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Old 06-14-2012, 10:59 AM   #1
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Some water heater talk

Hi everyone, just thought I would ask about a recent W/H issue we had while on the road. The model is a GC6AA 10E.

Stopped working in both electric and gas functions. No hot water, no sounds from the unit suggesting it was even trying to fire on gas...I tried cleaning the spiders out of that tube, they were in there too. I cleaned every contact I could access throught the outside door. I fooled around until finally I decided to give the Atwood guys a call. The tech said go outside and bypass the thermocouple which seemed so basic to me as to be unlikely to fix matters. He said do it! I took it out of the circuit as he said to, and I was back in action again, at least on gas anyway, since I haven't tried the electric yet. I'm close to the end of my trip so at home I can get more involved in exploring this.

In the mean time what can any of you W/H experts say about all this??

Thanks everyone.
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Old 06-14-2012, 07:37 PM   #2
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Not an expert but I will offer an opinion anyway.

I hear the thermocouple and/or the little resistor thing are common sources of problems. When either goes open it kills the 12 volts. My electric element is seperate from the gas but I understand some later models have a 12 volt relay that allows either gas or electric operation so without 12 volts you lose total operation. Does it look like this picture?
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File Type: jpg t-stat.jpg (93.5 KB, 1 views)
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Old 06-14-2012, 08:24 PM   #3
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Gene, yes pretty similar if not the same. I wonder if I can just leave it bypassed without cauing some other problem?
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:57 PM   #4
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Hi Bob,

Just asking, describe where on your unit, a 2007, you found a "thermocouple" that is now bypassed. Or maybe you have the words miss understood or a typo. I'm not trying to be picky, just reacting to the words that Atwood would of used on your unit.

Your vintage unit does not have a traditional thermocouple like an older gas unit. Yours uses a millvolt feed back on the electrode to keep the gas burning which is similar to a thermocouple but you cannot bypass that as it is part of the igniter. When the tip of the igniter gets hot it creates a millvolt signal the control board picks up to tell that flame is present.

Now there is a Thermal Cutoff Device. And that is what is shown in Gene's perfect picture. The little clear tube looking thing that also connects to the T stat. Is that what you meant?

That thermal cut off is in both the electric and the gas side of your vintage heater. And yes the connections on the end have been known to not make. This is a place where dielectric grease really helps on those connections.

If Thermal Cutoff device is what you bypassed, then long term it should be replaced. It is a saftey to shutdown the heater if high heat (190F or above) is in the compartment. Which can be a burning spider nest, something blocking the heat exchange shield etc.

As FYI,
  • The T start opens at 140F on tank temperature as the hot water setpoint.
  • The ECO opens at 180 F tank temperature to prevent boiling
  • The Thermal Cutoff melts open at 190 air temp. from high heat and mitigate the possibility of a fire in the compartment.
If the Thermal cut off is melted or has some internal connection issue, just order a new one and put it in.

A good normal way to know that the safety circuit is made, is flip the unit on gas and listen. If no clunk of the gas valve followed by click click clik then it often times means the safeties are not making contact usually or sometime else holding out the unit. That is when you start fiddling with the connections and I would start with the Thermal cut off device for a corroded or loose connection. I had one drive me nuts once. Dielectric grease solved it. When you are on electric you hear nothing and have no idea the unit is not doing anything other then no hot water 30 minutes later. I used the gas mode to test if the safeties were met , then flipped it to electric. Once I greased it up I no longer had to do this and it worked right ever since.

Hope this helps


John
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Old 06-15-2012, 08:31 AM   #5
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Hi John, I knew you would jump on this thread... Yes the picture Gene took shows the exact component, and I am reasonably sure the Atwood man called it a thermocouple. I started the conversation with the model number so he should have known the correct part names, but I asked him if he was refering to the thing covered in clear tubing and he said YES, that's what I'm talking about...

So everything runs fine now although I haven't tried electric since we have hot water were content for now. I will check the electric back home. So you believe this circuit should be restored to original, and some dielectric grease used in the contact points? I agree with that. I am not sure I'm confident in that original part however, should it be a simple continuity test to determine it's worth or just toss it and get a new replacement?

Thank again for taking the time to respond John and Gene...I knew a Sunline friend was not going to leave me in the dark...
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Old 06-15-2012, 02:08 PM   #6
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I think it is called a "Thermal Cutoff". I remember a discussion from a few years ago, maybe on RV.NET, where people were having problems with it and it would go open and kill the heater on LP and AC. I am not sure if it is a fuse or resistor but bypassing it for a while lets you get hot water. Since my "memory bank" is not as good as Jon's I forgot the details and where to get a replacement. It would be a good idea to replace it for safety.
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Old 06-15-2012, 02:30 PM   #7
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I think I found the part and a story. At Water Heater Flashback / Thermal cut-off it says Atwood water heaters have a thermal cut-off device (a fusible link) in the circuitry that is designed to fail under intense heat.. So it is a fusable link, intended to open under high heat.

The part is Atwood Thermal Cut-Off 93866. One website that has it is Atwood 93866 Thermal Cut Off 190 Degree Water Heater Parts Trailer Camper RV . No doubt a Google search for Atwood Thermal Cut-Off 93866 will locate more,
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Old 06-15-2012, 08:48 PM   #8
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Thanks Gene, that was an informative story. I will buy myself a replacement once I'm back home this weekend. I appreciate your effrorts to get me aligned with safety.
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Old 06-15-2012, 11:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodoleBob View Post

So everything runs fine now although I haven't tried electric since we have hot water were content for now. I will check the electric back home. So you believe this circuit should be restored to original, and some dielectric grease used in the contact points? I agree with that. I am not sure I'm confident in that original part however, should it be a simple continuity test to determine it's worth or just toss it and get a new replacement?

Thank again for taking the time to respond John and Gene...I knew a Sunline friend was not going to leave me in the dark...
Bob, the saftey circuit that holds out the gas also holds out the electric on your vintage heater. Odds are good the electric works OK.

Yes, dielectric grease the connections and get the thermal cut off device back in, in the near future.

And yes, a continuity test will tell if it is good or not. My 1st instinct is there is corrosion on the connections. It does not take much.

Looks like Gene rounded you up place to get some and a part number.

And yes, we leave no fellow Sunliner to a cold shower Glad we could help.

Have a good trip home. We head out within hours... Right now about 6 to be exact.

John
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