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Old 11-09-2017, 04:37 PM   #1
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Slow Water Heater Recovery

Iím not sure if I have a water heater problem or this is normal:

When my wife takes a shower and we have full hookups, I would expect the water heater to be running by the time sheís finished (she likes hot showers). But it isnít. If I want to shower shortly after her all I have is lukewarm water. Iíve gone outside and turned up the thermostat and it doesnít fire. Itís gotten so I turn on a hot water faucet full blast and eventually the water heater kicks in. Normal?

Itís an Atwood water heater with a White Rodgers control, strictly gas.
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Old 11-10-2017, 08:00 AM   #2
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I don't quite get why it's not firing kind of leans towards the temp control but the silly thing only heats 6 gallons so back to back showers ain't going to happen.
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Old 11-10-2017, 01:52 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mainah View Post
but the silly thing only heats 6 gallons so back to back showers ain't going to happen.
^^^^^^This

We've struggled to do two relatively back to back, with running both gas and electric at the same time. Sometimes I've just sucked it up and taken it cold.
But the key is, you really have to conserve water. If you go in to take a shower like you do at home, you won't even make it through one without it going cold.
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Old 11-10-2017, 04:04 PM   #4
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I realize itís only 6 gallons and we canít take back to back showers. Just seems odd it wouldnít be firing after a shower.
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Old 11-10-2017, 04:30 PM   #5
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I'll add a few things to maybe help the cause, or try to explain it anyway.

We have the newer style Atwood 6 gallon water heater. It has a preset thermostat that mounts on the outside of the tank and is non adjustable.

It is set to shut off at 140F. When the tank cycles down to 115F, it will turn back on. I have never measured those temps but that is what the good book says the T Stat has been preset too.

The 140F can never be used alone as a hot water source to shower with as it will burn you pretty good if you try. This has been talked about a lot on "why so hot?" The answer I was always given was, to make the hot water supply last longer. And in our case it does. We have to blend in cold water to temper it down to not scold you.

We have also put in an Oxygenics shower head (the head, not their stiff hose that comes with it) which uses less water and we installed a single on/off shut off valve in the hose that actually does shut off and not drizzle cold water...

When we started to boondock we had to create ways to be a economizer on everything and not waste so much of, well everything. Water, electricity you name it. On the water side, the combo of the better shower head and the on/off valve in the hose along with a water conserving method allows the wife and I to both a shower back to back without issue. We have never run out of hot water taking 2 showers. We do this all the time.

When we take a shower, we do what is sometimes nicknamed, a Navy shower. You wet yourself, shut off the water. Soap lather up, then rinse if one needs a small area rinsed and shut off the water. Add shampoo as needed, then do a full body rinse and your done.

What I described above works for us and is very comfortable, just you cannot let the water run non stop through your entire showering process.

Now to maybe a few technical things since what Johnnybgood has is different then our system.

He has an "adjustable" T stat, what is it adjusted too? If it is turned down to 110 or 120 max as that is common house hold hot water, then there is very little cold added and the amount of hot water needed will be more to shower with. Understanding 140F can burn you, and you must temper it, does allow to use less hot water.

Next is the mechanical differences. Our T stat is on the outside of the tank. It has it's own set of issues as it has to touch the tank to get a good reading and most times this works OK. On johnnybgoods setup he has an all mechanical system with the gas valve. The exact valve that John has if it is original, I do not think they sell any more, but it can be replaced with an upgraded one. We need to get into model and serial numbers to confirm this but I "believe" this one will replace it. There are a lot of good pics of this this one which is why I'm, linking it. This replaces the White Rogers valve.

Atwood Water Heater 91602 Gas Control Valve Thermostat - Parts & Accessories - RV Water Heaters - RV Appliances

The thermowell on the back of the valve screws into the water heater. That thermowell is directly exposed/submersed in the water. Hard water creates a lot of scale and mineral build up inside water heaters and his may have a good layer of it on the thermowell making getting a good reading not real easy. I myself do not know if up'ing the T stating on the outside will totally overcome the problem as if the probe cannot sense a temp change very fast, it cannot react fast either if it is insulated with high lime/calcium build up.

I do no recall us having a SOC member post on the valve not working right due to high scale issues, of if so, it may not be that common. This might not be John's issues, but just bringing it up as it is technically a possibility.

John, now reading all this, does any of this seem to fit in your case?

Hope this helps

John
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Old 11-10-2017, 04:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnybgood View Post
I realize itís only 6 gallons and we canít take back to back showers. Just seems odd it wouldnít be firing after a shower.
Ours, again the newer setup, does fire up after/during a shower. Towards the end for sure. Maybe the calcium/line buildup is pretty bad in yous and is insulating the thermowell?

They can be removed and inspected. Soaking the probe in vinegar might help. It may take a long time to eat through if the build up is really bad.

Also, heads up, if that is the original valve, it may not want to come out of the water heater in a very cooperative way. It may be jammed dead tight and gall up the threads in the process. You may be in for a new valve trying to get the old one out. The one I linked above was $100.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 11-11-2017, 06:31 PM   #7
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Yes, very informative John. That makes sense about the higher temperature setting giving you, in effect, more hot water.

My thermostat is currently at the factory setting, which is a non scalding temperature according to my manual.

Iíd be surprised if the thermowell wasnít caked with deposits.

I looked at it today and it doesnít really look like a fun job.

Thanks to all!
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Old 01-17-2018, 05:01 PM   #8
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Just an update on this thread.

Iíve decided not to replace the gas control valve thermostat that John linked above. While I believe it would fix my problem, Iím going to see what happens next season. If it gets to be too much of a nuisance Iím going to replace the whole thing. I feel a 22 year old water heater is getting past its prime and Iíve read stories about the tank itself springing a leak. Looks like I can get one for less than $300.
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Old 01-17-2018, 05:14 PM   #9
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Hi John,

Good thoughts. If you plan to keep the camper, replacing the whole thing is good thought. One never knows what the prior owner did on annual cleaning maintenance of the tank. They need a good flush out every spring. All the scale and minerals get built up and can create corrosion in some cases.

22 years is not bad service from the heater. I have yet to ever have a home one last that long.
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Old 01-17-2018, 05:56 PM   #10
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22 years is not bad service from the heater. I have yet to ever have a home one last that long.

Exactly!

And your home water heater is sitting still all the time. Kudos to Atwood.
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Old 06-22-2019, 03:41 PM   #11
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Update on this old thread.....

We sold the 1996 T-1700 last year without doing anything to the water heater and purchased a 2000 T2370 that had the same slow recovery. I did the vinegar clean out thatís discussed in another thread (canít seem to locate the thread) and allís good. Weíre on our first camping trip since the tank clean out, the wife showered and the tank fired back up before she was finished showering. Iím definitely on board for doing it once a year. Thanks to all!!
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Old 06-23-2019, 06:17 PM   #12
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I can take a shower with mine and it's fine all the hot I need yes it does come on after the shower and I'm usually the only one taking a shower but there is no way I could jump back in for round two. It takes a good 10-15 minutes to reheat with no water use but what I have found the little pilot light overnight will actually make the water hotter than the heater itself because it in unregulated and has 8 hours. If you do the math the incoming cold in a 6 gallon heater is not sustainable for very long. My hot start home boiler will cycle during a shower and it's heater has a huge amount more BTU!
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Old 06-27-2019, 09:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnybgood View Post
Update on this old thread.....

We sold the 1996 T-1700 last year without doing anything to the water heater and purchased a 2000 T2370 that had the same slow recovery. I did the vinegar clean out thatís discussed in another thread (canít seem to locate the thread) and allís good. Weíre on our first camping trip since the tank clean out, the wife showered and the tank fired back up before she was finished showering. Iím definitely on board for doing it once a year. Thanks to all!!
Hi John,

Great news the vinegar boil out helped. I did 3 of them on different campers this spring and they all greatly helped on the slow recovery. I'm sold on it now.

This may have been the reply you were thinking of. The vinegar treatment was a major factor in correcting a very slow recovering water heater. Atwood MPD 93756 not turning off

Thanks for reporting back
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