-set thermostat in the gas valve itself that should be shutting it off???

A tankless hot water heater doesn't use the current heater tank at all, I would actually remove it to make room under my bed for the tankless unit... Tankless hot water heaters are an insta hot type system meaning once you turn the hot valve on on your sink and water flows through it it just heats up that water as it flows through the system, then when you shut the valve off it turns off... We have one in our house and I love it, would never go back to a tank system...

I have looked at them online and depending on what size I go with they aren't to to bad... I haven't completely committed to the idea yet, however I do need to figure something out because I don't like that we don't have an electric option and beings it is an older camper, the open flame under the bed makes us nervous...
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Old 11-28-2017, 05:59 PM   #4
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It may or may not have a temp control if it does it pretty well hidden behind the control itself it's a small lever hard to see but fairly easy to feel. Yes I understand the tankless heaters been in Europe for decades but if they run on 120 volts they are going to suck up lots of power the one's I have seen are 3.5 KW that requires a 30 amp circuit hard to find in a camper. The burner shuts down but the pilot stays lit I have found that's enough to keep the water warm overnight from dead cold mine will be usable in less than 20 minutes. Maybe something like this would solve your dilemma for a lot less money. Hott Rod Water Heater Conversion Kit - 6 Gallon - Diamond HR6 - Water Heaters - Camping World
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Old 11-28-2017, 07:00 PM   #5
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What is the model number of your water heater? Something does not sound right. It should cycle off the main burner when it reaches temp.

The gas valve on the older ones ran the entire show. There was a probe that went into the tank that sensed the temperature. The valve itself may be bad OR the probe in the tank is so covered with hard water minerals it can't sense the temp. And yes some of the older ones had a sliding lever on the back side of the valve for adjusting temperature. With a model number we can look up what you have to talk better on your exact one. And unscrewing that thermal well may be a challenge with it being so old. That is an aluminum tank and lot of years with corrosion the threads may gall up trying to get it out. Since you know plumbing, I'm sure you can handle it, just the end result is the tank is in real trouble when you get it out.

To your situation, we have one of the never Atwood water heaters, better controls, electronic ignition and built in electric element with a power relay to turn the electric on and off electric and then you can have a 12 volt remote on/off switch for the electric and the gas. It works well and it does allow us to boondock with no power.

And yes, I too would shut the water heater off when not using it, especially if it was under my bed and I was trying to sleep. With the remote on/off switches it is easy to just turn the thing off.

Hope this helps

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Old 11-29-2017, 08:56 AM   #6
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John I was able to pull my cover up enough to open the HWH door and got a picture of both the ID plate and the valve for you... Now that y'all mentioned the lever I now see it on the top of the valve... Obviously I didn't know it was there so I have never touched it, but using the old logic of you read left to right, isn't it set at the lowest setting??? Which would definitely mean that the temperature sensor is shot if the TP valve blew on us last trip... There appears to be a "pipe" coming off the back of the valve going into the tank, I have to assume that is the sensor? Or at least where the sensor is located???

If I am able to locate parts to basically rebuild this heater instead of spending a few hundred on a new one I would probably prefer to do that, if the components aren't frozen on like you said from age, rust, and calcium build up...
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File Type: jpg ID Plate.jpg (144.0 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg Valve.jpg (75.2 KB, 3 views)
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Old 11-29-2017, 09:50 AM   #7
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One trick to drain the tank and refill it is to open the relief valve they are not really intended to be used as a valve I believe I would replace the valve first they are cheap. You can always test the hot water with a thermometer and adjust accordingly.
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Old 11-29-2017, 10:53 AM   #8
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One trick to drain the tank and refill it is to open the relief valve they are not really intended to be used as a valve I believe I would replace the valve first they are cheap. You can always test the hot water with a thermometer and adjust accordingly.
I am definitely replacing the TP valve because it popped on our last trip and I remember from my plumbing days those valves are a 1 trick pony, once they go off they need to be replaced...
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Old 11-29-2017, 01:52 PM   #9
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Well now that JohnB motivated me to go and look at the ID plate and get the model # and such for my heater and now that I know it is an Atwood, I just did a little research online and realized I could basically rebuild my heater with a new gas valve, TP valve, and thermocouple for under 100 bucks, so now I think that is the route I am going to go... Although I would really love to have an electric option, to update my 1989 with that option is a huge investment, one that is bigger then I am willing to make on a camper we will probably only have for a few more years before we upgrade to something a little bigger...
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Old 11-29-2017, 02:52 PM   #10
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John I was able to pull my cover up enough to open the HWH door and got a picture of both the ID plate and the valve for you...

Now that y'all mentioned the lever I now see it on the top of the valve... Obviously I didn't know it was there so I have never touched it, but using the old logic of you read left to right, isn't it set at the lowest setting??? Which would definitely mean that the temperature sensor is shot if the TP valve blew on us last trip...

There appears to be a "pipe" coming off the back of the valve going into the tank, I have to assume that is the sensor? Or at least where the sensor is located???

If I am able to locate parts to basically rebuild this heater instead of spending a few hundred on a new one I would probably prefer to do that, if the components aren't frozen on like you said from age, rust, and calcium build up...
OK we have some more to go on now. You have a Atwood model G6A6. Your vintage has a White Rogers gas valve.

I am going to link you some tech links stored in our files section. Up on top of the page is a tab called "FILES" click in and in there is a lot of good stuff. Appliance manuals, brochures etc.

First, here is the operating/install cut sheet on the all gas water heater. You have to be logged in to down load.
Sunline Coach Owner's Club - Sunline Owner's Files - Atwood LP Gas Water Heater Installation, Maintenan

It does talk about the White Rogers valve temperature control lever on page 4. But it does not say which way to slide it. There "might" be a sticker on the top of the valve which way is which if it is still there and you can read it. In the tech manual the older all gas controls where settable between 70F to 140F. So if the lever is in the middle would be somewhere around 100 to 110F.

Regardless of where it was set, if you tripped the safety relief you either exceeded 210F or 150 psi.

You first stated the heater never shut off, so I did not tell you about the air pocket in the top of the heater thinking we had a run away burner. But maybe not, let compare notes.

Under normal conditions, a cold water heater on gas will take about 20 minutes to heat. 25 to 30 maybe if there is extra cold water or a lot of build up of minerals on the probe.

How long was the burner running before the safety tripped?

When the safety tripped, was it a weeping stream or a mega blast?

There are 2 ways normally to have the safety trip. Pressure and Temp.

Pressure: Since there is an inline check valve in the city water connection and there is a check valve in the water pump there is no place for the thermal expansion pressure from heating water to back up into "outside" the camper. The camper itself has to handle it. How they do this is by an air pocket in the top of the water heater. When you fill a dry system, it traps an air cushion pocket up there. It works good until the air pocket dissolves itself. Once that happens, then pressure on the piping will build until the heater shuts down or the safety relief lets go which ever comes first.

If you fill up the system from dry at the campground, then the air pocket is established and will last a good while, like a week or more with not much issues.

If you fill up the camper and water heater at home and tow to camp, bouncing down the road the air pocket can dissolve partly or completely. It is now luck, good or bad, if it is completely or partially dissolved. When the air pocket is about gone, water pressure will rise to point the pressure relief starts weeping. (yes you are nearing 150psi) The only way to stop it, is bleed out about 2 to 3 quarts of water in the heater, open the relief valve to let air in and re-pressurize. In our case, this happens a lot since we tow with fresh water. When ours water logs, my water pump will start banging real quick like the old time home well pump tanks with the air control messed up. (remember them? the days before air bladder tanks) I have a hose and valve on the water heater drain and it is quick and simple, safe to drain/burp and re-pressurize at camp.

Temperature. If the safety relief trips on temp it comes from too hot a water. Since I have one of the newer systems, there are 2 sets of thermal disc switches (An ECO and a T stat) to shut down the heating. I have never had a trip from heating. In your case with an all gas system, the gas valve never shut down "if" is was from temperature.

So, now armed with the pressure rise and the temp rise ability that can happen, which fits your situation better? Did you see lots of steam coming out or just water and how much? Or you have a little of both going on?

The White Rogers gas valve is no longer available. Here is the replacement. A, Atwood 91602 Robert Shaw valve. Atwood Water Heater 91602 Gas Control Valve Thermostat - Parts & Accessories - RV Water Heaters - RV Appliances

Amazon has it cheaper just no pics https://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&ke...l_1errf1a8l8_e

You can see by those pics the thermal well on the back of the unit that screws into the tank.

On PDF page 17 of this tech manual Sunline Coach Owner's Club - Sunline Owner's Files - Atwood 2007 Service and Training Manual

It takes about converting from the White Rogers to the Robert Shaw. You may have to change the 1/4 gas fitting on the inlet. And I don't know if your older thermocouple and pilot will work or not. You may have to upgrade that too. That is a Atwood 91603 Search results for: 'atwood 91603'

And Amazon again has it cheaper https://www.amazon.com/Atwood-91603-...s=atwood+91603

PDF page 41 shows the parts breakouts.

The PT relief, if yours is 1/2" that is 93601 https://www.amazon.com/Atwood-91604-...s=atwood+91604

If it is 3/4 NPT that is 90028 https://www.amazon.com/Atwood-90028-...s=atwood+90028

OK now armed with all this, If you think the gas valve let it run away, then maybe try and unscrew it out of there first. If it comes out OK and the threads are good, then buy parts. It will also give you a look at the build up on the thermal probe. If the threads are all galled up and the build up is real bad, well then consider an upgraded heater.

Odds may exist the prior owner did not rinse out the bottom of the heater every year. This is almost a mandate if you want the heater to work well a long time. Pull the drain plug, buy a rinser tube https://www.amazon.com/Camco-11691-W...er+tank+rinser

Or better make one from 1/4" or 3/8 copper tube with a shut off valve on it. Stick it in the drain port and hose it out good swirling all over. A lot of the loose white crud will bubble out the hole with the excess water. This is no different then a home water heater.

Hope this helps and let us now how you make out.

Thanks

John
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Old 11-29-2017, 03:04 PM   #11
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Well now that JohnB motivated me to go and look at the ID plate and get the model # and such for my heater and now that I know it is an Atwood, I just did a little research online and realized I could basically rebuild my heater with a new gas valve, TP valve, and thermocouple for under 100 bucks, so now I think that is the route I am going to go... Although I would really love to have an electric option, to update my 1989 with that option is a huge investment, one that is bigger then I am willing to make on a camper we will probably only have for a few more years before we upgrade to something a little bigger...
I was typing while you where researching....

Well my post still applies, let us know how it comes out.
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Old 11-29-2017, 06:20 PM   #12
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I was typing while you where researching....

Well my post still applies, let us know how it comes out.
What you mentioned about bleeding the air out makes sense and to honest I canít remember if i did that day or not... I can tell you though that you could have cooked spaghetti with the water that came out of the faucet after the TP valve popped...

Your amazon prices are a little bit better then the eBay prices I found, so like I mentioned for a 100 bucks I can basically rebuild my existing heater... For that price and for the age of the components current on the heater I think thatís the best bet, if not for safety then definitely for piece of mind... The next truck will be like you said, letís see if I can unscrew the gas valve first before I go ordering anything...
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Old 11-29-2017, 06:25 PM   #13
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Well now that JohnB motivated me to go and look at the ID plate and get the model # and such for my heater and now that I know it is an Atwood, I just did a little research online and realized I could basically rebuild my heater with a new gas valve, TP valve, and thermocouple for under 100 bucks, so now I think that is the route I am going to go... Although I would really love to have an electric option, to update my 1989 with that option is a huge investment, one that is bigger then I am willing to make on a camper we will probably only have for a few more years before we upgrade to something a little bigger...
Not sure where in PA you are but Damascus, MD is just south of the state line. The ad's a month old but as they say, "if the ad is still up..!"

Quote:
Atwood instant hot heater - $300 (Damascus)







This was pulled out of a unit very little use works perfectly fine comes with door website will give you the information was all serious offers or trades Atwood RV On Demand LP Tankless Water Heater 50k btu 90205 - $699..
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Old 11-29-2017, 07:07 PM   #14
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What you mentioned about bleeding the air out makes sense and to honest I canít remember if i did that day or not... I can tell you though that you could have cooked spaghetti with the water that came out of the faucet after the TP valve popped...

Your amazon prices are a little bit better then the eBay prices I found, so like I mentioned for a 100 bucks I can basically rebuild my existing heater... For that price and for the age of the components current on the heater I think thatís the best bet, if not for safety then definitely for piece of mind... The next truck will be like you said, letís see if I can unscrew the gas valve first before I go ordering anything...
OK I can get the "cooked spaghetti" analogy... It's hot!!!

And I fully agree with the rebuild for less then $100 bucks and piece of mind.

Hope that valve will unscrew without a lot of issues. Or the gas fitting will crush so you can peel it out of the tank threads.

Please report back how you make out. Curious on how that TP or gas valve will cooperate coming out.

Thanks

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Old 11-30-2017, 06:53 AM   #15
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If you are going to all of that trouble for about $100 more you can buy a brand new complete heater. I did not get the age of your camper but they all eventually rot out the bottom of the tank. The tank drain is not the low point so all of the stuff in the water ends up in the bottom of the tank very few people wash the tanks out. It is not unusual for campgrounds to pump water from streams or ponds add high acid levels and it's a recipe for corrosion. It would be a shame to go to a lot of work and expense only to have your tank spring a leak next year. Years ago I replaced a tank in a 87 MH it was not a lot of fun and I did not do my homework first so there I was with a shiny new tank and decades old control, burner,sheet metal etc when for about $30 more I could have bought a complete unit.
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Old 11-30-2017, 07:07 AM   #16
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If you are going to all of that trouble for about $100 more you can buy a brand new complete heater. I did not get the age of your camper but they all eventually rot out the bottom of the tank. The tank drain is not the low point so all of the stuff in the water ends up in the bottom of the tank very few people wash the tanks out. It is not unusual for campgrounds to pump water from streams or ponds add high acid levels and it's a recipe for corrosion. It would be a shame to go to a lot of work and expense only to have your tank spring a leak next year. Years ago I replaced a tank in a 87 MH it was not a lot of fun and I did not do my homework first so there I was with a shiny new tank and decades old control, burner,sheet metal etc when for about $30 more I could have bought a complete unit.
I hose drain my water heater with a little hose and some suction, after it drains completely. I've been doing this for years with the tank feeling very smooth. I did the tank on the '97 that way and not only was it kinda rough with corrosion, there was a lot of sediment getting sucked out.
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Old 11-30-2017, 07:27 AM   #17
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OK I can get the "cooked spaghetti" analogy... It's hot!!!

And I fully agree with the rebuild for less then $100 bucks and piece of mind.

Hope that valve will unscrew without a lot of issues. Or the gas fitting will crush so you can peel it out of the tank threads.

Please report back how you make out. Curious on how that TP or gas valve will cooperate coming out.

Thanks

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I will be sure to check back in and let you know how it is going... Right now my Sunny is covered and tucked away for the winter, however with the weather we have been having it can be 30 degrees and windy one day and then 55 degrees and sunny the next, so if we get a nice Saturday or Sunday I may pull the cover back and see about at least getting the old components out before I go ahead and order new ones... I will keep you posted...
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Old 11-30-2017, 07:29 AM   #18
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If you are going to all of that trouble for about $100 more you can buy a brand new complete heater. I did not get the age of your camper but they all eventually rot out the bottom of the tank. The tank drain is not the low point so all of the stuff in the water ends up in the bottom of the tank very few people wash the tanks out. It is not unusual for campgrounds to pump water from streams or ponds add high acid levels and it's a recipe for corrosion. It would be a shame to go to a lot of work and expense only to have your tank spring a leak next year. Years ago I replaced a tank in a 87 MH it was not a lot of fun and I did not do my homework first so there I was with a shiny new tank and decades old control, burner,sheet metal etc when for about $30 more I could have bought a complete unit.
My local auto parts store rents out small camera scopes, so my plan after I take off the old gas valve is to rent a camera and take a good look at the inside of the tank before I order new parts to make sure the tank is in decent shape or not...
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Old 11-30-2017, 07:46 AM   #19
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My local auto parts store rents out small camera scopes, so my plan after I take off the old gas valve is to rent a camera and take a good look at the inside of the tank before I order new parts to make sure the tank is in decent shape or not...
You can do that right now through the drain plug hole too...
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Old 11-30-2017, 01:04 PM   #20
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Worth a try but usually the holes a quite small and covered with crud.
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